Last year I switched from a leading Chinese brokerage in Hong Kong to another one. Despite similar job duties, I got better pay and seemingly better prospects. But this was late 2011 and the securities market wasn’t great. My firm started to cut headcount and I was laid off.
Even before my redundancy, I had been thinking about my career; I couldn’t see much of a future if I kept struggling in securities brokerages in Hong Kong. So I looked for a more sustainable and sought-after field.
With the help of friends, I joined the corporate lending team of a Hong Kong bank. Without any experience in the banking industry and coming from a mainland-headquartered firm, I have had to adapt to a different working environment. Here are three reasons why I prefer banking.
My colleagues in the brokerage were cold and the people in the bank are relatively welcoming. Why? One of the reasons is because salespeople in brokerages work hard to meet individual targets. They develop their own business. Their colleagues’ performance is meaningless to their salary and bonus. However, here at the bank, team targets are important. It is difficult to finish a deal without the help of your teammates and other support staff. So people are quite nice to newcomers and they don’t mind assisting with your work.
Most people who have worked for both mainland and Hong Kong employers have experienced cultural differences. For example, the Chinese love office politics. They are not good at it, but they are passionate about it. Everybody is thinking about how to damage their colleagues’ careers. They are not considering constructive ideas, but planning destructive ones. They are working hard not just to show off their own abilities, but to uncover weaknesses in others.
In banks nearly all managers are familiar with the business and how to achieve its goals. They are experienced in the sector and have worked hard for many years to reach management level. But in brokerage houses, there are some bosses who have very good academic backgrounds, but are not familiar with the industry. They don’t know how to run a business.
To conclude, I personally believe that brokerage houses are no longer good places to develop a career in Hong Kong. Banking is more trustworthy. I think I have finally found what I have been looking for in a job.
The views expressed by this blogger are his own and not those of eFinancialCareers.