Think finance careers in Asia Pacific, think private banking and princelings with a side-order of risk and compliance. But behind the headline-grabbing hot jobs in the region, lurks a less obvious layer of opportunities for banking and finance professionals looking for work.
Recruiters in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia tell us about some under-the-radar roles that remain in demand.
Demand for COB roles has risen over the last 12 months, mainly within wealth management, said Kyle Blockley, co-founder of KS Consulting in Singapore. “As there is little growth now in IB in Asia, all the efforts are being put into securing consumer wealth, and with this comes an increased number of clients, and following that the need to onboard them,” he added. “Onboarding skills include know-your-customer and investigative skills. The local talent pool in Singapore is strong; candidates can be found without too much difficulty.”
As the fund industry continues to expand in Asia, buy-side firms are increasingly looking to reduce back-office costs by outsourcing their administration to fund-services providers like HSBC, Citco, Citi and State Street. These companies are creating fund-administration and accounting jobs as a result, according to a Hong Kong headhunter who asked not to be named. “At the outsourced providers, candidates get exposure to many different funds and strategies, and while Asian experience is preferred, they will consider candidates from other financial centres, especially those with local language skills,” said Hong Kong-based Fraser Douglas, a managing consultant at Links International.
Increasing demand for life insurance products in Hong Kong over the past year has led to a shortage of life and medical underwriters in the territory, said James Carss, managing director Asia, Dryden Human Capital. And as insurers compete to quickly bring in new business, there is growing pressure on underwriters to process clients as efficiently as possible. “To cope with the business volumes, many life insurance companies are creating lucrative incentives, such as pay rises of 15% or more, to attract solid life underwriters,” Carss added.
An amendment to Australia’s Privacy Act, giving lenders access to more comprehensive credit information about potential borrowers, comes into effect in March. In the meantime, banks and other credit providers are beefing up their data and analytics teams to make sure they comply with the new regime, said Toby Aikins, a director at Melbourne consultancy Connected Analytics. “Anyone with any specific experience in comprehensive credit reporting – whether it was gained locally or internationally, the US has had similar legislation for nearly 30 years – is in high demand and can effectively move from project to project over the next five years,” he added.
AML professionals aren’t short of job opportunities in Asia. “The focus for AML at banks has shifted from Europe into Asia, as the region looks to catch up on policies and procedures for new clients,” said Ha Vi-Linh, a senior consultant at Ambition in Singapore. “While there’s a good local talent pool at the junior to mid level, where the role is more operational, the need to import talent from outside of Asia increases at the senior end, where it’s important for candidates to understand the overall impact of the regulations on new clients,” she added.
Australia recently toughened up its regulations governing retail financial planning to ensure consumers receive better investment advice. The rigorous Future of Financial Advice reforms, however, have prompted some experienced planners to leave the sector, opening up a “big skills gap”, said Jane McNeill, director of Hays Banking in Sydney. “Banks and boutique practices alike want on-the-ground exposure more than academic qualifications. As a result, a lot of people who have completed a Diploma in Financial Planning cannot get in the door to start practising.”
As Mandarin-speaking investors from China and Taiwan funnel more money into Hong Kong – where the local language is Cantonese – asset management firms and hedge funds in the territory are trying to recruit more Mandarin-speakers into their client-facing ranks, according to Kirstin MacLaren, director of financial services at Michael Page in Hong Kong. “Client-services professionals with finance-sector experience and language skills are seeing large salary increases to move companies, generally a 20 to 30% increment on base salary.”