What’s the chance of Sydney becoming a global financial hub and location of choice for the ultra-mobile international banker?
Not much, according to one headhunter in the city. Anthony Ayers, principal consultant at Chandler Heath Executive Search, says Australia is unlikely to rival the likes of Hong Kong in the foreseeable future: “Australia’s GDP, geography, and remuneration will all hold it back,” he predicts. “The country will always be constrained by these factors.”
Nevertheless, there are a few factors in our favour. Despite having a tiny population by global standards (just 21m), the private pension market is the fourth largest in the world at AU$1trillion.
Optimists, such as Steve Tucker, chief executive of MLC, the wealth management division of National Australia Bank, also point to the country’s proximity to Asia, its mature and internationally recognised regulatory system and an open market economy with a highly-skilled and multi-lingual workforce.
“There’s also the capacity to meet the industry’s workforce needs for the next generation – nearly 250,000 people are studying finance-related tertiary courses in NSW and Victoria alone,” he was recently quoted in the Industry Standard as saying.
However, headhunter Ben Derwent, managing director of search firm Derwent Executive, says there are several reasons why Australia isn’t the place to be. Taxes and living costs are high: “Sydney is an expensive place to live; add the fear that half [your earnings] will be lost in tax, then talent will also look elsewhere.”
Secondly, senior openings are all too few: “There are fewer head offices in Australia and smaller deals, so people will quickly outgrow this market. The attractiveness of putting your roots down here in the prime of your career is probably less than other markets.”