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Hong Kong banks to focus on retention, ‘relentless’ wealth management hiring in 2014

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In the third and final article stemming from last week’s eFinancialCareers bi-annual roundtable in Hong Kong for recruiters from leading international banks, we ask them to gaze into their crystal balls for the outlook for 2014.

One of the dominant themes of bank hiring in Asia in recent months has been the demand for wealth management professionals, and the recruiters at several of Hong Kong’s leading banks said last week at the bi-annual eFinancialCareers roundtable that this would continue ‘relentlessly’ in 2014.

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Speaking about their expectations for the hiring landscape in Asia for the next 12 months, the recruiters, who represented many of the world’s leading global banks, said there had been no let-up in the challenge of finding suitable candidates for the burgeoning wealth management industry as Asia becomes home to one of the world’s largest population of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. 

One banker said it was particularly tough trying to find private bankers for China, given the essential language requirements on top of the need for solid compliance experience and product knowledge. And compliance and risk – also hot jobs in 2013 –  would continue to be in-demand roles in 2014, as banks around the world scrambled to meet tougher disclosure and transparency requirements.

Another recruiter concurred, saying that his bank was finding it hard to find sufficient buy-side professionals in Asia, as the pool was small. As well as the required product knowledge and language abilities, candidates also needed to have an established track-record and solid client relationships.

Retention was a key theme of the roundtable discussion, and several of the banks spoke of the various initiatives that would be underway in 2014 to keep staff, given the cost of employee churn in a region where good candidates were still scarce.

Several of the banks said that 2014 would also be a year of focusing on managerial skills as part of their retention strategies. Billed “The Year of the Manager”, there would be investment in training managers about engaging with their staff, and focusing on retention as well as productivity.

One of the world’s largest banks said that there was unlikely to be a ‘massive’ uptick in hiring, but rather, 2014 would focus on bedding down and settling down after the upheaval in 2013, which she said had been a ‘very different kind of year’.

A recruiter from a bank with an aggressive Asian expansion strategy, said that its focus would be on corporate, commercial and private bank hires, as well as more robust activity in risk and compliance, but said this wouldn’t necessarily imply major growth in job numbers, rather it would centre on ‘improving and upgrading’ the quality of staff.

All the banks said that 2014 would be significantly affected by the Capital Requirements Directive IV, which would come into effect in 2015 but would determine how 2014 performance was measured. CRD IV looks at the limits between the fixed and variable components of total compensation, and affects bonus payouts. The banks said that it would particularly affect senior hires.

 

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