If you want a graduate job in Hong Kong banking starting this autumn, you are probably out of luck. As is the norm, most banks closed applications for their 2020 analyst cohorts late last year. Moreover, there are not many ad hoc grad vacancies in the finance sector this year, because banks’ hiring budgets have been squeezed by the impact of Covid-19.
At HSBC, though, there is still a way you can apply now for an entry-level job with a traditional September start date. But there are two caveats: you will be working for HSBC’s Hang Seng unit, and your role will last for only six months.
Hang Seng is currently hiring 2020 graduates from local universities into its commercial banking and wealth and personal banking businesses, under the HKMA’s Banking Talent Programme, which aims to build a “pipeline” of talent for the finance sector. While the initiative involves more than 40 other firms, many of them – including Standard Chartered, UBS, BNP Paribas, and HSBC itself (rather than its HS subsidiary) – have closed the door on applications. The advertisement for Hang Seng’s programme will remain on HSBC’s careers site until the end of this month, and the job runs from 1 September 2020 to 28 February 2021.
If you join the commercial banking business at Hang Seng, you will work in either the relationship management or product/functions team. In the former, you will provide support to relationship managers and services to corporate customers, as well as perform financial analysis and collect market intelligence. In the latter, you will help prepare market updates and presentations, and assist in streamlining procedures for operational effectiveness, according to HSBC’s career site.
Meanwhile, a six-month grad job on the wealth and personal banking side at Hang Seng will see you participate in project planning activities, progress tracking, budget monitoring and quality management. Preparing project documents, management reports, quality procedures and project plans by adopting the bank’s “project methodologies and agile ways of working” is also required. Good analytical, communication and interpersonal skills are a must in both departments, as is proficiency in English and Chinese.
Taking a six-month contract may well lead to a permanent job at Hang Seng or its parent company at the end of your tenure, say recruiters in Hong Kong. At the very least, it will make you more attractive to other banks when the Hang Seng job ends next February, just in time for the post-bonus busy season for hiring. As well as giving you new skills from your day job, the programme will provide you with training, both in-house and externally by HKMA and HKIB.
A few other firms do not appear to have closed applications for HKMA’s Banking Talent Programme, at least according to their careers websites. These include DBS, Citi, Airstar Bank, Alipay, Bank of Communications, MUFG, and Natixis.
The interview and selection process for the HKMA programme takes place from late June to August, depending on the firm. All employers follow the same September-to-February period for employing successful candidates.