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The cautious state of the recruitment market in China

Not in control of his job

Not in control of his job

Hiring sentiment is cautious across the banking and financial services sector in mainland China, but some roles remain in demand.

Foreign banks are more conservative in adding new headcount this year, with at least 20 per cent fewer new job openings compared with a year ago, says Daisy Chen, manager, banking and financial services, Robert Walters Shanghai. Retail banking is still growing more steadily than corporate banking. And recruitment is expanding more quickly in tier-two and tier-three cities rather than in Shanghai and Beijing.

Stephen He, manager of banking and financial services, Kelly Services, comments: “Usually March and April are seasons to find out more openings, but this year it’s very limited. Most of our roles are in operations, as the cost is lower.”

But not all the market is moribund. “Hiring is still focussed on sales-related positions, such as relationship managers, product sales and investment consultants,” says Chen.

Investment banks are recruiting product and client relationship roles as they continue to expand. Chen says they are looking for experienced people who can source deals and raise funds. They prefer to headhunt from local or joint-venture securities houses, and investment banks who have laid off staff during the eurozone crisis.

“The ideal profile is usually well-educated overseas returnees who have solid client resources and are good at raising funds and sourcing deals. They also need to have strong exposure to both IPO and M&A projects in recent years,” adds Chen.  

Professionals with Chinese language skills are highly sought after, even in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chen says: “Mandarin speaking is becoming a pre-requisite for foreigners/expatriates looking to work in Mainland China, especially for client-facing roles, as they need to communicate with local corporations. It’s mostly needed for mid-level positions because Mandarin skills are not a prerequisite for senior roles.”

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