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Chinese banks hiring almost 20% of Hong Kong staff from global firms

Chinese banks Hong Kong

All roads lead to Chinese banks

Chinese banks are routinely touted by recruiters in Hong Kong as virtually the only viable job option for people recently laid off from global banks.

As we reported last month, several Chinese investment banks (such as Citic, which is on a hiring drive) are interested in taking on the Hong Kong bankers who were cut during Goldman Sachs’ rout of front-office staff in Asia.

But to what extent do the major mainland players in Hong Kong really employ staff from global firms? And which particular foreign institutions do they prefer to poach from?

To find out, we worked out the Hong Kong headcounts of nine Chinese firms via the number of their staff who have online profiles (some mainland institutions, such as China Securities, Haitong Securities and China Construction Bank were excluded because the data set was too small).

Then we calculated the percentages of their staff who have previously been employees of 14 of the largest non-Chinese banks in Hong Kong (we excluded Barclays and BAML, however, because almost none of their ex-employees are now at mainland banks).

While the figures in the table below only reflect people who have public profiles, they do suggest which foreign banks in Hong Kong are supplying the most staff to their Chinese competitors.

Overall, our figures reveal that 19% of Hong Kong employees of PRC banks have experience at international firms.

“That’s already a fairly sizable minority and proves that Chinese banks are not insular in their recruitment – they don’t just hire fresh grads and poach from each other,” says a Hong Kong-based headhunter.

“But I think the percentage is likely to rise year by year because Chinese banks are now getting more aggressive in their recruitment and global banks are scaling back here,” he adds.

Unsurprisingly, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citi – three of the most Asia-focused foreign firms – are Chinese banks’ main hunting grounds. On average, 4.7% of the Hong Kong workforce of Chinese banks was once employed by HSBC, according to staff profiles.

Our figures also indicate that Chinese firms with an investment banking focus are among those employing the most staff from their global rivals. International expertise is becoming more valuable in the cross-border deals that Chinese banks are increasingly helping their mainland clients with.

More than a quarter of the Hong Kong workforce of CICC – the firm that tops our table – has global-bank experience, for example.

Any Goldman Sachs bankers that do join Citic will find some of its staff (21%) have also worked at non-Chinese firms – although none of them are ex-Goldmanites, according to their profiles.


Image credit: luxizeng, Getty

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