☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

THE CHINA COLUMN: why do so many young Chinese want to work at banks?

As you may already know, working at a bank is considered to be very prestigious in China. Rightly or wrongly, bank employees are generally recognised to be more intelligent, earn higher salaries, and enjoy higher social status. This is known as the “golden bowl” effect in China’s banking industry.

Young Chinese graduates’ passion for the sector has shown no sign of decreasing, even amid the recent financial crisis and global recession. According to the latest data from the China Finance Institute, about 24 per cent of all graduates want to join a bank when they graduate.

Banks, in particular large local ones, still rank highly in a 2009 graduate employers-of-choice survey from branding research company Universum.

No.3 Bank of China


No.9 China Development Bank

No.16 China Merchants Bank

No.20 CICC

No.21 China Construction Bank

No.25 Citigroup

No.26 HSBC

But the real question here is WHY are banks so popular?

It’s demand driven: candidates are just following the jobs

A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers states that the 42 foreign banks surveyed expect to employ 44,192 by 2013. This is a 48 per cent headcount increase compared with this year, or 14,453 new employees. Meanwhile, the China Finance Institute has reported that Chinese banks expect to see a 10 per cent rise in employees in the next three years.

As competition between local and foreign banks intensifies and the Chinese real economy continues to rapidly expand, the demand for banking talent will increase accordingly. This type of job market makes banks an obvious career choice for graduates.


Banks pay well, and remuneration is one of the most important reasons why graduates like working for them. The annual base salary for a mid-level banker at a Chinese firm is between RMB150k and RMB250k, while an MD could easily get RMB500k, according to the China Finance Institute.

That’s obviously far less than equivalent roles in Western countries, but it’s very competitive in China, and the figures don’t include monthly allowances and year-end bonuses.

Now take a look at foreign banks in China: the PwC survey found that salaries are expected to increase between 3 and 20 per cent this year. No wonder graduates are attracted by such lucrative numbers.

Career development and overseas experience

Young Chinese are very career-development oriented. They meticulously design their career paths and actively climb the corporate ladder to achieve their goals. A bank with a complete set of training and development programmes therefore looks extremely attractive to them.

Some of the most popular ones include: HSBC’s Banker Development Programme (BDP); DBS’s Management Associate Programme (MAP), and Citibank’s Senior Management Building.

These programmes all have one thing in common: a career-enhancing foreign assignment. Remember that banks in China tend to favour candidates with overseas experience and employees who are successful abroad often get important positions when they return.

Click here
to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Comments (3)

  1. HSBC’s BDP Program is really good !

  2. I dumped HSBC’s China BDP offer 4 years ago and went for the full scholarship for Masters in Europe. Now after my graduation from Europe, I can’t find a job as decent as the one I dumped!

  3. I think not just the graduates in China, but also worldwide graduates love to work in the bank. Even i myself and my friends, who soon to be graduating next year, mostly would opt for bank. The main reason for my friends and I is because of the field we are taking which related to the banking/economic field. So bank is the only chance for us to apply what we have learn and our talent out. However, due to the economic crisis, banks in Malaysia are trying to cut down the emplyment in economic research field. Hence, it is quite hard for us as fresh grads to enter into the banking sector unless the person is with reference by the people in the bank. The salary that offered to the fresh-grads, from the bank are pretty low, hence I would say that the 2nd reason for us to stilll opting for banks is because the prestigious that could “beautify” and gaining glam in our CV. Perhaps, other countries like China, HK and Sg in asia would open more chances to recruit fresh grads from other country.

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here