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HSBC expected to boost hiring in China this year

For global banking giant HSBC, 2010 has started off with a bang in China. Its bold moves so far this year include the symbolic relocation in January of chief executive Michael Geoghegan from London to Hong Kong.

The firm is also reportedly on the lookout to buy a majority stake in one of China’s big three state-owned lenders – ICBC, Bank of China, or China Construction Bank.

And HSBC is expected to boost its overall headcount in China over the next 12 months, according to PRC-based recruiters.

“The general feeling I have is there is a conservative optimism about what is happening in China, and HSBC shares that,” says Brodie McDougall, regional manager for China at Michael Page.

Jason Tan, manager for banking at Robert Walters, does not see an immediate link between Geoghegan’s relocation and HSBC’s hiring in China. Any staffing increases this year are likely to be inline with the bank’s existing strategies, he adds.

McDougall believes HSBC will focus on mid to senior-level back-office roles, especially in sectors such as treasury, compliance and product control. The bank needs to replenish senior staff poached by rivals last year, comments Tan.

The firm’s wholesale and corporate banking divisions are expected to expand in China as the rest of the world recovers from the global recession and Chinese exports to developed markets return.

Who is the ideal candidate in these sectors? “Basically they need to find someone who is experienced, can lead a big team and is able to bridge the gap between management and junior staff,” says Tan.

A dearth of talent means HSBC is sourcing staff from overseas-Chinese talent pools as well as from locals ones.

HSBC declined to offer updated comment on its recruitment plans, but the bank stated in August last year that it plans to add at least 10 more branches in China.

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