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Foreign banks slow down their hiring in China, but DBS continues to grow

As many foreign banks make major job cuts in Western countries, some have also slowed down or frozen recruitment in China. But DBS seems to be bucking this trend.

Because of turbulent overseas markets, foreign banks in China have been unusually quiet in their expansion in the second half of 2011. HSBC, Bank of East Asia and Standard Chartered, for example, are expanding less aggressively.

Ellen Sun, VP of Kenexa Shanghai, speaking at the Kenexa China Summit 2011, said: “Because of rising costs and profit weakness, European and American banks are now making layoffs overseas, so that will impact the China market.”

But there are exceptions. Citibank is still increasing its network in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and DBS has opened seven new branches in China recently.

DBS China head of human resources, Janice Foo, says: “DBS China’s staff strength has grown 40 per cent from the end of last year to about 1,400 staff currently. We target to boost our staff strength to over 1,700 by year-end. On the talent front, DBS China continues to recruit, adding staff across all functions and particularly in the areas of consumer banking, as well as technology and operations.”

DBS Group chairman Peter Seah shared his thoughts with members of the press last month: “Despite the increasing uncertainties in the global macroeconomic environment, DBS remains committed to building out and strengthening our position as an Asian bank, and we are especially focused on growing our franchise in China. While Asia is not immune to the downturn, we believe that China will continue to reinforce its position as a global economic powerhouse and drive Asia’s prospects for growth.”

In the long term, China remains a talent-short market, despite some banks reigning in recruitment this quarter. “In China, the banking industry is anxious about not finding the right people, affecting the growth and expansion of business,” says Sun.

Financial management, corporate and institutional banking, human resources, and information technology are all short of candidates. “This is because many foreign banks are expanding rapidly in second- and third-tier cities. A large number of sales staff are needed to build relationships with new customers. Corporate-banking customer relationship managers with sales backgrounds, and branch presidents, are the hot jobs,” says Sun.

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