Banks in Hong Kong don’t just lose staff to technology companies – sometimes they hire from them. Standard Chartered has recruited Gabriel Lo, a senior team head from PayPal, as its new director of digital usage and experience in Hong Kong.
Lo was most recently head of integration for Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan at PayPal, according to his public profile. He joined the US firm in Hong Kong in 2010 as an integration manager, before being promoted in 2013.
Despite his senior rank at Stan Chart, this is Lo’s first job at a bank. He spent the first five years of his career at Hewlett-Packard and Funmobile Technology, according to his profile.
Lo’s hiring runs counter to a two-year trend that has seen both bankers and technologists leave banks in Hong Kong to join large tech firms, including mainland players such as Alibaba and Tencent.
But it chimes with banks’ increasing desire to staff their digital teams with both outsiders and experienced hands. “The skills we need are primarily digital ones. In each team we look to have a balance of people with and without prior banking experience,” Tamara van den Ban, head of digital products for Asia Pacific at HSBC, told us last week.
“Banks in Hong Kong love to hire people who’ve worked for a Silicon Valley-type firm, where they’ve lived and breathed technology,” says Vince Natteri, managing director of IT recruiters Pinpoint Asia.
The more banks hire candidates from tech firms, the easier it will become to attract more of their kind, says Natteri. “It’s a way for banks to tell the world that they also have a ‘cool’ culture.”
Money helps as well. In Hong Kong, banks typically pay 15% to 20% higher base salaries than tech firms do for similar jobs, says Natteri.
Lo is not the only major digital hire that Stan Chart has made recently. As we reported last week, the bank has just taken on Pedro Sousa Cardoso as global head of digital commerce, based in Singapore.
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