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China calls out for more finance tech professionals

Talent shortages in China go beyond just front office roles, finance technology jobs are also in demand.

Andrew Barber, associate director of Hays Finance Technology in Asia, says: “These skills were not common in China up until fairly recently as there has not been a need, but it’s now a serious issue for several leading tier-one investment banks.”

Exceedingly popular in IT

Most firms on the mainland are now building their IT banking teams from the ground up. Hence candidates who have a “demonstrable record of building teams” in more mature finance tech centres like New York and London are highly prized, says Barber.

Roles in demand include software engineering/development professionals and mid to senior managers. Apart from domain experience, these managers need to be technically hands-on to perform design-and-code reviews, while being senior enough to make architectural decisions, says Barber.

Other than overseas returnees, local, mid-level technologists are also sought after.

The Mandarin question

Do overseas candidates with no Mandarin skills and no China market knowledge stand a chance in getting hired on the mainland?

Barber says they tend to be hired only at the more junior level. “About half of our clients have mandatory Chinese language skill requirements and the others do not. Firms who don’t require the language skills are typically facing off to a global user base and building global technology solutions, in such firms, English language skills are more important.”

What’s next?

A huge issue that will impact finance tech, much like its front office brethren, is the stiff competition for talent and staff retention. For instance, Barber knows of two firms who are looking to launch in China and who reckon they can easily lure trained staff away from rivals.

“Staff retention at senior AVP levels and below and overseas sourcing of VP levels and above will be the two biggest factors facing China’s finance technology sector in the next few years.”

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