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Chinese banks are hiring overseas, but don’t expect a great expat package

It’s official – China’s state-owned banks are taking the fight to their overseas competitors. Earlier this month, China Construction Bank vice president Fan Yifei said the firm was planning to expand its global footprint by opening branches in financial hubs which have close trade and investment ties with China.

He named possible countries which could see branches opened before 2011 as including Canada, Taiwan and Brazil. Meanwhile, fellow state-owned bank ICBC has set up shop in Vietnam and India this year.

Recruiters say Chinese banks have ratcheted up their recruitment for overseas posts accordingly.

The new foreign branches are expected to be staffed by a mix of new local hires and Chinese employees seconded from headquarters, says Brodie McDougall, Shanghai-based senior manager at Michael Page International.

“They would need to have someone from the foreign market in a fairly senior spot, and that could be a general manager or head of operations who actually understands the requirements for setting up a local representative office,” adds McDougall.

He says banks will also be looking for compliance personnel and commercial banking relationship managers with a good understanding of the domestic market.

Chinese bankers seconded abroad are likely to be paid more than their counterparts back at headquarters, but they don’t enjoy the generous expatriate packages that many Western banking executives receive in China, such as family medical coverage, international school fees and cars.

Free housing is the main benefit for overseas-based Chinese, according to Cherol Cheuk, Shanghai-based director of banking for Hudson. “We are talking about packages which are still very minimal compared with expats working in foreign banks in China,” she adds.

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