BLOGS & OPINION | Contributed Content, Japan
Christine Wright

Here are the banking and finance skills in demand now in Asia


Job opportunities in the accountancy, finance, and banking sectors are growing as many international companies continue to invest in the Asia-Pacific region. Here are the skills in demand across the region.

As the Asia-Pacific region continues to attract foreign direct investment and China further integrates into the global economy, we are seeing new job opportunities emerge in a number of different areas of accountancy, finance, and banking. So what skills are employers looking for?

A common trend we are seeing is the need for skilled professionals who can identify time or cost inefficiencies and then offer ways to solve issues and improve business performance. People who can offer effective process or costs solutions will remain in high demand while businesses look to maintain profitability and control costs.

We start by exploring hotspots in China's accounting and finance sector where employers seek Commercial Directors with strong communication skills as they are required to work closely with operational leaders across business units. Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Heads are sought as finance teams are taking more responsibility for decision making in businesses.

We're also seeing demand for Senior Internal Control Managers, Compliance Directors, and Asia Audit Heads. In the banking sector the acute shortage of Corporate Banking Relationship Managers continues and has resulted in some companies offering to raise salaries, and in some cases even doubling a candidate's previous salary.

Meanwhile Investment Bankers are in demand due to strong growth in cross border M&A, both inbound and outbound. Compliance specialists are also sought, as are Banking Operations Managers and Transactional Banking Sales specialists.

In Hong Kong's financial services sector, the demand for Contract Accountants continues to grow and companies are becoming more open to candidates with varying degrees of industry experience. Due to the further expansion of banks into Hong Kong we are seeing high demand for Finance Managers, and growth in the insurance sector is generating a need for Financial Planning & Analysis professionals.

Within commerce and industry, there has been an increase in demand for Senior Accountants from pharmaceutical companies as they continue to invest in Hong Kong. Since there is a lack of Finance Managers in the industry, companies are looking for strong Senior Accountants to step up and take on added people management responsibilities.

In Hong Kong's banking market, healthy demand exists for Corporate Banking Relationship Managers, Commercial Banking Credit Approvers, Credit Analysts, Counterparty Credit Risk Managers, Transaction Banking specialists, and Private Banking Compliance professionals.

Turning to Singapore's accountancy & finance jobs market, we're seeing demand for entry-level Accountants with a strong background in systems. Candidates with costing skills are currently in short supply in the FMCG and manufacturing industries and there is a shortage of Tax Managers across the board in both direct and indirect tax.

Multilingual candidates continue to be sought after in Singapore due to it being a regional hub for many employers in the Asia-Pacific region. Within professional practice demand exists for Management Consultants, Internal Auditors, and Indirect Tax professionals.

In financial services, any role under the corporate governance umbrella is in high demand right now. Internal Auditors in areas such as IT, trade, transactions, and risk are sought, as are Product Controllers and Regulatory Reporting professionals.

In Singapore's banking sector, Operational Risk & Compliance specialists remain in high demand due to regulatory changes. Anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC), and client onboarding continue to be the main demand trends.

Other roles in demand include Banking and Trade Finance Operations specialists, Projects and Change Managers, and Risk Managers.

In Malaysia jobs growth in the accountancy and finance sectors continues to look promising as many international companies are investing in the country. The most potential exists in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, construction, property, and FMCG sectors.

Employers are looking to hire solid Financial Planning & Analysis professionals, Business Analysts, and Business Partners in order to improve business performance. In these roles candidates need to be able a play a true business partner role rather than be part of the back-office function. Experience in strategic business development and financial planning is highly regarded.

Businesses are also constantly looking into how shared service centres (SSCs) can improve processes and we anticipate that migration and scope expansion activities will create more jobs in SSCs, generating demand for Project and Change Managers who have experience working in finance.

Meanwhile, global banks and insurers are expanding their Malaysian operations, especially in the global markets side of their business, in an attempt to make Malaysia a 'Centre of Excellence' and one of the main hubs in the Asia region. This is creating demand for Corporate Credit Analysts, Risk Analysts, Regulatory and AML Compliance professionals, and Fund Accounting and Corporate Finance specialists.

Finally in Japan there has been a healthy balance of newly-created positions and replacement roles within accountancy & finance across various industries with a high demand for junior FP&A bilingual staff.

There has recently been a rise in the number of Finance Manager and Controller positions in smaller companies that are looking to bring on professionals who can handle the whole back office including FP&A, accounting, and also, on occasion, HR and legal responsibilities.

Other roles in demand include Senior Accountants, Accounting Managers, and Auditors.

In the Japanese banking sector both local and international investment banks are eagerly looking to build up their investment banking divisions/corporate finance workforce, mainly at the junior level. Demand also exists for Regulatory/Compliance specialists, Middle Office Operations staff, Junior Equity Analysts, Asset Management specialists, and Corporate Relationship Managers.

More firms in Japan are providing internal mobility to their staff so they can retain high performing employees within the organisation. Reflecting the strong demand for talent in this sector, banks are also becoming more competitive with their salary offers, usually providing a 15 to 25 percent increase on base salary.

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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