BLOGS & OPINION | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Marc Burrage

Are your banking skills in demand?


Demand remains steady for candidates across Asia’s banking and finance sector despite the current global economic conditions. Here Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong, discusses trends and current opportunities across Asia from the latest Hays Quarterly Report.

Asia’s banking and finance sector remains stable in the current economic climate. As a result, employers are still selectively hiring for experienced candidates with solid skill sets and they are willing to consider candidates with transferrable skills in order to snap up the right talent. This is one finding from our Hays Quarterly Report for the April to June quarter, which is now available.

Another key finding is the level of competition between employers for suitably qualified talent, particularly bilingual candidates. Multiple offers are still being seen in the market as employers try to secure the best banking and finance talent.

In China, the commerce and industry sector remains active with an increasing number of companies opening stores and establishing finance shared service centres to streamline new business operations. This activity is creating a number of across financial planning and analysis, financial modelling, feasibility studies, strategic planning and shared service centres.

Employers are looking at new strategies to source suitable candidates with the relevant skills and experience. To fill existing gaps, they are also willing to consider candidates with transferable skills from related industries. For instance, retail employers can consider candidates who come from the consumer goods industry and are willing to join retail.

China’s banking market continues to be short of strong sales professionals who are considered to be the frontline driving force in helping to generate revenue. In addition, a number of foreign banks have joined in the competition for the client portfolios of financial institutions (both bank and non-banks) as well as small to medium size corporates, following the tight-money policy in mainland China and the shrinking market share of state owned enterprises (SOE).

This competition is creating demand for strong Credit Analysts, in addition to commodity trades sales, wealth management candidates and Relationship Managers.

Turning to Hong Kong, regulatory candidates with expertise in full set HKMA banking returns at both the preparer level (three to five years experience) and reviewer level and above (five years or more) are sought. Candidates with Basel III knowledge are also needed. This demand is being driven by tightened banking regulations and an increase in regulatory returns. Across banking, candidates in investment research, private equity and corporate banking are needed. Fund sales remains an area of demand as well.

In Japan, bilingual accountancy and finance candidates remain in short supply. The majority of demand this quarter is for skilled Accounting Managers, FP&A Managers and FP&A specialists driven by both replacement and new roles as organisations focus on the analysis of future planning requirements.

Many Japanese and some foreign investment banks are also ramping up their hiring for good bilingual Investment Bankers for cross-border M&A activity. They are keen to take advantage of increased interest in overseas acquisitions by Japanese firms. A strong yen and the opportunity to leverage growth opportunities in markets outside of Japan are encouraging these ambitions.

In Singapore, activity across the agriculture, FMCG, property, manufacturing, shipping and oil and gas markets continues to boost demand for candidates. Cost accounting positions remain the most prevalent but suitable roles are available for strong candidates across all areas if they have the right sector specific experience. We are also seeing an upturn in the contract and temporary recruitment market.

Recruitment in private banking is particularly buoyant as Singapore grows as a private banking centre. We are seeing a number of internal audit and controls-related roles on the market, in addition to regulatory reporting, Basel and treasury and liquidity roles.

The country’s banking and asset management sector is beginning to see a recovery. In asset management, vacancies exist in the fixed income asset sector. Candidates with experience in Asian corporate credits and sovereign credits are highly sought after. As most of the asset houses are growing their presence in Singapore, RFP writers and investment writers are becoming the next hotspot. Alternative asset classes such as real estate and private equity are still looking to recruit.

In the majority of cases, there remains little interest in relocating offshore candidates due to the extra cost as well as the current talent already available in the local market.

Finance technology
With most bonuses announced, finance technology candidate flow is increasing. We saw evidence of this in March and will continue to see more positions become available this quarter as the new fiscal year commences at some finance houses.

In China, the demand for Java Developers within investment banking teams remains strong as new development centres are based in the region. Candidates skilled in this software remain in
short supply. This is due to the majority of developers in China working on the J2EE web development side rather than the core Java side.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, we are seeing continued recruitment in the equity derivatives space with a focus on risk and pricing positions as well as market making.

The corporate banking sector continues to sustain the Singapore market as banks gear up to increase their service offerings to clients. We have also noted an increase in roles across internet and mobile banking. Other areas also showing demand include IT Security and Risk (Credit & Market) as well as Basel III requirements.

In Japan bilingual candidates with fluent Japanese language skills are in high demand. We will also see various infrastructure and development roles this quarter, such as Network Engineers, Design Architects and Front Office Developers.

Candidate trends
Most candidates are open to looking at other opportunities but remain cautious and careful in their decision-making while entry-level candidates are more active in seeking job switches. They are also becoming more open to contract roles, particularly those who are immediately available.

High quality candidates continue to remain sought after in the current market and multiple offers are common.

Marc Burrage, Regional Director, Hays - Hong Kong

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Marc Burrage

Marc Burrage

Marc Burrage is the Regional Director at Hays - Hong Kong.

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