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Chinese banks: rankings rise helps recruitment

Chinese banks now dominate a global list of the most highly valued financial institutions. Their growing size and comparative stability is making them increasingly attractive to candidates, both locals and those looking to move from Hong Kong.

China Merchants Bank, China Citic, ICBC and China Construction Bank top the Bloomberg table of banks’ share prices as a multiple of their book values. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan languish at 22nd and 31st respectively.

The rapid rise of mainland institutions in this and other international rankings – especially since the onset of the global financial crisis – is adding to their ability to attract talent.

“Candidates feel that Chinese banks are now well established and attractive. They have a larger domestic market share than the Western banks, a wider range of products, and their sheer size makes them attractive to those considering how to build their careers,” says Brodie McDougall, manager, Michael Page Finance.

The new book-value ratings will strike a particular chord with job seekers who are concerned about profitability and stability. “Candidates in China today are becoming more focused on the fundamentals of the business they are entering, not just on their pay,” adds McDougall.

Chinese banks are usually better connected into local clients than their Western counterparts. And their strong domestic networks often allow them to recruit directly.

Moreover, because investment banking in China is still developing, building up your career over the next few years could give you real decision-making influence in the future when the IB market is more mature, says Eunice Ng, director, Avanza Consulting.

Attracting Hong Kong talent is getting easier because of a shrinking mid-to-senior-level pay gap between HK and Shanghai/Beijing, comments Cherol Cheuk, director of banking at Hudson.

“And although tax rate may be double in China when compare to HK, at the same time the lower cost of living should balance out some of this,” she adds.

For most front-office roles, foreign-graduated candidates with strong local networks are the most sought after. They key choice these face is whether to work for a domestic or an international bank. The locals are mounting a strong effort for their affections.

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