While there is a sense of uncertainty for some banks, others have made no changes to their hiring plans and good talent remains in high demand. Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Japan, discusses trends and current opportunities across Asia from the latest Hays Quarterly Report.
Despite the global economic caution which has seen some banks, particularly European banks, introduce more stringent headcount approvals and recruit only for essential hires, other banks, often Australian and Asian banks, are still hiring in many areas and we expect this to be the pattern for the remainder of the year.
Our latest Hays Quarterly Report, for the October to December quarter, found that in Singapore’s Banking Product Control market for example, hiring remains strong. But while some top-tiers continue to hire strongly in this space, there are others who are continuing to offshore to India. Regulatory reporting candidates continue to be in high demand as a result of more rigorous requirements imposed by regulatory bodies, along with the offshoring of jobs from London to Singapore.
Niche Internal Auditors with in-house banking experience are also highly sought after in Singapore and there is a shortage of high-calibre candidates in this area. Because of this, applicants from European markets are actively encouraged to apply for roles in Singapore banks.
Accountancy and finance skills are also sought after in Singapore. The real estate industry is seeing growth as companies expand, in particular government linked companies as they have strong balance sheets. Senior finance professionals are wanted to head up overseas operations, as well as candidates with niche skills such as debt/capital markets expertise to raise funds for investment opportunities that could arise from market uncertainties. The pharmaceutical and FMCG sectors continue to flourish due to investment in Asian operations and these sectors are often attractive to candidates. Cost accountant positions are widely available across both commerce and banking.
Turning to Japan, we expect to see more positions open this quarter with a busy October and November for recruiting activity as companies rush to fill vacancies before year-end.
Front Office recruitment is following the usual yearly cycle with a slowdown in new roles as we reach the end of the calendar year. However, there are still roles available for replacements and strategic hires. Particularly active areas include Compliance, Market Risk, Product Control and Project Managers in Middle Office Operations where there is a limited supply of experienced candidates to fill roles available.
In Asset Management, experienced Salespeople, Product Managers and Investment Managers/Fund Managers are still in demand. Those with strong product knowledge and an established track record in managing client relationships and marketing foreign investment opportunities to Japanese companies are most in demand.
Roles in Corporate Banking will be available as firms seek to take advantage of the more stable revenue streams which it offers.
Over in Hong Kong, Financial Reporting, Internal Audit, Operational Risk Management and Finance candidates are wanted to fill available roles, particularly within insurance companies.
With changes in IFRS standards and tighter internal and external regulation, financial services firms are also seeing greater value in Management Reporting candidates.
Turning to China, there is growing demand for candidates with strong technical skills in financial planning and analysis as well as commercial and business analysis in China due to the rapidly changing business environment.
Internal Audit and Risk and Internal Control Financial Analysis candidates are needed as organisations focus on reducing both their operational and financial risk.
We expect to see new jobs created this quarter as a number of companies relocate their APAC headquarters to China.
Finance Technology continues to be an active area of recruitment across Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
In Japan, bilingual Project Managers and Business Analysts are in high demand. As investment banks move away from their traditional models, they are offshoring a lot of development, which is generating the need for a local person to sit between the business and the developers offshore.
There has been recent movement at the executive level across the industry. Roles vary from CAO to Head of certain business areas. Several firms are replacing senior level IT managers who have left their positions.
Meanwhile in Singapore, Front Office Technical Support roles continue to be in demand within the commodities and emerging markets space. Vendor led Technology specialists continue to be sought with Murex, Wall Street and Core Banking Software experience the most desired skill sets within Singapore.
Over in Hong Kong, we are seeing the biggest demand right now for contract Business Analysts and Project Managers. Candidates with experience in Application Support, Networking and Infrastructure are also sought. There is also strong demand for Change Managers, Process Business Analysts and Technical Business Analysts.
Solutions Managers, Client Data and Change Management roles are all still a priority at the Director and Executive Director level.
The candidate shortage means that good candidates at the staff and middle management level have multiple choices. We are seeing a number of good candidates receiving multiple offers from several companies. Because of the candidate shortage, employers need to process candidates quickly in order to secure top bilingual talent.
We are noticing increasing interest from foreign banking professionals looking to Asia for their next career move.
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.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
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.