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Guest Comment: Choosing an employer is like choosing a restaurant – boutique is beautiful

Hearing that my friends don’t like their jobs and are seeking new opportunities is nothing new. Yet at least in one sense, some of today’s young professionals are heading in a different direction – small firms with high growth potential are in their sights.

There are many new boutique firms in Hong Kong with about five to 15 people, running funds with decent AUMs. One friend even mentioned he interviewed with a firm which had only three staff in a tiny office, but it seemed to be a place for him.

Of course it’s not as glamorous as working in the heart of Central Hong Kong, but he gets more responsibility, utilises all his expertise and focuses entirely on his specific job function.

What are other advantages of working for boutiques?

You have a lot more flexibility to focus on work, rather than wasting too much time maintaining good relationships with co-workers or getting involved in office politics. At large institutions, the fight to be promoted never ceases. Having more people means you are more prone to conflict.

Creating challenging careers is also an important aspect of what small firms can offer. They tell candidates: “here’s a new office, you work it up and create it into something big”. For top graduates the idea can be appealing because they know they will be replying on their own brand to build success, not the brand of a big firm. If they do well, it truly demonstrates their talent.

If the boss likes them, they might eventually become a partner or have a stake in the business. Why work at a large organisation where it can take so long to climb the corporate ladder? Personally, I would rather work in a small business where I learn more and get more freedom.

These are just some reasons why small firms attract talent. Ultimately, it’s just like picking a restaurant. You can go for a big Michelin-rated one, but don’t rule out those local, authentic ones with a long line of customers waiting to get in.

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