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Do returnee bankers need a reality check?

Returnee banking professionals sometimes have inflated salary expectations and their skills aren’t always in demand at domestic banks.

“All too often people looking to return to China go about their market research in the wrong way – by talking to friends, or just assuming that China is booming and that they can expect full expatriate packages, plus as high as 30 per cent increases on base pay,” says Michael Wright, chief talent officer, Idealpeople International.

The ability to demand high salaries depends on the returnee’s experience and job function. “The talent shortage here is so severe that sometimes, in particular situations, expectations are being met,” says Wright.

Recruiter Stephen He says returnees are generally paid slightly more than other employees, depending on how difficult the role is to fill.

Wright adds: “I imagine there is an undercurrent of resentment about this from domestic graduates. Not just for the mainlanders who are flying home, but there is a thick layer of Mandarin speakers from outside – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan – who seem to occupy many of the top executive slots in financial institutions.”

However, returnees with foreign degrees are increasingly encountering competition in the job market from graduates of domestic universities, especially if they apply for roles with local banks, adds He.

Moreover, domestic banks don’t always offer the type of roles which match the experience and capabilities of returnees from more mature markets, says a manager from Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, who asked not to be named.

A Chinese national coming back from London or Hong Kong, for example, will have probably worked in a narrowly defined job function, he says. Domestic banks, however, need all-rounders who can lead market explorations and manage overall operations.

Comments (1)

Comments
  1. I am a returnee banker now working with a nationally-chartered local bank. I have first-hand experience and stories about the cultural differences and life transition in workplace. The gap is so big that I don’t think a lot of older returnees who have stayed in the West for over 10 years can fit or quickly fit.

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