Chinese investment banks are hiring

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Last week, the Financial Times ran an article rejoicing in the fact that Chinese banks are now the biggest in the world by market cap and predicting they're about to report record 2008 profits.

Chinese banks are also growing their investment banking divisions. China Construction Bank (CCB), CITIC Group and BOCI are all understood to be expanding.

Some of this growth will be fuelled by graduate hiring. Domestically, Chinese banks reportedly intend to recruit 37,500 college leavers this year, although most will go into retail banking roles. Joint ventures are also driving growth - Citic Securities is forming a JV with Evercore.

However, headhunters in Hong Kong say Chinese banks are also eyeing up external hires: "The profiles they are looking for are international bankers/brokers, with strong Asian (and more specifically Hong Kong/China exposure), who are leaving the larger global tier one firms," says Justin McLennan, a director at search firm Pelham.

In January, for example, Citic hired former Bear Stearns banker, Federico Bazzoni, to build an Asian equities business, and promised to push into London and New York in the second half of this year. China-based investment bank The Hina Group has also declared an interest in recruiting bankers with international experience, and China Construction Bank made its London debut in February and is hiring for FX.

It would, however, be foolish to underestimate the difficulty of getting a job with a Chinese financial entity. According to one job seeker, writing on our Hong Kong site, headhunters in Hong Kong are being inundated with CVs from the US and Europe and western bankers are flying to Asia to meet them even though they have no interviews lined up.

For their domestic market, McLennan says Chinese banks are almost exclusively interested in people who speak Mandarin and have prior Asian experience, although America and European educated Chinese nationals with experience of working for international banks are also a possibility.