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Top tips for moving from Hong Kong to the mainland

For Hong Kong candidates who want a job at a foreign bank in the mainland, the good news is that CVs usually aren’t so different to those in Hong Kong. But you need to pay attention to the following areas.

Interviewers will question your commitment to China

HK candidates should expect to answer questions about their long-term plans to stay in China, says Emma Charnock, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong and China.

Vivian Ng, managing director, Morgan McKinley, adds that interview processes tend to be slightly longer in the mainland, with three rounds being a conservative minimum. “Interviews are largely conducted in Mandarin, although a good command of English is required for most positions.”

Business Mandarin is (usually) a must

Job seekers need to be able to read and write Mandarin for most roles at foreign banks in China. “Conversational Mandarin is definitely not enough. Some positions also require candidates to sit exams to get their relevant licenses and these require the candidates to know financial terms in Mandarin,” says Ng.

Charnock agrees but says there are occasional exceptions. “For some front-office positions, a native Mandarin speaker is a must, and if the candidate can also speak the local dialect, this is preferred. But for some senior finance technology roles, where talent is very difficult to find, Mandarin is not a requirement and the skill set is instead the priority.”

Insights over experience

Although most roles demand mainland experience, some senior jobs are more open to Hong Kongers, says Ng. Given that HK candidates come from a mature banking system, foreign firms in China expect them to bring new insights to the bank – something which locals can’t do so easily.

Salaries: Aim high but prepare for a tax hit

Hong Kong has a more advanced banking system than China in terms of product ranges and service levels. “Some employers are therefore willing to pay a premium for people who have worked in the Hong Kong banking industry. They are also willing to pay more because of the relocation costs associated with a move to China,” says Charnock.

Ng adds: “Candidates have to be prepared for the higher tax rate in China as not all employers will equalise tax.”

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  1. Do you think the foreign banks in China are really doing well?

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