Mandarin is becoming mandatory for many financial jobs in Hong Kong, but roles remain for people who only speak English.
Quantitative development and algorithmic trading are two of the most viable options for English speakers, says John Mullally, associate director, financial services, Robert Walters Hong Kong. “The highly technical nature of such jobs requires strong mathematical, IT and computer-programming skills rather than the ability to interact with Chinese clients or investor-relations professionals,” he adds.
While many quants and algo traders in Hong Kong are Chinese, they are not hired for their language ability. “If banks or hedge funds find a candidate with an academic background in mathematics or another hard science, and experience working in quantitative finance, they will likely hire them regardless of nationality or language.”
Project management also provides opportunities for English-language candidates, says Nick Lambe, managing director, Morgan McKinley Hong Kong. “Large strategic projects are not always run from a single location, so HK, Singapore, London and New York will often share the development before they are rolled out globally,” he says. “This creates pockets of experienced professionals across geographies and a talent shortage in one location drives an international approach to hiring.”
The responsibilities of project managers within global banks typically demand a strong command of English. “Senior project managers will need experience of designing, delivering the project from end to end, stakeholder engagement, and challenging the business to change their target operating models,” says Lambe.
There are also many options within the energy sector, says Emma Charnock, director, Hong Kong and China, Spencer Ogden. These include IT-development jobs and energy-trading quantitative roles focused on product structuring and commodity analysis.