BLOGS & OPINION | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Christine Wright

What's driving job creation in finance in Asia?


Hiring in Asia's banking and finance sectors remains active.

Despite slower economic growth in China, the country is slowly transitioning to a more consumer-driven economy. China is integrating the Internet, big data, and other technologies with established industries such as retail in a strategy known as 'Internet Plus'.

The initiative is set to boost China's already vast e-commerce market, stimulate consumer spending, and create new jobs. China has now become the world's largest e-commerce market and this spectacular growth is generating new jobs in accountancy & finance and banking & financial services.

China is also expected to become the biggest market in the world for consumer technology in 2016, thanks to strong local buying power and the rapid development of innovation at Chinese manufacturing companies.

As the Chinese economy undergoes the transformation away from its reliance on government-led investments and exports towards a more domestic consumption-driven model, many new jobs are being created in China as well as across the Asia Pacific region.

So what skills are employers seeking?

Our Hays Quarterly Report of jobs in demand has just been released and here we share the key findings. We start by focusing on hotspots in China's accountancy and finance sector where Commercial Finance professionals with strong business acumen who are able to work closely with sales & marketing departments are highly sought.

Also, many local high-tech companies are looking to go public creating strong demand for CFOs with previous pre-IPO and capital operations experience. We're also seeing demand for Reporting Managers.

Moving on to the banking sector, we continue to see high demand for Corporate Banking Relationship Managers as the industry expands into tier two cities such as Chongqing, Xiamen, and Kunming.

Meanwhile, Investment Associates are in consistently strong demand as private equity firms are looking for candidates who are CFA certified and have strong investment banking and private equity experience. Senior Risk and Compliance Managers continue to be in demand.

In Hong Kong’s financial services sector, Internal Auditors are sought. Given the shortage of suitable Internal Auditors, employers have been reaching out to existing employees in other job functions and offering them internal audit training.

Also, the demand for risk and compliance candidates has skyrocketed due to the increasing regulations for Hong Kong banks. In addition, employers are looking for Product Controllers who have at least three to four years of product controlling and P&L experience, as well as fixed income or treasury knowledge.

In Hong Kong's banking market, healthy demand exists for contract professionals. As a result, many financial institutions are now offering higher salaries and benefits in order to attract candidates away from their existing temporary assignment or to compete against potential permanent offers.

There continues to be high demand for Senior Corporate Bankers who can attract new corporate banking clients. Employers also want Senior Relationship Managers who can manage China corporates or Hong Kong mid-cap corporates.

Turning to Singapore's accountancy & finance jobs market, we're seeing demand for Big 4 trained CPA qualified Accountants at MNCs. Also a high staff turnover rate at Finance Manager level is creating many new mid-level vacancies.

Within professional practice there continues to be demand for Management Consulting professionals with experience in advising financial services clients or larger strategy houses.

In Singapore's banking sector, we're seeing a high demand for Credit Analysts within commodities due to a few high profile fraud cases within the sector in the last year. Commodity firms are now strengthening their risk teams and banks are also bolstering their financial crime teams as sanctions have become a feature of the globalised banking industry.

In Malaysia skilled finance professionals remain in high demand in the financial shared services industry. In an interesting trend, candidates with commercial and audit skills as opposed to pure shared services experience are sought.

This is because shared services centres are moving up the value chain and becoming less transactional. As a result we're seeing more demand for Team Leaders and Managers in the areas of accounts receivable, accounts payable, and financial reporting in shared services centres.

Meanwhile, there is an increased demand for Business Controllers within the plant environment as investors recognise the potential to expand operations in Malaysia. This is supported by the country’s economic stability, financial opportunities, and a strong pool of qualified finance professionals.

Our final country in the spotlight is Japan, where the accountancy & finance jobs market continues to be active and there is a strong focus on replacement hiring. Candidate shortages exist in several skill areas such as financial planning, audit, or SAP.

There continues to be demand for Financial Planning & Analysis professionals at both the senior and junior level due to more companies understanding the value of a strong FP&A team. We are seeing a number of new roles being created by real estate firms and renewable energy companies for SPC Accountants.

In the Japanese banking sector, demand for Compliance and Internal Control remains high and the shortage of candidates is likely to continue over the quarter. We are also seeing new areas of recruitment demand for Operations, Legal, including for Paralegals, and Front Office professionals.

In Corporate Banking we have seen a surprising increase in the number of junior corporate Credit Analyst roles created over the last few months. Much of this new headcount is focused on both inbound and outbound finance with banks keen to hire and then groom new talent.

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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