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Hot financial careers in Asia outside the front office this quarter

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As bonus season approaches, Asia’s financial sector will soon experience a flurry of glamorous client-facing career moves – from relationship managers to DCM bankers.

But if you work outside front-office financial services in Singapore or Hong Kong, don’t underestimate your value to your current employer – or a new one – this quarter. Your bonus may pale in comparison to the revenue generators, but you could still be sought after when it comes to internal promotions or new jobs.

Here’s our pick of the hottest financial careers in Asia in early 2015.

Client-onboarding careers

Client-onboarding specialists will be sought after across the finance sector in Singapore and Hong Kong Share on twitter this year. “With more stringent regulations shaping financial services in Singapore, there’s significant demand for KYC and client-onboarding candidates – from analysts to directors – but hiring managers face a severe talent shortage,” says Matthew Ng, manager of banking and financial services at recruiters Ambition in Singapore. “Besides the traditional institutions, some commodity and trading firms are also setting up client-onboarding teams in Singapore – targeting the same pool of candidates as the banks. In addition to the increase in regulations, there are also remediation projects that numerous firms have to undertake and that require additional manpower.”

Operational risk careers

This expanding job function will continue to suck up candidates in 2015, especially at the junior and mid-levels. Banks in Asia have urgent vacancies to fill for both first line of defence (risk people embedded within the front office) and second-line (centralised ops-risk teams) roles. Just two to three years ago most risk functions were driven out of global headquarters, but because of increased business operations in Asia, banks increasingly need larger teams on the ground. As in 2014, some operational risk jobs will be open to people seeking a career change – in particular those with backgrounds in product control, compliance, audit, operations and finance.

Corporate sector careers

Want to escape the front-office but still use similar skills?  Share on twitterAs Chinese companies expand globally, moving into corporate-sector CFO, COO or internal M&A jobs has been a popular option for director and MD-level bankers in Hong Kong over the past two years. “But now there’s a rise in corporate-development roles at the junior level – with many Hong Kong and Chinese corporates targeting young talent from big brand names such as Barclays and Credit Suisse,” says Jason Ne Win, a principal consultant at recruiters Selby Jennings in Hong Kong. “This is opening up a new route for junior bankers as the ladder of progression in traditional financial institutions is perceived to be shrinking. And the rise of this alternative career path is yet another obstacle for banks’ talent retention.”

Compliance careers at private banks

For compliance professional in Singapore and Hong Kong, private banking is now emerging as a viable and stable career alternative to investment and corporate banking. Private banks are boosting their compliance teams as they seek more revenue from Asia, the world’s fastest growing region for private wealth, and face tougher transparency and anti-money laundering regulations. “The supply of candidates is tight in Hong Kong and Singapore, given that private banks have been expanding both rapidly and recently,” Winnie Leung, an associate director at Pure Search in Hong Kong, told us. “Compliance professionals are therefore moving from investment banks. The skill set is directly transferable, although private banks usually cover a wider range of asset classes, so some learning will be involved. The surging demand has driven up salary levels, especially at VP to director level. We are observing 20% to 30% increases on base salaries if you change companies.”


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