Australia's banks push into Asia

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ANZ Bank is about to embark on a major hiring program to support its expansion into Asia. Other banks are expected to follow close on its heels.

ANZ CEO John McFarlane is behind the new push into Asia, and said that in the New Year the bank will launch a recruitment drive aimed at the postgraduate market. "We're looking to recruit a substantial number of graduates with Asian language skills or Asia backgrounds."

ANZ recently announced the purchase of strategic stakes in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank in China and AMMB in Malaysia, adding to its investments in the Tianjing City Commercial Bank, and ANZ branches scattered through the region. Currently about 10% of its capital is invested in Asia, and analysts expect this to rise to around 25%.

Other Australian banks are also lifting their Asia presence, particularly the Commonwealth Bank, which owns stakes in Jinan City Commercial Bank, Hangzhou Commercial Bank and has other joint ventures and a mortgage broking business in the country. Both ANZ and the CBA have, or are seeking, stakes in Indonesian banks.

"I think there will be an impact on the market but not just because of ANZ," says Rick Jainsz, of BSI People. "There are a few banks looking at growing their Asian operations and good people are going to be hard to find."

Ian Wilson, from Boyden Partners, said companies in all sectors were understanding the advantage of hiring local staff. "You need people that share the vision and understand the local culture, it's proving more effective than sending expatriates," he says.

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