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A tale of two cities: Shenzhen and Tianjin boost their back offices

Tianjin and Shenzhen have recently become important back-office locations as foreign banks expand in China.

Firms such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, RBS and DBS are recruiting more back-office staff in both locations, mainly at junior to middle level.

But the two cities have found themselves in favour for different reasons.

“Tianjin is pushing its Binhai New Area to become a regional financial centre and the government provides favourable policies to attract financial intuitions. And in the meantime, compensation levels are comparatively lower than first-tier cities,” explains George Wang, general manager of Randstad China.

Shenzhen’s key advantage is being close to Hong Kong, says Gary Lai, associate director, banking and commerce, Robert Walters China. “Banks can draw from a large pool of financial talents in Hong Kong,” he adds.

Another reason for Shenzhen’s success is that many Hong Kong businesses run manufacturing and trading operations there, so they need local financial services.

Lai says settlement, financial reporting and management reporting jobs are in demand in both Tianjin and Shenzhen. Compliance managers are also sought after, adds Wang.

To be qualified for these jobs, candidates should demonstrate relevant professional experience and have a bachelor’s degree. “English proficiency is desirable, but not as crucial as when you apply for the same positions in Beijing or Shanghai,” says Lai.

He adds: “Foreign banks tend to recruit from other foreign banks as the management style and system of local banks is quite different. If they can’t find suitable candidates from competitors, they might resort to other industries, such as Big Four auditing firms.”

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