Chinese banks now dominate Hong Kong capital markets hiring

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Chinese banks Hong Kong

Chinese banks already dominate equity capital markets hiring in Hong Kong. Now they’re ramping up their recruitment in debt capital markets, too.

“Compared with last year, I’m seeing an increase in requirements for DCM candidates in Hong Kong, with Chinese Banks doing the majority of the hiring here,” says Sandeep Mohanan, manager of front-office financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley.

There’s a catch, however. Chinese banks in Hong Kong are recruiting mainly at associate to junior vice president level – “senior bankers are still in low demand”, says Mohanan.

CITIC Securities, China Construction Bank, China Securities, CICC, ICBC, Haitong Securities, Bank of China, and Guotai Junan are looking for DCM staff, say headhunters. The firms all feature in the top-10 banks for local currency Asian DCM so far this year, according to Dealogic.

Junior DCM execution teams at Chinese Banks are now being bulked up “mainly to cope with an extremely high workload”, adds Ed Goh, principal consultant in sales and trading at recruiters Selby Jennings in Hong Kong.

Mainland banks are taking advantage of debt-fuelled overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies and the increased use of bonds issued in the RMB currency.

“Headcount growth in Hong Kong among established Western banks has remained tepid relative to that of their Chinese counterparts,” says Goh. “There are now a larger number of Chinese houses in Hong Kong who have been able to get in on DCM mandates.”

“Global banks have mainly just been replacing people who leave, while Chinese banks continue to grow in size on the back of a strong pipeline of deals. They’re also building sales and distribution teams in Hong Kong or are planning to hire credit traders to market make secondary flows,” adds Goh.

Can you move from an international bank to a Chinese one in DCM? Not often.

“Most of the recent DCM hires have been cannibalistic in nature, with Chinese banks preferring to recruit from fellow competitors because cultural fit, familiarity with platforms, and the ability to hit the ground running are extremely important to them,” says Goh.

Image credit: Brendan Hunter, Getty

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