Equities staff laid off by Bank of East Asia (BEA) in Hong Kong will struggle to find new roles as they enter the job market following a string of similar layoffs at larger firms.
BEA is closing its brokerage business, East Asia Securities, with the loss of 180 jobs or 3.8% of its local workforce. It will continue brokerage services electronically.
The firm faces falling profits and continued calls from activist investor Elliott Management to put itself up for sale.
The timing of the cuts is “particularly bad” for equities salespeople and traders at BEA, says ex-Jefferies trader Warwick Pearmund, now a senior consultant at search firm Bo Le Associates in Hong Kong.
Banks in Hong Kong are investing more in electronic trading platforms and are trying to reduce manpower costs as the Chinese economy cools.
“This means it’s a near perfect storm for the BEA guys now out of work,” says Matthew Hoyle, a former options trader who runs headhunters Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets in Hong Kong.
Former BEA employees will have a hard time competing with job seekers who have recent experience at global banks, says Ed Goh, principal consultant, sales and trading, at recruiters Selby Jennings.
“This batch of BEA-cutback candidates can’t really be compared to those from Western banks like Barclays because their clients, skills sets and company culture are so different,” adds Eunice Ng, director of search firm Avanza Consulting in Hong Kong.
If you’ve been axed by BEA recruiters say you should take the next available job, even if it’s at a lower-tier firm that’s less well known in Hong Kong.
“The top candidates from BEA with successful track records might be considered by smaller mainland banks now going into the Hong Kong market,” says Ng.
“I’d say look at Dah Sing Bank or some of the smaller foreign players in Hong Kong like Gazprombank or VTB,” adds Hoyle.
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