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Prerequisites for a big break into Asia

Like it or not, London isn’t where the big job opportunities are now. Asia is.

Last week alone, Mizuho reiterated its intention of hiring 170 people in Asia, BarCap hired a head of its Asian FIG group and a head of Asian technology banking, Julius Baer said it wants to double its proportion of Asian staff, and UBS hired a head of Asian capital introduction.

The Asian jobs rush is unsurprising given Goldman’s latest prediction that China will be the world’s largest stock market within the next two decades, and that emerging market stocks will soar fivefold to $80 trillion.

It’s not easy to get into Asia, but an article on our Singapore site, summarised below, suggests how it might happen.


1) Work in a non-client facing role

“Large banks are open to bringing in Western talents who can replicate what they have done in their previous product, strategy and middle-office roles. However, the activity we see is largely limited to those areas,” says Farida Charania, chief executive officer, for banking and financial services at Singapore-based executive search firm Nastrac.

2) Work in a specialised support function

As Asia expands and roles become more granular, there’s greater need for the kind of specialist expertise most commonly found in large established financial centres.

As a general rule, the more specialised the position, the more likely that a bank will consider an offshore candidate, says Craig Brewer, manager, banking and financial services, Hudson Singapore.
“When a number of banks are looking for the same skill set at the same time in Singapore or Hong Kong, supply and demand issues can arise far quicker than in the US and UK. The London banking market has a scale advantage over Singapore and Hong Kong: more candidates, more options,” he adds.
Brewer classes specialist support functions as product control, credit and market risk, investment banking operations and IT.


3) Work in private banking and have a book of Asian clients

“Private banking is not averse to non-locals as lot of European clients have a Singapore booking account. So as long as there is experience and an existing book, they can be relocated,” says Charania.
Nick Poole, executive director, Tiglon Partners Asia, adds: “In private banking, European-trained relationship managers are still highly thought of. They have a more long-term focus with a perceived degree of sophistication, and are less transactional in nature compared to their peers here.”

4) Move internally

Many bankers break into Asia via an in-house move. “It helps if you’re on the inside, because you’re a known quantity to the people around you, with your abilities known,” comments Poole

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