ANZ plans to double the amount of branches it has in China, but it faces a tough battle with other foreign banks to pick up local talent. The Australian firm has received approval from Beijing to set up locally incorporated units, which means it can apply for a yuan licence.
The licence, which ANZ expects to receive sometime next year, will allow it to provide domestic retail and business banking services, along with foreign currency and yuan products to its institutional clients.
ANZ wants to have as many as 20 branches in China in the next three years. It already operates in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, but its outlets there are considered foreign bank branches, which under Chinese regulations can only offer limited services.
However, recruiters in China contacted for this article believe it will be challenging to find employees for ANZ’s new offices. Hiring relationship managers to expand the firm’s fledgling client base will be particularly difficult because of a shortage of candidates who have strong local networks, and because rival foreign commercial banks are all seeking RMs at the same time.
“The challenge is branding and lack of quality staff in the retail sector,” comments one Shanghai-based headhunter who asked not to be named.
Although ANZ is the third largest bank in its home market and is rapidly strengthening its Asian presence in countries such as Singapore, in China it doesn’t currently have the candidate pulling power of the larger international firms.
Alex Thursby, ANZ chief executive for Asia Pacific, Europe and America, told reporters this week: “This is a story of 10 years of building a brand from scratch. If we think we can get to HSBC’s brand recognition in a year, then dream on.”
For candidate-short front-office roles, where there is not a large pool of active job seekers on the market, ANZ will be forced to poach from the likes of HSBC, Standard Chartered and even the local banks, according to the anonymous recruiter.
“These foreign banks are still struggling every day in terms of finding the right people for their retail business,” he adds.
So how will ANZ fulfill its expansion ambitions? The answer may boil down to money.
“ANZ is already paying above market rate for its corporate banking staff, and surely it has to do this as well to attract retail people,” says the recruiter.
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