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Meet the two Hong Kong banks that still pay guaranteed bonuses

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They may not quite be household names in Hong Kong, but China Securities and GF Securities are both now top-10 players in Asian investment banking.

And the two mainland firms are also prepared to pay top dollar to hire Hong Kong-based bankers before bonus season kicks in and there’s more competition for talent.

China Securities and GF rank second and tenth respectively for APAC investment banking income in the first nine months of 2016,, according to Dealogic. And they take positions two and four for China revenue.

Unlike Western banks in Hong Kong – which continue to trim directors and MDs – China and GF Securities are still offering guaranteed bonuses this quarter to compensate senior candidates for the bonuses they’re giving up at their current firms.

“These securities houses will often look to buy out your bonus,” says a Hong Kong investment banking headhunter who asked not to be named. “And they’re also doing it more often than the more established Chinese banks in Hong Kong like CITIC.”

“GF and China Securities are paying guarantees for senior bankers and for roles they’ve been unable to fill for a period of time,” adds Jairaj Singh, a manager at recruiters Connected Group in Hong Kong and a former ANZ analyst.

There’s a catch, however, if you’re moving from a global investment bank into one of these firms. “Their guarantees are often geared at offsetting the reduction in base salary that you’re expected to take,” says Singh.

As we reported earlier this year, Chinese banks pay comparatively low base salaries to their investment bankers. But they aren’t shackled by Western bonus regulations, and are using bonuses – guaranteed and otherwise – to attract front-office talent.

“The trouble is that if you move to a Chinese bank it’s hard to get back into a global one – it could be your last major career move in the industry,” says the anonymous headhunter. “You get there, get your bonus, but then you realise that the platform is very different to what you’re used to.”

Image credit: kicia_papuga, Getty

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