Global banks are being pushed down revenue league tables in China by their local competitors.
But those with a more established mainland presence are still hiring. UBS needs 600 staff over the next five years and HSBC has big expansion plans in the Pearl River Delta, for example.
Which kind of candidates do foreign banks want to hire in China? Here’s a selection.
“Establishing a debt capital markets team is a focus within the major foreign banks in China,” says Jackie Wang, associate director of financial services at recruiters Michael Page. “This is because a number of foreign companies are slated to issue bonds in the China market, which will require support from the global banks here. DCM candidates who are familiar with foreign corporates as well as the Chinese market are highly sought after.”
2. Credit risk
If you have credit-risk experience analysing (or even working in) large Chinese corporations, global banks want to hear from you. “Banks need people with about five to eight years’ experience as well as knowledge of the macro economy,” says Wang. “These candidates are increasingly in demand as more Chinese companies expand locally or go abroad for IPOs or mergers. Given the complexity of most mainland firms – they have many subsidiaries and diversified businesses, for example – banks are hiring more credit risk staff to conduct risk diligence on their clients.”
3. Corporate banking
Corporate banking relationship managers (RMs) serving global conglomerates were until recently in high demand, but the focus of RM recruitment has now shifted. “Multi-nationals aren’t investing in China as much, but large local companies and Chinese state-owned enterprises are generally booming, so there’s rapidly growing demand for RMs with clients in these sectors,” says Alan Li, manager of banking and financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley. VP to director-level RMs are most sought after, and pay rises for joining a new bank can be as high as 50%, he adds.
4. Internet finance
As the larger online finance companies in China expand their market share, they are hiring senior bankers from foreign firms. Dianrong.com, for example, poached from Standard Chartered and HSBC earlier this year and now has a 2,000-strong salesforce. “We’ve seen a sharp rise in internet finance hiring,” says Allen Wang, associate director of financial services at recruiters Lloyd Morgan Executive. “Risk management modelling and analysis, for example, is the core of internet finance – so there’s huge demand for these people. They normally get 10% to 40% average pay increments when they move into this industry, with the added bonus of stock options.”
5. Private banking
Led by UBS and Credit Suisse, private banks are trying to grow their onshore teams in China. “Private banks want to offer a range of wealth products to families and business owners and link them to overseas equity, fixed income, derivatives, and real estate markets,” says Jason Tan, a partner at search firm Carlson Harriet in Shanghai. “But talent is in short supply – you must have in-depth client relationships and at least 10 years’ experience. This is a relatively new sector in China and RMs working in local banks are reluctant to move to foreign ones because their English is often not good enough and they can’t cope with the product diversity.”
6. Operational risk
HSBC, Citi and Standard Chartered are all hiring in operational risk, says Tan. But such is the talent shortage that foreign banks are also retraining operations staff to fill risk roles and poaching from the Big Four. “Despite the economic downturn and banks’ poor China revenues, salary increments for operational risk professionals are about 35% on average,” he adds.
7. NPL management
As the Chinese economy slows, the non-performing Loan (NPL) ratio of commercial banks rose to 1.81% last month, up 31 basis points year-on-year. “Because of this there’s now more demand for NPL managers or bankers with good knowledge of asset-backed securities products,” says Simon Lance, regional director of recruitment agency Hays.
8. Anti-money laundering
China is following the rest of the world and experiencing a surge in AML recruitment, says Stephen He, a partner at recruiters Falcon Talent. “And now even tougher AML requirements are on the way, especially with the Financial Action Task Force evaluation of China, and China’s ongoing anti-corruption crackdown. Most banks find it challenging to hire in this area – even Bank of China would rather hire over 200 management trainees in AML than try to get external candidates.”