Even as banks hold off hiring until 2012, recruitment has continued unabated at China’s leasing companies.
These firms, or non-banking lenders, typically provide full-service financing services (such as cash flow and treasury management) for small and medium enterprises, which may not otherwise be able to obtain a bank loan. The Financial Times estimated earlier this year that there are at least 150 leasing companies in China and that the sector is growing rapidly.
Edith Zhao, managing director, Shfinder Talent Services, thinks there are at least six foreign leasing firms and 10 to 20 local ones in Shanghai alone.
Zhao therefore sees the sector as a highly attractive prospect for Chinese banking candidates seeking a career change. She says it still has a “huge space to grow”, which means increased job opportunities. “A lot more candidates are now open to working in a leasing firm, especially since a lot of big local banks have set up their own leasing companies, for instance ICBC Leasing or Minsheng Leasing.”
Likewise, leasing companies are open to employing banking professionals. Those who can successfully make the crossover include candidates from credit risk, treasury, and relationship management.
Why leasing makes sense
There are obvious benefits to taking on such a career. The financial rewards are pretty lucrative. Zhao says leasing firms can offer candidates a salary increase of 30 per cent or more. It’s also a solid platform to build up experience because leasing companies focus on several industries, such as technology, healthcare, electronics and printing.
Moving into a leasing firm doesn’t mean kissing your banking career goodbye either. Zhao says: “From my point of view, it’s not hard to move back into banking, if you choose to do so later, because such candidates typically have broad industry knowledge and are experienced at working closely with clients.”
Nevertheless, such a career may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Zhao points out: “Leasing companies tend to be more sales- or target-oriented compared with traditional banking.”