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Want to nab a front-office role on the mainland? Here’s what you really need to know

Preparation is everything when it comes to interviews- front-office roles aren’t an exception. We ask the experts how you can impress would-be employers.

Potential questions

Cherol Cheuk, general manager of Hudson Shanghai, says front-office candidates may be expected to list down important contacts from their network- including government officials or senior bankers.

Job seekers can expect to be quizzed on their business development skills, how they win over clients, the sort of specific strategies used, their KPIs and targets. The candidate may also be called on to provide suggestions on how to improve the bank’s standing in the market against its competitors, she adds.

Other client-focused interview questions could look into the make-up of the candidates’ current client base and the number of clients who are likely to follow them to their new company, adds Vivian Ng, managing director, Morgan McKinley.

Ng says:”Did they acquire these clients by themselves or did they inherit a portfolio? What was their revenue like for the past two to three years and their year-to-date revenue and pipeline? If they are managing a team, are they in a pure sales management role or do they also carry a personal target? What is the growth potential in the candidate’s coverage area?” In short, come prepared to be challenged on your business plan.

Research on the firm

Apart from understanding their respective abilities, candidates need to ensure they do their due diligence on the particular firm. This could mean looking into the bank’s product lines, its strengths and weaknesses and the firm’s performance or even drawing product comparisons with other firms, says Cheuk.

Ng points out that candidates also need to be familiarise themselves with the latest developments at the firm and its competitors. Reading up on the background of the interviewer can also be helpful, she adds.

And here’s what you should ask

It’s not a one-way street during the interview of course, job seekers should ask the interviewer questions especially if they want to exhibit a certain degree of interest. Questions could be about the expectations of the particular role, the firm’s expansion plans or its strategy on new products, suggests Cheuk.

Ng says: “Candidates should ask thought-provoking and smart questions which show that they are visualising themselves in the role rather than just focusing on working hours and compensation.”

Perennially wanted

In China, front-office roles are “always in demand, even in bad times, candidates just need to make sure they are good enough and can bring in new clients and incremental revenue to the bank,” says Cheuk.

Ng agrees: “It is an area that banks are still hiring quite aggressively for. This is across all cities in China, not just restricted to only tier-one cities. Mainland banks generally tend to promote internally and have fewer external hires for mid-to-senior level roles.”

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