Barclays has just hired 2,600 people in Asia. But here’s the catch

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Barclays has just hired 2,600 people in Asia. But here’s the catch

Barclays has been synonymous with retrenchment rather than recruitment in Asia over the past few years. In 2015, it cut Asian equities jobs, and the following year it sold its Asian wealth unit to Bank of Singapore, and closed offices in second-tier markets like Indonesia and Malaysia.

It may come as a surprise, therefore, that Barclays has recently been adding people in big numbers in Asia, according to its 2018 financial results. The British bank’s APAC headcount stood at 19,800 at the end of 2018, up by 2,600 people from a year previously. This 15% rise is far higher than the workforce increase in the UK (2.5%) or the Americas (2%) over the same period.  

But don’t get too excited about all this hiring if you’re based in Hong Kong or Singapore. The cities may be two of the four Asian markets that Barclays still operates in (Japan and India are the others), but they aren’t the main locations for the new roles. Much of Barclays’ expansion has been in Pune in India, which will soon become one of its three global technology and operations hubs, and will eventually house 8,800 staff, says a spokesperson for the bank. Barclays leased more than 1m sq ft of space there last year and Pune will be its largest office outside the UK by 2020.

The Asian headcount growth also reflects the fact that Barclays is “bringing more people in house rather than using contractors, particularly in technology roles in order to better grow and retain our own talent”, says the bank’s spokesperson.

Technology recruiters in Hong Kong and Singapore, however, say IT hiring at Barclays (contractor conversions included) is subdued in their cities. “I met a senior guy in IT at Barclays last month and he said there’s no hiring in IT this year, apart from backfilling people who leave,” says a recruiter in Hong Kong who asked not to be named.

“There isn’t much hiring going on at Barclays in Hong Kong – we’re actually seeing people coming out of there as the business is fairly stagnant,” says another senior tech recruiter, who also chose to remain anonymous because of client confidentiality.

Hiring is flat in Singapore, says a tech recruiter there, adding that he often tries to poach candidates from Barclays’ local tech team, which has reduced in size over the past few years as roles have been offshored to India. “Many IT professionals are looking to get out of Barclays Singapore or are waiting to get retrenched so they get a severance package,” he says.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

Image credit: Alphotographic, Getty

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