You want to land a job in the Asian finance sector before the end of the year. You’re not worried about forgoing your bonus at your existing firm or the current stock market chaos. You really want an exit.
It may not be the most active season for hiring in Singapore and Hong Kong, but some job functions still stand out. Here’s out pick.
“I’ve seen an increase in hiring for institutional sales jobs in asset management,” says John Mullally, director of financial services at recruitment agency Robert Walters in Hong Kong. “As large institutional investors in China are now allowed to invest in stocks in international asset management firms, these firms have an increasing need for institutional salespeople to help grow their AUM. They want candidates with a track record of dealing with large institutional clients, particularly in mainland China. While there is a big pool of institutional sales professionals, only a select group have the ability to raise assets, so there is a shortage of good candidates.”
Banks in Asia are boosting their teams of research analysts to advise clients amid volatile equity markets. “Strong analysts are highly sought both within both large banks and boutiques,” says Ben Batten, country general manager at recruiters Volt in Singapore. “This skill set is rather niche, particularly at the three to five-year level and we’ve seen very steep salary increases offered – in one case someone got 65%, only to have that counter offered by the bank. How long demand will last given the current challenges with China is yet to be seen, but I remain optimistic.”
“We’re seeing finance teams asking for candidates with experience calculating and doing financial modelling related to risk-weighted assets and capital-adequacy ratios – this is driven by the introduction of Basel III and Monetary Authority of Singapore requirements,” says Peiling Tan, a managing consultant at recruitment firm Hudson in Singapore. “There’s increased demand for this experience across regulatory reporting, product control, valuation control and market risk. But the talent pool is still fairly limited since the requirements were introduced only a few years back.”
“Continued growth in AUM in Asia managed by private equity firms has recently created a stronger demand for talent at PE firms, which is generally sourced from the top-performing investment bankers,” says Jan Dorgeist, an M&A and corporate finance consultant at recruitment firm Selby Jennings in Singapore. “But despite this expansion, PE remains one of the most competitive industries to break into. My advice to bankers in Asia is to specialise in specific sectors/geographies or tailor your exposure to single products, especially M&A, in order to stand out from the crowd and make your profile more attractive to specialist funds.”
“We’ve seen a spike in hiring for product specialists/product developers at corporate banks,” says Ellen Lai, a manager at recruitment firm Michael Page in Hong Kong. “Banks are diversifying their product coverage beyond traditional syndication and bilateral-loans into areas like aviation leasing, machinery leasing and trade finance. This has led to more product development jobs, not only to expand potential product ranges, but to quickly analyse the demands of a changing market. The candidate pool is limited and banks are usually willing to give a relatively high pay increments.”
Back in April DBS and insurance company Manulife signed a landmark US$1.2b Asian banassurance distribution deal. Many other banks are also now “aggressively” hiring business development professionals to sit in their banassurance-partnership teams, says Alexis Loh, a senior consultant at recruitment company Ambition in Singapore. “Banks need business developers to put distribution agreements in place through successful negotiations with various insurers. They need people with experience handling marketing campaigns in the insurance industry or experience in agency/brokerage distribution channels,” explains Loh.
“As an increasing number of banks offer online-lending services and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority tightens regulations in this area, there’s a spike in hiring for compliance and credit-risk specialists to deal with issues such as protecting data privacy and credit checking,” says Andrea Mak, manager of risk, compliance and operations at recruiters Randstad in Hong Kong. “Since online lending is a relatively new function, few compliance and credit risk candidates in Hong Kong have experience of it, so banks are open to hiring generalists, which is driving demand in risk and compliance even higher.”
Client onboarding has been an in-demand, if dull, job for several years – and hiring in this space has been focused at the junior level. This is now changing as banks look to bring more AVP and VP candidates into their onboarding teams, says Lynne Roeder, managing director of recruiters Hays in Singapore. “Because of constant regulatory changes within AML/KYC, banks have reorganised their teams to be more effective and are now looking for leaders.”