Even as firms lay off staff, there are still signs of life in the financial recruitment landscape. Yuan trading for instance is seeing some growth. Recruiters say bankers with yuan experience are sought after, especially in Hong Kong, Shanghai and London, reports the South China Morning Post. Already RBS, HSBC, ANZ and Standard Chartered have started to fatten up their yuan operation teams.
And it’s not just Western firms. Chinese banks (especially the big four) are also on the hunt for strong RMB-enabled bankers based in Hong Kong. Paul Siu, managing director, Global Associates, says: “Anything yuan is hot now, whether it’s trading, corporate banking or wealth management. There’s still hiring going on in this space, even if volumes aren’t as large as last year.”
There is hope
Hong Kong traders who have been made redundant in the slew of lay-offs over the last couple of months may see a re-employment lifeline here. “Yes, moving into yuan trading is technically possible – the skills sets are transferable so long as you’ve had trading experience, and most traders in Hong Kong would have had traded in RMB products over the last few years anyway. While having Mandarin language skills are important, relationships and connections also matter,” says Sis.
He has seen interest from retrenched candidates and knows of a handful of successful placements so far.
But remember, it’s not your market
That said, while RMB expertise may continue to be in demand, candidates have to be realistic – massive pay increases are unlikely. “I don’t think candidates can ask for a huge premium. If the talent market isn’t in short supply, firms won’t pay excessively; it’s an employer’s market now.”
This may be an especially bitter pill for bankers who have previously worked at swanky bulge brackets. Siu advises: “Forget personal pride, some of these firms may be Hong Kong or Chinese firms that won’t pay as well – a pay cut of as much as 30 per cent may be possible, so job seekers need to understand that.”
Another reality check: candidates need to prep themselves if they indeed shift from Western to mainland firms because management styles, product platforms and organisational structures are bound to be vastly different.