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Asian banking jobs in 2017: 10 big trends to watch out for

Asian banking jobs 2017

For many banking professionals in both Singapore and Hong Kong – especially those looking for new jobs – 2016 was largely a year to forget.

What does 2017 have in store if you’re a job seeker in Asian finance? Recruiters give us their top tips.

1. Candidates consider all sorts of Chinese firms

Candidates leaving Western banks in Hong Kong would until recently only consider working for big-brand mainland firms like CITIC. In 2017 they will be forced to consider other options as more unemployed bankers continue to search for new jobs. As we reported last month, China Securities and GF Securities are hiring in Hong Kong and paying guaranteed bonuses. “There’s also a marked increase in small Chinese private equity firms hiring,” says Adam Jeffes, associate director of financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley. “There may be a reduction in basic pay at these organisations, but a job is a job.”

2. In-house is hot

Chinese companies, particularly those in technology, won’t lose their appetite for Hong Kong bankers in 2017. “I’m working on some M&A roles for banks, but candidates are increasingly telling me they’re not interested in leaving one IB to join another to do the same role,” says Damian Babis, managing director of recruiters Capital People in Hong Kong. “Those who stay on the phone long enough often say ‘call me if you have any in-house corporate business development positions’. Companies are realising that in-house teams can be more effective for the bulk of their M&A work.”

3. And so is electronic trading

“There’s significant growth across the electronic trading area in Asia, with solid demand for quantitative eFX specialists across the sell-side, buy-side, vendors and market makers,” says Nick Wells, managing partner of headhunters NewtonCHASE. “FX is an expanding space in Asian markets and there’s expansion in analytics, trading, portfolio management, execution, trading technology and business development.”

4. A new skill shortage in compliance

There’s a new talent shortage within Asian compliance: people with expertise in the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) information-exchange regulation. “There’s high demand for specialised tax, project management, and regulatory compliance professionals for CRS implementation,” says Ivan Tang, a former Societe Generale banker, now managing partner at recruiters Tangspac Consulting in Singapore. “Since CRS is itself a subject of changing regulations and may undergo change, there will be continuous demand in this area even after most banks in Singapore go live with CRS this month.”

5. Look to the cloud

Banks in Hong Kong are hiring fewer database administrator and other “standalone infrastructure roles”, says Vince Natteri, managing director of Hong Kong recruiters Pinpoint Asia. “Instead banks are moving their tech into the cloud. So if you’re a banking tech infrastructure candidate, you’re better off learning AWS, Google Cloud Platform or other cloud technologies to hone your skills for the future.”

6. Work in market risk? Move to Hong Kong

“There’s an expectation that turbulent market conditions will continue into 2017, so there will be a higher demand for market risk specialists in volatile areas such as the currency and commodity markets,” says Matthew Dorrell, director of banking and finance at recruiters The Edge Partnership. “This will add to the ongoing talent shortage in Hong Kong and banks will have to offer higher salaries and look overseas to the UK and Singapore for candidates.”

7. Accountants wanted

“The banking industry in Asia is expected to be more regulated in 2017 and banks will need to ensure that their balance sheets and regulatory reporting capabilities are improved,” says Dorrell. “Technical accountants who are well versed in accounting policy and regulatory reporting will be in higher demand this year. This again means banks will need to look overseas and increase pay.”

8. Quitting to take contracts

With offshoring continuing to affect Singapore and Hong Kong, more technology and finance professionals may move to contract roles if they think their current jobs are at risk. “Compared to a year ago, there are more candidates leaving their permanent jobs to take a contract position. The main attraction is getting a better brand name and new skills on their CVs,” says Komal Mehta, a partner at recruitment agency KS International in Singapore.

9. Back-office people are managing to move

The elite performers among Asia’s back-office ranks will increasingly be drafted into risk and compliance functions this year. “They’re seen as relevant candidates due to their familiarity with day-to-day operations, so they supplement existing governance staff who tend to take a ‘macro-monitor’ perspective,” says Pan Zaixian general manager of recruiters Kerry Consulting in Singapore. “However, they must also come with a risk and controls-driven mindset or they won’t be effective in this new job scope.”

10. SG banks look solid

Large local headcount reductions at the likes of ANZ, Barclays and Deutsche Bank mean candidates are “gravitating towards banks with continued strong Singapore operations”, says Gary Lai, Southeast Asia managing director at recruiters Charterhouse Partnership. These include the three local banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – and Standard Chartered, which remains a large recruiter in Singapore despite recent cuts to its management ranks. Job seekers are also showing a preference for Citi, J.P. Morgan and HSBC, adds Lai.

Image credit: mnachphoto, Getty

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