If you’re intent on reaching the upper echelons of banking in Hong Kong, becoming managing director is probably your ultimate goal.
But it’s possible to achieve senior status and have a satisfying job as vice president (VP) level – and at that rank you’re also less likely to be culled as banks in Asia axe their most expensive staff.
We’ve looked through public profiles of VPs at banks in Hong Kong who’ve enjoyed successful careers to date. If you’re an analyst or associate in the city, here’s a selection to inspire you.
Zoey Xiaomin Gao
Not all VPs started out as analysts – Gao’s first full-time job (2008 to 2010) was as a management consultant at Oliver Wyman in New York, according to her public profile on LinkedIn. She then moved to Hong Kong with Goldman Sachs, slotting straight into associate level. Citi poached her in 2012 and she’s now a VP in an expanding sector –global RMB products. Gao also has some highly technical qualifications. On top of her Wharton MBA, she has a BMath in Actuarial Science from the University of Waterloo, and she’s also an associate of the Society of Actuaries and a CFA Charterholder.
Moving from insurance to investment banking is challenging/almost impossible – but Sim managed it. Between 2007 and 2011 Sim was working at AXA, primarily in internal corporate development, focused on fields such as M&A restructuring and bancassurance partnerships. He’s now a VP at BNP Paribas, putting his insurance sector knowledge to use in the bank’s financial institutions group (FIG) where he has “responsibility for originating and executing cross-border M&A and ECM transactions”.
Aubouin is a prime example of how staying at one bank but being flexible about your location can pay career dividends. Aubouin, who describes himself on his public profile as a “multi-cultural and multi-sectoral” professional, reached VP last year after nine years at Credit Agricole. He began as an analyst in strategic equity transactions in Hong Kong then became an associate in APAC investment banking before moving back to his native France for an 18-month stint in M&A execution.
As two of the largest foreign banks in Asia, Citi and HSBC are breeding grounds for many of the current VPs in Asia. Macquarie hired Tang from Standard Chartered in January this year as a senior VP in debt advisory. She started her career at Citi in Hong Kong and was the top performing analyst there for three years, according to her public profile. Like most leading VPs, she is fluent in English and Mandarin. And like Gao, she’s a graduate of Wharton – she has a BSc in Economics, Finance and Management.
Want to know how to get from summer analyst to VP at Goldman Sachs in just two years. Just ask Wu. While Wu is an experienced quant, not a young banker, his rise up the ranks is still impressive. He joined Goldman as an intern in 2013 after nearly three years as an applications engineer for software company Simerics and a similar stint as a research assistant at Vanderbilt University. This and his academic pedigree (PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt; MSc, Mathematical and Computational Finance from Oxford) saw him rise to associate in 2013. The following year he became a VP in derivatives analysis and model risk management.
You can still forge a successful VP career at Barclays in Asia, despite recent redundancies at the bank. Ng is a case in point. His coverage area, healthcare, is booming in Greater China and Ng boasts sought-after expertise in both M&A and capital markets. He didn’t get to VP by working his way up the banking ladder, however. Barclays poached him from the consultancy ZS Associates, where he specialised in sales and marketing strategy for global pharmaceutical firms. Ng has a Masters in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Wang provides another example of banks in Hong Kong hiring from consultancies. She worked as a researcher for McKinsey & Co until 2007 and then joined A.T. Kearney as a senior analyst. To break into banking, Wang became a summer Associate in equity research at Credit Suisse in 2010. The move paid off – she was offered a full-time role at the Swiss bank and is now an equity research VP covering China healthcare. Like many top Hong Kong VPs, Wang has an elite overseas Masters degree – hers is an MBA from Columbia Business School.