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Remembering 2011: Trends in the Chinese banking sector

Qianhai wants to look like this

Qianhai wants to look like this

Here’s our look at the year that was in China.

The year ended quietly

Cherol Cheuk, general manager, Hudson Global Resources Shanghai, says recruitment was still strong in Q1, but fell in the second half of the year partly because of the global economic slowdown. “This was due to the seasonal impact of year-end bonuses as well.” Rio Goh, manager, Michael Page Financial Services, adds: “A slowdown in the last part of this year is not unusual, given most candidates in the market are waiting for their salary increments and bonus numbers.”

Sign-offs got slower

Goh says the European sovereign debt crisis has caused a high level of uncertainty and slowed down decision making at headquarter level. Approval times at foreign banks have therefore been longer than last year, especially in Q3 and Q4, when several positions were put on hold or cancelled, says Vivian Ng, managing director, Morgan McKinley.

The front office held firm; the back office didn’t

Front-office roles like relationship management remained in demand throughout the year in commercial and retail banking. “However, the back office in the banking sector is reducing. Positions such as operations and risk have cut their headcounts,” says Cheuk.

Not so much i-banking action

“IPO and M&A processes have obviously slowed down, which resulted in less recruitment in investment banking, especially in positions such as compliance, legal, M&A and deal execution,” says Vivien Zhou, consultant of banking & financial services, Talent 2 Shanghai.

But sponsors were still sought after

There are only 2,000 sponsors in total in China, and a typical one earns about 2m yuan a year, including bonuses. “It’s fierce competition for every securities firm to recruit sponsors, especially for newly-established foreign players. Also, as they are usually working on IPO projects, it typically takes four to six months to get them on board, which prolongs lead time for both employers and recruiters,” says Zhou.

Wealth management became the sector for the future

Following the lead of UBS and Goldman Sachs, firms such as CITICS and Shen Yin Wan Guo Securities are building up their wealth management divisions. Wealth management departments are starting to work closely with investment banking teams to meet client demand for IPO and M&A services. “Given that wealth management is a growing sector, more and more wealth management bankers will be needed, especially those who have an investment banking, legal or accountant background,” adds Zhou.

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