BLOGS & OPINION | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Christine Wright

Does Asia's finance and banking market seek your skills?


Following the slowdown in recruitment activity before the Chinese New Year, an increasing number of jobs are becoming available in the accountancy, finance, and banking sectors in Asia. Here are the latest skills in demand across the region from the Hays Quarterly Report.

Hiring activity in Asia’s banking and finance sectors is buoyant and has returned to similar levels seen before the Chinese New Year, when employers rushed to fill vacancies before the holiday. In addition to the jump in new vacancies, the payment of bonuses has prompted more candidates to look for their next role.

With hiring activity up, we’ve seen an increase in the number of employers looking to attract highly-skilled Asians home from overseas.

While many companies prefer to recruit local candidates, we’ve noticed a larger number of employers looking overseas when they cannot fill jobs locally. These employers are mostly targeting Asian expatriates in the Asia Pacific region, but some are also interested in those located in Europe.

So what skills are employers seeking?

We start by focusing on hotspots in China’s accounting & finance sector where employers are looking for Finance Directors with IPO experience as many local companies are seeking to go public. In 2014 the regulatory environment tightened, so demand will remain strong this quarter for Internal Auditors and Compliance Managers, especially in the life sciences industry.

We’re also seeing demand for Financial Planning and Analysis professionals and specialists in Commercial Finance.

Moving to the banking sector, we’re continuing to see high demand for Corporate Banking Relationship Managers. Meanwhile, Fund Raisers are in demand as China is encouraging outbound investment and there is an increasing number of institutions looking to raise funds in US dollars in China.

Cross-border M&A specialists are also sought, as are Risk, Legal and Compliance specialists and Project Managers.

In Hong Kong’s financial services sector, the demand for Internal Auditors continues to grow. However, due to the short supply of strong candidates, employers are extending their search globally. We have seen numerous top-tier banks reach out to expatriates living in the UK in order to attempt to entice them back to Hong Kong.

In other trends, we are also seeing demand for Trilingual Finance Managers in private equity asset management companies. Since the majority of Hong Kong-headquartered companies invest in China, candidates are required to have Cantonese, English, and Mandarin language skills.

Private equity fund management companies are also seeking Fund Accountants.

In Hong Kong’s banking market, healthy demand exists for Relationship Managers in corporate banking, private banking, and retail banking. AML/KYC Compliance Managers, Investment Bank Credit Risk Analysts, Trade Support (Analyst, AVP and VP) and Settlement Managers, and Front Office Investment Banking Analysts are also needed.

Turning to Singapore’s accountancy & finance jobs market, we’re seeing demand for Corporate Finance specialists who can manage finances from a more strategic level. There has been an increase in the hiring of candidates with US Reporting experience using USGAAP or SEC standards as many organisations in Singapore have head offices in the US.

Within professional practice demand exists for Management Consulting professionals with experience advising financial services clients. Internal Auditors and professionals with expertise in compliance, individual tax/global mobility, and indirect tax also sought.

In Singapore’s banking sector, we’re seeing a high demand for Commodity Physical Operators as commodity firms continue to build up their trading capability in Singapore. Client onboarding specialists, Compliance specialists, and Private Banking Relationship Managers are also being sought.

In Malaysia jobs growth in the accountancy & finance sectors is solid and businesses are looking for local Malaysian candidates, while those who have lived, worked, or studied overseas are also in high demand.

Tax professionals with GST experience are highly sought due to the current GST implementation in Malaysia. Financial Planning Analysts are also needed as employers realise the value of effective planning and financial management.

Meanwhile, due to increased regulatory requirements from Malaysia’s Central Bank, banks are seeking Compliance Officers to tighten controls and minimise potential compliance issues. Relationship Managers, Credit professionals, and Finance Reporting professionals are also needed.

Fund Accountants and Investment Accountants are also sought as most banks and insurance companies are migrating more funds into the country.

Our last area of focus is Japan, where the accountancy & finance recruitment market is still very active. The demand for Financial Planning & Analysis professionals is on the rise at both the senior and junior level due to more companies understanding the value of a strong FP&A team.

Finance Managers are also sought by smaller companies as they continue to evaluate their senior leadership and are looking for more capable individuals to lead finance teams as the economy improves.

In the Japanese banking sector, demand for Mergers & Acquisitions specialists is growing at both securities and boutique firms covering small- to medium-cap transactions.

Equity Researchers are consistently in demand at both the entry and mid-levels as firms look to grow their teams and develop Analysts with strong writing skills to cover Japanese equities. Specialists in fixed income/foreign bonds and front office compliance are also in strong demand.

An increase in the demand for entry-level candidates at most financial institutions including investment banks, asset management firms, private equity funds, and boutique M&A and hedge funds has created more job opportunities for graduates in the sector.

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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Christine Wright

Christine Wright

Christine Wright is the Managing Director of Hays in Asia. She has 20 years’ experience in executive recruitment and is currently responsible for the day-to-day management and growth of the businesses in Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and India.

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