Corporate finance recruitment is heating up in China as investment banks look to increase their headcount, say Gary Lai, associate director, banking commerce and finance, Robert Walters. The anticipated Agricultural Bank of China IPO has created optimistic sentiment that more listings will follow. Salary levels for senior investment bankers in China are highly competitive as international banks poach aggressively from one other, says Lai.
“There is a serious shortage of experienced bankers who understand the local market and having strong relationships with Chinese regulators. At more junior levels, investment banks are recruiting returning Chinese, who have studied or worked abroad, and are offering them global standardised international packages,” he adds.
Investment and private equity professionals with at least six years’ experience are in demand, says Eunice Ng, director of Avanza Consulting. Industry expertise in the energy, mineral, new media and consumer/FMCG sectors is particularly sought after “There is also a trend of looking for people with prior networking or working experience in the Chinese state-owned enterprises.”
But while investment advisory and private equity firms (such as CICC, Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group and KKR) are continuously expanding, they are extremely cautious about who they hire. “The recruitment process is not as fast as expected and firms are taking a series of steps to screen out unsuitable people. People that are passionate about going into PE or investment, but who lack China-based or industry experience are not going to find work,” adds Ng.
The employment market for private bankers is now much more competitive compared with 2009, says Shearer Liu, consultant, Talent2. With the economy growing rapidly, many “new wealthy individuals” have appeared in 2010 and this has increased demand for wealth management services in regions like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and even in the second and third-tier cities.
Some local banks have formed joint ventures with foreign firms (e.g Citic and BBVA) to establish new private banking divisions with the aim of improving services levels, branding and territorial coverage. “From a human resources point of view, the consequence is that private bankers are in the spotlight because every bank wants them, especially highly experienced, mature professionals with solid client resources,” adds Liu.
Experienced relationship mangers servicing local corporations are in high demand at international banks in China, says George Wang, general manger, Randstad China. Domestic companies increasingly want professional financing solutions to help them continue to grow and internationalise.
“People who maintain good relationships with Chinese local corporates, as well as having a high sense of credit analysis and good communication skills in English, will be greatly sought after,” says Wang.
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