If there’s anything resembling a sacred cow in the investment banking job market, it’s the idea that young Chinese bankers are as desirable as they come.
Sadly, this may no longer hold true. Despite the hope that China might soon lift its moratorium on domestic listings and assertions that the world economic centre of gravity is moving to Asia, Chinese bankers are not as popular as all that.
Matthew Hoyle, chief executive of Hong Kong-based recruitment firm Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets, says he’s deluged with CVs from Chinese bankers with a few years’ experience in New York or London who want to return to Asia.
“Up to associate level, the supply far exceeds the demand,” says Hoyle. “Hong Kong is awash with highly qualified junior people who think that because they speak an Asian language and have a few years’ banking experience, they’ll get a job. That’s really not the case any more.”
Instead of starting out in London or New York and hoping to move to Asia a few years later, Chinese bankers’ better bet in the current circumstances might be to stick to Asia all along. “If you haven’t got a Hong Kong mobile number or address on your CV, people won’t look at you,” says Hoyle.
So if young Chinese bankers aren’t hot, who is? Adrian Ezra, chief executive of international search firm Execuzen, says Indians and Koreans are at least as popular. Hoyle says highly qualified Indians are flooding the Asian market: “There’s huge, huge competition. A lot of the Indians are absolutely top notch.”