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Get set for a fixed-income talent fight

The People’s Bank of China’s recent announcement allowing RMB held offshore to be invested in its domestic bond market is likely to make foreign financial institutions fight for fixed-income professionals who can help them snap up opportunities in this developing market.

China’s bond market is still at an early stage of development and its interbank bond market, where most government and corporate debts are traded, is dominated by local financial institutions. The reform, therefore, should lure more foreign investors.

“I think most banks and fund houses with substantial exposure in the bond sector should benefit from the implied extra businesses from this reform,” comments Eugene Yao, a Hays banking recruitment specialist.

Stephen He, senior consultant banking and finance, Consult Group, says some foreign investment banks and asset management firms have been recruiting fixed-income professionals for vacancies in underwriting and trading.

China’s onshore corporate bond market did not see material development until three or four years ago, and sophisticated fixed-income products from overseas have little access to the Chinese market. So like other emerging industries, the bond sector suffers from a lack of domestic talent.

Furthermore, due to localised regulations in China, it is difficult to source qualified candidates from overseas. “Chinese returnees from Hong Kong and Singapore are also not well equipped for the job if they don’t know the domestic interbank market well,” says He.

Yao adds: “There are only a handful of treasury/bond professionals in the market and the demand is huge. From a candidate standpoint, I think this is one of the most exciting areas to step into, since the demand is definitely on the rise.”

But He cautions: “The entry barrier for the bond sector is usually higher than for equities, as it requires more professional knowledge and a grasp of macro issues.”

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