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Hong Kong and Singapore: Reviewing the talent war

These sectors stood out from the crowd as hiring in Singapore and Hong Kong enjoyed a good year.

Private banking relationship managers

Both Singapore and Hong Kong have seen a surge in demand for private banking relationship managers. Most leading banks were looking to grow their RM teams in 2010 and demand far exceeded supply. But the musical chairs of experienced bankers rotating between employers could not continue ad infinitum, so firms have recently become more creative with their sourcing channels.

“The banks are now focusing more on newly created wealth: entrepreneurs and business owners who perhaps haven’t been so heavily targeted previously. Accordingly, they are now looking for RMs who have access to this market,” says Oliver Draper, a director at Consult Group.

Corporate bankers who are open to changing job functions and providing private banking services to individuals who owned the companies they previously advised in M&A or investment transactions are now in demand. “So are financially savvy accountants, business advisors and entrepreneurs who have relationships with the target client base,” adds Draper.

Investment bankers with China connections

There was strong demand for Mandarin-speaking bankers with China experience in Hong Kong this year, especially at associate to VP level, as both buy and sell-side firms expanded their mainland operations, says Levina Poon, director, banking and financial services, Hudson Hong Kong. Financial-institutions bankers were especially sought after in 2010, driven by mergers and listings, such as the Agricultural Bank of China IPO.

But FIG talent was in short supply. “The skills set that are required from FIG bankers are far more specific than other industry groups – for example looking at financial statements. That means candidates from other industries might not be able to perform right away,” adds Poon.

Project managers in operations

Projects roles in the back office continued to be a key focus for banks across Asia. “Improvement to the ‘customer experience’ is essential to ensure a competitive edge. Similarly, as competition heats up to hire effective revenue generators, the pressure is on the operational functions to ensure effective processes,” comments Kate Harper, manager, banking, Connected Group.

The problem in 2010, however, was recruiting project managers with specific banking-sector experience. “There is a community of very effective change managers in Hong Kong, not least in the business consulting firms, which have exceptional business-advisory teams. But how many of these people are immediately successful in an internal banking role? Few,” she adds.

Futures brokers

Future brokers were a hot commodity this year as broking firms expanded their Asian operations to cope with increased activity in the listed and cleared-product space. “Candidates in demand are those with the necessary regulatory licenses, experience of trading listed products on multiple exchanges, a track record of sales generation, and ideally, transferable clients,” says Leisha Pigott, director global markets, ALS International.

Because of talent shortages in Singapore and Hong Kong, some positions are being filled with UK and US professionals who currently service Asian clients on a night desk, or who have a history of developing a client base and are opting for Asia for tax and lifestyle reasons, she adds.

Finance techies who know the banking business

In 2010, banks were crying out for IT professionals who could bridge the gap between technology and the business, says Tristan Amin, senior manager, Greythorn Singapore.

Project managers were among many IT positions where the ability to communicate well with senior decision makers put you ahead of other candidates. “As a project manager, the ideal individual needs to have the ability to work within a pragmatic business environment,” says Vijay Pillai, manager, banking & finance, Manpower.

According to Arran Huddleston, general manager, Randstad, key drivers behind an increased demand for staff within finance technology in 2010 included: integration projects as a result of recent M&A activity amongst banks; upgrading of legacy systems; rising consumer expectations for mobile banking; and development of trading platforms to meet more sophisticated investor needs.

Comments (1)

  1. The demand for futures brokerage talent is expected to be red hot in 2011 – kind of perfect storm of its kind. First, Asia is already the biggest futures market in the world, having overtaken Europe 3 years ago, and US last year. Second, the demand for futures talents comes from many economies, notably India and China, and not just from the traditional futures hubs. Third, the buoyant economies in particular in the banking sectors will compete for talents from the futures sector.

    The demand for suitable futures talents in Singapore is expected to be particular keen, with the introduction of new regulatory regime on the licensed representatives.

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