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A short and slightly depressing summary of the job market in Asia

The job market is so grim, you may just want to do this

The job market is so grim, you may just want to do this

Employment news in Asia’s financial sector is showing no immediate signs of recovery. Earlier this month, for example, search firm Robert Walters registered a 5 per cent decline in Q2 profits for Asia Pacific.

Recent redundancies include Morgan Stanley, which slashed 33 jobs across several regions, including Asia, last week. Renaissance Capital shut down its Hong Kong and Beijing offices last month, while Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have also retrenched bankers, reports the Financial Times.

A senior Hong Kong-based headhunter, who declined to be identified, puts it glumly: “There are searches, mainly replacements, but there’s no expansion of the market.” She says Morgan Stanley has been trimming its sales and trading teams, particularly in equity derivatives, and is instead choosing to refocus on flow products. “The job losses have affected all levels of the food chain – from junior to senior bankers. They have been ongoing, but of course, banks won’t report this week after week.”

Even China isn’t unscathed

Employment sentiment has also noticeably dampened in China, which was a hiring hotspot as recently as last year. Jason Tan, director of financial services and banking, PSD Group, says global investment banks have been slowly letting go of front-office staff.

“These have affected local i-bankers on the ECM and DCM side of the business. Most are fairly junior at the associate and senior-associate level, with less than five years of experience.” Firms that have been hit include the joint ventures of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

The re-employment prospects for these jobless bankers aren’t looking great, admits Tan. “It is going to very hard. They could potentially look to local M&A advisory firms for jobs, but these typically don’t recruit in large volumes – just two or three people every six months or so.” With slowing growth, Tan anticipates most firms will stay lean while consolidating headcount.

Recruitment in Asia isn’t completely dead, however. Our anonymous headhunter says while Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea have been hit by the economic slowdown, other countries like India and Indonesia continue to hire.

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