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A preview of 2011: The most sought-after sectors in China

Here’s our snapshot of some of the job functions which will be at the forefront of hiring over the next 12 months. But how will YOU fare in the employment market in 2011? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Global markets roles (particularly compliance-related ones)

There is a great shortage of candidates with global markets business exposure in China. The combination of product knowledge and a good understanding of the regulatory framework is even rarer, says Rio Goh, manager, Michael Page Financial Services. An increasing number of investment banks are expanding in global markets as regulators are providing more opportunities for growth. But regulators also require someone in the firm to be able to follow CBRC guidelines.

“Apart from the technical skills required, a compliance officer should also be able to advise on aspects of the global markets business in order that line management can ensure the business is conducted in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and codes of practice,” adds Goh.

Next year looks like a good one for job seekers. “If you’re in a global markets or compliance role now – and you have the ambition to enhance your compliance knowledge in a rapidly changing markets environment, and you are able to build report with external and internal stakeholders – you should expect a call in 2011.”

Insurance specialists at banks

There are three key reasons why banks are crying out for insurance specialists, according to Shearer Liu, banking consultant, Talent2 Beijing. Firstly, in Nov 2010, CBRC banned insurance companies from sending their own salespeople to bank branches. Only bank employees with an insurance license can now sell bancassurance. Secondly, each bank branch is restricted to selling no more than three insurance companies’ policies. Finally, bancassurance products are highly profitable, so banks cannot afford to ignore this revenue stream.

“The insurance specialist role has becoming far more important than before. IS’s main responsibilities are training retail relationship managers to sell bancassurance products; joint-calling with RMs to close big insurance-related deals; and handling insurance enquiries or complaints from customers,” explains Liu.

In 2011 large retail banks such as HSBC, Citibank, China Merchants Bank and China Minsheng Bank will be hiring heavily in order to maintain or exceed their insurance targets.

Relationship managers at foreign banks in second-tier and third-tier cities

With the foreign banks’ fast expansion in second and third-tier cities in China, local enterprises have become more important target clients for them. There is a strong demand for relationship managers who can sell corporate and investment banking products to local corporate accounts, says George Wang, general manager, Randstad China. Because of fierce competition for talent, junior RMs often receive rapid promotions, as well as good salaries and job titles.

But foreign banks can find it difficult to attract and retain senior RMs who have strong relationships with local corporates. “Because financial knowledge can be trained, more and more foreign banks are now starting to hire candidates who have a strong sales background, but no banking-related experience,” comments Wang.

Transaction banking

The post-financial crisis need for more stable banking revenues, along with increases in imports and exports, have helped cause a surge in transaction banking recruitment. Rising demand from large companies for better cash management and the volatility of the forex markets are other key reasons, says Cherol Cheuk, director, banking and financial services, Hudson. Banks are moving relationship managers into transaction banking in order to tackle a talent shortage. Most RMs welcome this career change because some of their skills are transferable and there is potential for better work life balance, adds Cheuk.


With the development of derivative products and tightening regulation of investment advisors, compliance professionals are needed to make sure their bank is conducting its business appropriately. “As more foreign banks set up local branches in China, the regulators must run audit checks on their ‘foreign origin babies’ on a regular basis. Compliance candidates with experience in CBRC audits will be in demand,” says Stephen He, senior consultant, banking and finance, Consult Group.

If you want a compliance role in China, you also need to know how the regulators operate. “Therefore, those who have a better understanding of the local bureaucratic culture, together with a risk mindset, will find it much easier to get on.”

While anti-money laundering (AML) plays a fairly crucial role in the banking sector, its importance has not yet extended to non-banking institutions such as insurance companies, securities firms, and fund houses, adds He. “But they will definitely try to poach compliance talents from banks in the near future.”

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