Staff movement is creating vacancy activity throughout the Asian finance and banking sector as people decide to change employers – giving us evidence that candidates are gaining confidence in the recovery of the banking industry as they explore their options and look for opportunities to develop their careers. Christine Wright, Operations Director for Hays in Asia, discusses the trends and current opportunities across the region from the latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list.
Financial Controllers, Corporate Banking Relationship Managers and Internal Auditors are among the skills in high demand across Asia according to our latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of jobs in demand. New job creation and candidate movement is fuelling job market activity throughout the region.
We are seeing a lot of vacancy activity as a result of the need to replace departing staff and employers will act fast if an employee leaves a business critical role. In particular, we are seeing steady growth and new jobs resulting from the upward trend of foreign direct investment into China.
Looking at China’s accounting and finance sector there are steady demands for Product Auditors as stricter regulations regarding internal audit and control of foreign banks means that most banks will hire Product Auditors to enhance their business performance and minimize risk.
Finance Managers are in demand as this is a critical role. Given that Finance Managers handle all aspects of financial management, departing staff are immediately replaced and these skills are sought for expansions, meaning demand is consistently high.
Meanwhile as tax policy is changing most multinational companies are looking for Tax Accountants/Managers.
Moving to the banking sector Chinese employers seek Corporate Banking Relationship Managers as most foreign banks derive their revenue from providing corporate banking services. Chinese companies are seeking Equity Analysts and candidates with the required experience and skill set are consistently in high demand in the Chinese market.
The investment banking industry is recovering and needs more of these professionals as more M&A deals are done. We are also seeing many employers seeking Finance Managers and professionals who are able to provide services for online transactions.
Looking at Hong Kong we can see that Internal Audit professionals are sought by financial services employers in response to the continued need for more controls and tighter measures. Organisations are shifting their focus to managing corporate governance risk; ensuring internal controls are in place to deal with any irregularities prior to statutory audits.
As a result, Regulatory Reporting specialists are needed to assist in formulating policies and growth initiatives. Regulatory reporting teams have expanded as banks add more lines of defence, which is fuelling this staffing need both on a permanent and fixed term basis.
We have seen a slight increase in the number of newly created jobs in the banking sector. There is still a steady flow of candidates in most areas due to previous redundancies and reorganisation plans.
Relationship Management professionals in the commercial and corporate banking sector are in high demand as they generate revenue. While banks are trying to grow, they are also being very selective in their hiring as they raise their standards of recruitment.
Special emphasis is placed on the immediate client connections a candidate can bring. Relationship Managers with four to ten years of experience are in most demand.
Credit Analysts with local experience are favoured over foreign candidates to complement relationship management hiring. Employers are looking for candidates with between five and 15 years of experience.
In Singapore we are seeing steady demand for Tax Professionals in indirect tax. In most demand are candidates with a mix of both commercial and private practice experience, while regional experience and transfer pricing experience are also viewed favourably by employers.
Candidates with costing skills are in demand as they are a rarity in the current market, while employers are increasingly looking for candidates with consolidation skills and experience. Internal Auditors with both commercial and audit firm experience are sought, as are Valuations professionals.
Continual changes in the regulatory landscape have seen vacancy activity increase for risk and compliance professionals as banks bolster these teams. Business Process Management professionals are sought as cost control is an important priority and many banks are looking for Lean Six Sigma candidates who can streamline processes.
Employees skilled in Banking Operations are an integral element of any bank. Yet turnover for operations professionals is high and therefore there is a constant need for banks to rehire these roles.
The growth in Assets Under Management (AUM) in Singapore has seen many Private Wealth businesses scramble to attract Relationship Managers with large networks. Meanwhile in the corporate banking sector Trade Finance Sales, Transaction Banking Sales and Large Local Corporate Relationship Managers are sought.
Companies in Japan are facing a shortage of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) candidates as the job market has picked up in the finance and banking sector. Bilingual candidates with analytical skills are particularly sought after. FP&A Managers with management experience are also in demand.
Experienced General Ledger Accountants, Financial Controllers and Finance Directors with very specific industry experience and Accounting Managers with management experience and leadership skills are also sought. When we look at the banking sector in Japan we are seeing a constant flow of new roles and candidates with in-demand skills often receive multiple offers, and more counter-offers than in previous years.
Given the shortage of skills in the fixed income operations area, demand is high for talented middle office candidates who specialise in Rates Derivatives Trade Support. Employers are showing more flexibility on the type of people they will consider.
Banking Operations candidates are sought in response to the increased number of foreign participants (institutions) using the Zeng in system, as well as recent regulatory changes. We are also seeing a need for Anti-Money Laundering/Financial Crime Prevention Compliance Officers, compliance and audit skills and FX Sales specialists.
In Malaysia we are seeing a steady demand for commercially minded local talent across many areas within the accounting and finance sector. The demand is particularly high for Financial Controllers, Senior Managers and Commercial Finance Managers (business planning) as local companies grow quickly and international companies enter the Malaysian market.
In most demand are CFOs originating from Malaysia with genuine global/regional exposure gained in a true international business.
Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with experience gained in true MNCs. Employers prefer such candidates over those with solely Malaysian business experience as they believe they possess far better communication skills, are more commercially minded and can create a stronger success-based environment.
For more information see the Hays Quarterly Hotspots list for China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia.
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 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.