China’s second largest bank, China Construction Bank (CCB), wants to acquire a European bank and this could trigger both domestic and overseas recruitment. The mainland firm could fork out as much as US$15bn on a deal and potential targets include partly-nationalised businesses such as RBS and Commerzbank.
Jason Tan, director of financial services and banking, PSD Group, says: “Chinese firms expanding overseas would mean a larger volume of international job mobility for high-potential talent. Currently, it’s rare to see local banking talent with overseas experience in developed markets.”
However, this could change. Tan says other Asian banks with international operations have already been consistently assigning their youngest and brightest professionals to other countries. “DBS, OCBC, Mizuho, Daiwa and SMBC have been practicing this for many years.”
Internal vs external hires
There could also be a need for mid-to-senior Chinese bankers for overseas postings. Tan says they could potentially be recruited from foreign firms with strong local businesses given that they command the highest level of exposure at group and board level. However, Chinese banks are more likely to tap their own talent, cultivated from management trainee days, he adds.
Chinese firms who venture overseas can attract Western talent provided there is strategy, culture and compensation fit. “We are likely to see a few senior Western bankers making this jump over the next five to 10 years. What is the upside? To join the next evolution of the banking sector, be in a position to create a more prudent banking environment and introduce new products to a new category of clients.”
Apart from the requisite experience (products, systems and regulation) and business acumen, candidates need to be able to assimilate quickly to a new country. Bilingual language skills are another plus.
That said, Chinese firms haven’t always made successful foreign deals (see China Investment Corp with Morgan Stanley and Blackstone; China Development Bank with Barclays; and Ping An with Fortis). “With CCB’s overseas acquisition, candidates will likely take a cautious approach to see if the marriage is working before making the jump.”