Demand is rising for banking and finance professionals across most of Asia and here Emma Charnock, Regional Director of Hays, discusses trends and current opportunities across the region from the latest Hays Quarterly Report.
Candidate attraction and innovative ways to differentiate a business from competitors are two major initiatives that we have seen recently from employers. As noted in the latest Hays Quarterly Report, for the July – September quarter, given the high level of competition for a very finite pool of suitably qualified and experienced candidates, such initiatives are key to securing the best banking and finance talent.
This quarter, we expect to see new jobs opening at the senior level in China, with a number of replacement roles becoming available as well.
Given that a number of major international players are looking to further expand their market presence in China, we have seen an increased demand for experienced candidates in asset management. Candidates with FI and LLC relationship management experience are also sought.
We are also seeing more candidates from corporate banking looking to step into the investment banking space. This is starting to create a shortage in the commercial banking market.
Turning to Hong Kong, a number of Chinese firms are continuing to publically list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which has created significant demand for advisory candidates to advise on both IPO listings and M&A deals.
IPO share bankers continue to be in high demand. Both international and regional investment banks are currently hiring experienced transaction origination and execution bankers ranging from Analysts to Directors.
In addition, a number of new franchises are expanding their equity research platforms in Hong Kong and recruiting Research Associates and Analysts from Senior Analysts to Directors.
On the financial markets side, experience candidates with China institutional sales, FX sales, bond origination and sales and equity sales trading are being sought in the Hong Kong market.
In Japan, headcount remains tight at most firms although replacement hiring and selective upgrade hiring is expected to continue.
In middle office/operations the focus remains on improving efficiency and reducing costs, particularly in businesses where the higher volume and lower margins trend continues. As a result, many firms continue to run business process improvement projects and Project Managers, Business Analysts and people from the line with experience on projects as subject matter experts are in demand.
While the number of Front Office roles is likely to follow the usual cycle and slow down towards the end of the year, there will still be roles available, particularly replacements. Demand is likely to remain solid where there is a limited supply of experienced candidates – particularly in Compliance, Product Control, Market Risk and Operational Risk Management.
In asset management, as foreign investments continue to outperform Japanese investments, experienced Product Managers are in demand. Those with strong product knowledge and an established track record in managing client relationships and marketing foreign investment opportunities to Japanese clients are most in demand.
Turning to Singapore, the increasing deal flow by corporate finance teams has seen demand rise for suitably experienced corporate finance/M&A professionals, particularly at the Associate and VP levels to support this growth.
Wealth management and private banking continues to be an area in great demand, with many of the world’s major players trying to expand their market share and announcing development plans in this sector.
With increasing focus and current enhancement combined with tightened capital regulations, senior banking professionals with strong regulatory and risk management experience are needed, in particular credit risk, portfolio risk, compliance and economic capital.
Structured trade finance, export finance and project finance are areas where niche players that specialise in this space are experiencing growth, and we are seeing increasing demand for people possessing strong networks and proven origination and execution experience.
Finance technology is an active area of recruitment across Hong Kong, Japan, and in particular Singapore. In Hong Kong candidates with experience in wealth management and equity derivatives continue to be in high demand. There is also availability of roles for those with experience in prime and cash. Skill sets that apply to all functional role profiles and most technologies are also in short supply.
Meanwhile in Japan, most activity in banking IT this quarter will be replacement positions. However, there are a few banks building out strategic platforms which require high end developers. As a result, Front-End specialists, Data Managers, Internal IT Administrators and IT Applicant Support candidates are all in demand.
Specific technical development skills are sought across front to back office in-house development in Singapore. Business facing .Net developers with Windows Presentation Foundation experience and also J2EE developers with good Middleware knowledge are in demand as banks focus on expanding their web and portal driven systems. FX business knowledge is also sought with several banks expanding and re-engineering their web based offerings in this space.
Project management skill sets are still being sought but there has been a conscious shift in hiring to focus on AVP level Project Managers with a good core skill set within the discipline rather than the hiring of more senior Project Managers.
Application Support Team Leaders are in demand while infrastructure roles remain steady with data centres, datawarehouse upgrades and the demand for traditional DBA and Platform Administrators.
We are noticing increasing interest from foreign banking professionals looking to Asia for their next career move. We also continue to see a push in the number of candidates who want to work in organisations where they will gain exposure to global systems and delivery.
There remains a preference from employers for candidates with directly relevant experience in a similar role, ideally with a competitor, as they are more likely to be able to hit the ground running and start performing with minimal training and supervision.
However, where there is pressure to fill roles quickly, particularly in key replacement roles, applicants who may not have the exact experience but are close, will stand a better chance if they apply early. The longer candidates take to apply, the less likely they are to get an interview.
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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Emma Charnock is the Regional Director in Hong Kong and China for Hays.