Investment banking redundancies have made their way to Asia. According to our Asian site, CLSA, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and UBS have been cutting staff (albeit not in enormous numbers). More Asian job cuts are expected.
Surprisingly, however, investment banking headhunters in London say there’s no sign of a retreat from Asian markets. If anything, they all agree, people in the City and Canary Wharf still see Asia as the solution to their problems.
“It’s tough in Asia now,” says the head of one fixed income search firm. “There’s not the exodus of London bankers to Hong Kong and Singapore that there was two years ago, but people are still moving there. There’s certainly not anyone coming back.”
The head of recruitment for one European investment bank in the City agrees that staff enthusiasm for moving to Asia hasn’t been dinted by recent redundancies there. “The tax rate in Hong Kong is so low that there are big financial benefits to moving there,” she says.
However, she also points to a less positive explanation for the failure of unemployed Western bankers in Asia to trickle back home: nowadays they’re mostly employed on cheaper local contracts.
“In the old days, when people had expat contracts, they’d have been repatriated following redundancy,” she says. “These days, people are on local contracts, so they’re more likely to stay put.”
If bankers who’ve been made redundant in Asia do come back to the UK, they will not find their experience particularly valued. “Asia-specific experience is irrelevant in London,” says the head of one search firm.
“If you’re going to get a job in London now, the best way to do it is to be a London specialist. But even those people are struggling,” says a partner at another search boutique.