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Preview of 2010: here are some more hiring highlights

Financial controllers

With the IPO market heating up in China, there is increasing demand for CFOs and financial controllers with relevant listing exposure, particularly those with Big Four training, says Mathew Gollop, managing director, Connected Group. “Within the investment banks, this creates demand in the corporate finance functions, and analysts with due diligence exposure will be a cherished commodity in 2010.”

Life insurance

The life insurance market in China will continue to grow in 2010 and this will trigger bigger hiring needs. Domestic insurance companies will dominate the expansion, says Cherol Cheuk, director of banking at Hudson.

“Foreign/joint-venture insurance companies will still be restricted in this highly regulated sector. As local insurance companies continue to improve products and services, we are expecting to see quality people joining big local firms from foreign firms,” adds Cheuk.

Hong Kong candidates

Foreign investment banks will continue to hire Hong Kong candidates and relocate them to China, says Sarah Poon, consulting manager, Kelly Selection. Research analysts in Hong Kong, for example, usually focus on both the HK and mainland markets, “so it’s possible for them to move to China to perform the same role there,” she adds.

Foreign banks like to hire Hong Kong nationals thanks to their language skills and exposure to a mature financial sector, says Nicole Yan, accounting & finance practice, Manpower China. Although salaries are often lower (and tax rates are higher) than in Hong Kong, mainland opportunities are still attractive due to the plentiful future career opportunities on offer.

“Hong Kong candidates with investment experience in the energy, mining, bio-tech, and pharmaceutical industries are in demand in China. With more companies in this sector going through M&As or IPOs, professionals from Hong Kong, with local market experience, are currently the best choice,” says Yan.

The Chinese employment market is also attracting experienced retail bankers from Hong Kong, especially those with sales, service and team-management experience, according to Gregory Rastello, an executive consultant at Talent2 Beijing. “And the recent launch of insurance products in foreign banks in a relatively premature market represents an opportunity for Mandarin speakers to gain China experience.”

Private banking

The number of mainland (US dollar) millionaires already stands at about 450,000, according to Boston Consulting Group, and the number is rising rapidly. Global private banks, including HSBC, Citibank and BNP Paribas, are battling to secure wealthy clients, but they face strong competition from the dominant local banks.

Given the short history of wealth management in China and the increased interest in Chinese clients by offshore desks, there is a huge talent shortage, says Rastello.

“In 2010, the war to find local relationship managers with existing portfolios of customers will intensify, with talents from local banks moving to foreign ones and vice versa. With demand outweighing supply, there will still be an interest in professionals from other areas, such as corporate banking or private equity , if they have large networks of wealthy entrepreneurs,” he adds.

Risk and compliance

As the market attempts to improve its regulatory framework and firms look to limit their liabilities, demand for risk and compliance professionals will continue to rise, particularly in credit risk, says Gollop. “On the technology-trading front, there has been a rise in interest for algo and quant specialists, which is a profitable area, but also one that aims to limit market risk and impact.”

Health care i-bankers

“In 2010 investment in coverage of the health care sector should resume and specialist bankers should find better job prospects. There are good signs of IPO activity, and the health care M&A market, though small, should blossom in the coming years, providing a supportive job market for bio-medical engineers and medical doctors-turned-bankers,” says Rafael Brana, an associate at Bó Lè Associates.

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