Internship, traineeship, junior investment banking job at a global firm – it’s the typical path that hundreds of Hong Kong students aspire to.
But you don’t need to follow career convention to ultimately achieve success in the city’s finance sector.
We looked through publicly available profiles to find young Hong Kong professionals who’ve made interesting career changes within financial services.
Law graduate Hui began his banking career as a programme analyst in the legal department of Goldman Sachs in 2009 before making two interesting career changes – firstly into the markets solutions group, and secondly into private wealth management. The lawyer-turned-private-banker joined Morgan Stanley in January this year as a vice president, according to his profile.
You get your first job at an investment bank because fund managers don’t hire many graduates – then you move to the buy-side after getting some IB experience. Zhou took the opposite of this traditional career path. He spent two and a half years at private equity firm Squadron Capital Advisors before becoming an associate at Blackstone in Hong Kong, according to his LinkedIn profile. In May last year, however, he went to the sell-side, joining Goldman Sachs as a senior associate in its financial institutions group (FIG) team.
It’s becoming increasingly possible to move between different types of banks in Hong Kong and Zhou’s career is testimony to this. In 2013 he left his role as an M&A analyst at Crédit Agricole to become an M&A associate at ICBC, where he clocked up the kind of cross-border experience that banks in Hong Kong and China are now clamouring for. In 2014 Crédit Agricole hired him back, but a year later Zhou decided to add boutique experience to his CV by joining Rothschild.
Private equity funds may traditionally hire from investment banks, but they occasionally also recruit from…the Big Four. Chan is a case in point – she built her early career via a three-year stint at KMPG, most recently at the firm’s transactions and restructuring advisory unit. The buy-side came calling in 2012 when Chan joined MVision Private Equity Advisers. She’s now progressed to become an associate at Evercore's private funds group.
It’s common enough for disgruntled Asian bankers to quit the sector and become recruiters – but Wong made the move the other way around. In 2013 she worked for Career International, an Asia-focused recruitment agency, before joining market research firm GfK as an institutional sales associate. Last year, however, she moved to DBS Asia Capital in Hong Kong – an investment banking offshoot of the Singaporean firm – where she now “supports the origination and execution of corporate finance and equity capital markets transactions”.
Is it possible to step into a client-facing role in private banking having forged your early career behind the scenes in investment-focused roles? Yes in Tsao’s case. By 2013 she had proved herself as a technical expert, most recently at ANZ where she provided analysis, research and portfolio-management advisory. On the back of these skills Citi hired her as a fully-fledged private banker – and she’s now reached AVP level at the US bank.
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