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“Stranded” Asian bankers swamp recruiters with resumes after awful bonuses

Asian bankers

Recruiters in Hong Kong and Singapore say they are swamped with CVs this quarter as more banking professionals seek to switch jobs following poor bonus payments.

A new survey from recruitment firm Links International shows that 79% of financial services professionals in Asia are either likely to change jobs in 2017 or will at least consider moving. The equivalent figure 12 months ago was 64%.

“We’re seeing candidates becoming more open to moves this year compared with 2016 due to more positivity about the global economy, but also due to bonus pools being down year-on-year for the most part,” says Nick Lambe, group managing director of Links in Hong Kong.

Other recruiters in Asia says they are also experiencing an uptick in applications from job seekers.

Candidate enquiries have risen across the front, middle and back offices, says Nilay Khandelwal, regional director of recruiters Michael Page in Singapore.

The increase started as early as Q4 last year, when many banks in Asia told employees that their 2016 bonuses wouldn’t be as high as previous years, he says.

“Our sense of the job market early this year is that candidates are even more willing to move jobs,” adds Jay Abeyasinghe, an associate director of financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Singapore.

“Some banks have announced spectacularly mediocre bonuses so far. This is demotivating staff to such an extent that they are looking to move, even for a slight base pay increment,” says Abeyasinghe.

There’s also now a growing backlog of “dissatisfied” Asian finance professionals who are keen to find new jobs, says Abeyasinghe.

“This is partly driven by the fact that there are a lot of ‘stranded’ candidates due to very poor hiring in 2016. Last year saw a confluence of negative market events, which scared most people out of pro-actively switching roles,” he adds.

Unsurprisingly, the increased demand from job seekers isn’t match by the supply of banking jobs in Singapore and Hong Kong.

“The labour market in Asia is currently saturated with candidates who are immediately available because of redundancies at banks last year,” says Jack Leung, a senior manager at recruiters Hays in Hong Kong.

“It will prove challenging for many candidates to secure their ideal position in 2017,” he adds.  “Given this competitive landscape, many people are willing to accept roles on similar packages to what they’re currently on.”


Image credit: ehrlif

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