The next few months will be a perilous time for those working at investment banks in Hong Kong.
As we reported last month, banks are still scrutinising the sizes of their front-office teams in Hong Kong and more job cuts are on the cards before bonuses are paid in the first quarter.
This follows redundancies already announced in Hong Kong investment banking, most recently at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
So at which banks are jobs most secure?
Headhunters we spoke to identified J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse as cutting (comparatively) few investment banking jobs in Hong Kong. “I’ve not had many CVs from these two firms,” says one.
The banks are also the highest placed foreign institutions in a new Dealogic ex-Japan Asia Pacific ranking for overall investment banking revenue in the first nine months of the year (see table below).
J.P. Morgan took third spot for the same period last year and is currently in fourth position.
Credit Suisse has enjoyed a sizable rise up the charts – from eighth in 2015 to third now.
Credit Suisse’s relatively strong performance in Asia comes as it sheds investment bankers in London and restructures its business globally ahead of third quarter results which are expected to be challenging.
Two weeks ago, however, CEO Tidjane Thiam made positive noises about the firm’s Asian investment bank, noting its involvement in some of the largest regional deals this year, including China National Chemical Corp’s acquisition of Swiss pesticide firm Syngenta.
League tables are not always a good barometer of job security, though. Headhunters in Hong Kong do not rule out the possibility of job cuts at Morgan Stanley and Citi, both of which make the top-10 for Asia IB revenue.
Western investment banks are being undercut by Chinese firms who charge lower fees to expansionist mainland clients. Goldman Sachs found itself overstaffed in Asia for this reason, and cut nearly 100 bankers in the region last month.
Goldman has also tumbled from fifth to ninth position year-on-year for IB revenues, while some Chinese firms – notably China Securities, GF Securities and Guotai Junan Securities – have made huge gains.
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