China’ asset management has been growing exponentially in recent years; the total amount of mutual funds and mandates reached 6.7 trillion RMB (about US$1.1 trillion) at the end of 2014. That is 61% up on a year earlier.
Jobs are growing too, but so is competition for them. This is how to make your resume stand out.
1. Track record is crucial, but it has to do with China
China’s market has its own unique characteristics. There’s no guarantee you can be successful in China’s market even if you’ve been successful elsewhere. UK’s star fund manager Anthony Bolton is the best example. One of the most revered star fund managers in UK, he went into China market in 2010 only to admit he got it wrong four years later. He then pulled out.
So, you certainly should have a good track record of continuous achievements on your CV, but “every achievement has to be relevant to the China market,” says Rio Goh, China country head for recruiters Morgan McKinley.
2. You have seen (a few) ups and downs
Asset management is a relatively new thing in China, both as a concept and as a sector. As a result, those in the industry tend to be younger than their Western counterparts. The average age of China’s fund managers is under 35. By comparison, the average age of UK fund managers was found to be between 42 and 45 just a few years ago.
In China, being young could well mean that you’ve not experienced a full cycle of bull and bear markets. But this is exactly what employers are looking for. As Sarah Xiao, founder of CareerLead, a Beijing-based executive search firm in the financial services industry points out: “a stable performance throughout a complete bull-bear cycle” is almost a must on an impressive CV.
3. You have launched funds and they rank high
This might sound obvious, but experience is key. It’s hard for investors to put huge sums of money into a pair of new hands that has not launched and managed a fund in reality. Given that China’s market is so unique, relevant experience becomes more crucial.
“It’s the most relevant point,” says Goh of Morgan McKinley. In your CV, “highlight which China and offshore funds you have launched as an asset management professional as well as the results of these funds compared to competitor funds,” he suggests.
4. You started out in research
A large chunk of the asset management is about research, be it macroeconomic, industry or individual company. Whether or not you have good and solid research experience could be a make-or-break point on a CV, says to Xiao of CareerLead.
5. Study at overseas top schools is an advantage
Asset management firms yearn for young, bright graduates from top schools. A perfect academic background, in Xiao’s view, is an undergraduate degree from one of China’s top universities such as Peking University or Tsinghua University, enhanced by a graduate degree from a top school overseas, like an Ivy League school from the US.
6. But overseas experience is not
It used to be that a few years’ overseas experience could be a sure way leading to higher salaries and more auspicious titles, but it’s no longer the case. Many Chinese finance professionals who have lived and worked in the West are struggling to adapt to the unique Chinese business world once they are back. And not many of them have adapted well. Those who are currently overseas but think of returning may take the heed from Goh of Morgan McKinley: “Overseas experience would still be relevant, but it is discounted.”