Western banks in Hong Kong have become better known for firing rather than hiring in 2016. The year has so far been bookended by big front-office job cuts at Barclays (in early January) and Goldman Sachs (in late September).
But global banks do have vacancies in Hong Kong this quarter, even if hiring is quiet overall. Citi, HSBC, J.P. Morgan and Standard Chartered all have more than 50 jobs going. Which functions are they recruiting in?
To find out we trawled through the Hong Kong careers websites of 12 major US and European banks and allocated their advertised roles into the nine broad sectors in the table below.
We then converted these job categories into a percentage of each bank’s overall Hong Kong vacancies (general management, contract, shared services and administrative positions were excluded from the total).
As you might expect, ‘risk, compliance and legal’ is the job group with the most open roles, according to the banks’ careers site.
But the extent of the middle-office dominance of Hong Kong banking jobs is still surprising – across all firms more than a third (35%) of current opportunities are governance-related.
And the percentages aren’t only high at HSBC and Standard Chartered – two Asia-focused firms which have been building large local risk and compliance teams for several years – BAML (55%) and Deutsche (50%) top the table in this function.
The figures in our table also suggest that while many global banks continue to offshore support jobs away from Hong Kong into lower-cost markets, they are still recruiting in their back offices.
Operations roles make up 16% of all positions across the 12 banks, and almost half of those at Stan Chart. Banks still need some of their back-office roles – in particular managerial ones and those dealing with local regulators – to be on the ground in Hong Kong.
In the front-office, jobs within Hong Kong’s expanding wealth management sector account for 10% of all vacancies.
By contrast, investment banking and capital markets can only muster 2%. Growing competition from Chinese banks and the seasonal third-quarter decline in IBD hiring is pushing down recruitment rates.
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