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Morning Coffee: Graduates to blame as Hong Kong financial services faces big talent shortages

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Redundancies at banks in Hong Kong may have grabbed recent headlines, but overall the city’s financial-services sector is suffering from deep-set skill shortages, according to a new government report.

The report from the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) says employers are struggling to find talent in: asset management, wealth management, private banking, retail banking, corporate banking, investment banking, financial consultancy, securities and insurance. In other words, pretty much everywhere. “Given the tight employment market in Hong Kong and the robust growth of the financial services industry, nearly all surveyed companies indicated that they had difficulty finding and keeping seasoned employees,” the FSDC says in a press release.

The report places much of the blame for this on Hong Kong’s recent crop of graduates who, it says, are unwilling to take jobs in fast-growing middle-office sectors like compliance. Front-office investment banking remains too alluring for Hong Kong grads even in the wake of the financial crisis Share on twitter. This reflects what recruiters have been telling us for the last 12 months – salaries in compliance are rising and people are shifting into the sector from other functions partly because the junior talent pool isn’t growing quickly enough.

There’s a more widespread problem stopping local graduates getting jobs and rising up the ranks in financial services – their poor language skills in Mandarin and English compared with their mainland and Western counterparts respectively. “Many local graduates have found themselves facing formidable challenge from mainland graduates and international professionals who are better equipped with the necessary skills required by financial firms. Local graduates need to improve their language skills and knowledge to compete or they risk losing top jobs to mainland and expatriate professionals,” said Joe Ngai, member and convenor of the human capital committee of the FSDC (reported in the South China Morning Post).

If you’re a university student in Hong Kong right now, it may be time to improve your language skills and consider a career in compliance. Click here for our guide to graduate compliance careers in Asia.

Meanwhile:

Time to work in Chinese ECM? Potential “IPO bonanza” as China’s regulators consider letting Shanghai and Shenzhen review IPOs later this year. (South China Morning Post)

Houlihan Lokey has opened an office in Sydney and hired a local management team as it plans an Australian expansion. (CNBC)

If you thought foreign banks had it tough in China, try working for a law firm there. (Wall Street Journal)

An employee at Chinese bank Industrial Bank had died after plunging from a building at the Citibank Plaza complex in Hong Kong. (Wall Street Journal)

Singapore and London can work together to boost awareness of yuan-market developments, says joint forum between the cities. (Business Times)

Rise in Singaporean job vacancies. (Business Times)

Nanyang Technological University’s career fair is up and running in Singapore. (Channel News Asia)

Outlook for Asian banks is stable this year, says Moody’s. (The Star)


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