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Regional banks expands into first-tier cities and jobs open up

Foreign banks are eager to set up branches in second and third-tier cities, but at the same time Chinese regional banks are doing the opposite: expanding into larger cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. This is in turn creating job opportunities at all levels.

The trend emerging is that regional banks like to grow into the first-tier city which is closest to their base. For example, in the past year, Bank of Hangzhou, Bank of Ningbo and Zhejiang Tailong Commercial Bank have set up branches in Shanghai.

“It is easier to do business in the city near their home state. Regional banks from North China may find it hard to win local clients in Shanghai. Beijing might be a better destination for them,” says Stephen He, senior consultant, banking and finance, Consult Group.

He says some banks are starting to shake off their regional image in the expansion process and will eventually become national players. “A good example is SPD Bank. Over the years, as it grows out of its home base, it loses it ‘Shanghainess’.”

And this expansion is creating more jobs. “Though the percentage growth of recruitment at regional banks is not as high as at foreign banks, given their existing number of employees, the newly-added headcounts can still be quite sizeable,” says Gary Lai, associate director, financial services and commerce finance, Robert Walters China.

Moreover, because regional banks have licenses for more operations than the foreign banks, their vacancies are spread across more job functions and levels of seniority.

For example, Shenzhen Development Bank is hiring credit officers, wealth management relationship managers and traders of forex, bonds, commercial paper and gold, for its Shanghai branches.

Meanwhile, at the senior level, regional banks welcome overseas candidates to apply. “They are keen to hire foreign talents for senior positions such as director and above. They are able to pay the salary, but finding the right candidates will be very difficult,” says Lai.

He also cautions that it will be hard for foreigners to adapt to the corporate culture of Chinese regional banks.

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