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Why foreign banks don’t poach many people from the domestics

Two years ago financial recruiters were busy poaching people from Chinese banks into Western banks. But now the situation seems to be quite different: more and more professionals are staying put at the domestic firms.

“The threshold for landing jobs in banks is considered to be higher for the Chinese Big Four banks than for foreign banks,” says one headhunter, who asked not to be named.

One department supervisor of a commercial bank in Shanghai – who also preferred to remain anonymous – says he declined an offer of 3m yuan in base pay from a foreign bank. “Though the salary might be higher, the working pressure is a lot more,” he explains.

Similar stories abound, especially now the Big Four banks have gone public, which has enhanced the confidence and loyalty of their employees. And foreign banks still have a limited market share in mainland China.

There are other reasons why it is hard for foreign banks to poach from local competitors. “Language skills and culture fit are the big issues,” says Eddie Xi, senior consultant, IT division, Robert Walters Shanghai.

Foreign banks emphasise individual performance and allow ambitious employees to fast track their careers, he adds. “Local banks might be more stable, but foreign banks provide competitive packages.”

“If you have lots of Guanxi, then it’s good to work for Chinese banks,” says the banker quoted above.

Will the recruitment gulf between foreign and local banks continue to grow? Let us know your thoughts below.

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