If you’re an MBA graduate or work at a Big Four accounting firm, BNP Paribas in Asia could be the bank to apply to. As reported yesterday, the French firm plans to hire 1,300 people in Asia over the next three years, but it faces an industry-wide talent shortage in two of the functions it’s trying to grow: trade finance and cash management.
While BNP did not respond to questions about how many people it needs in these two sectors, a Singapore recruiter, who asked not to be named because BNP is a client, said recruitment will be “in bulk and therefore focused at the junior and mid level." This leaves the door open to financial professionals who want to nab their first role at a bank, he adds.
“For associate positions and the like, it’s hard to hire people in Asia with trade-finance or cash-management experience," said Farida Charania, chief executive of Singapore search firm Nastrac. "There just aren’t many of them available because it’s a solid revenue stream for many banks, with few layoffs.” Banks find it easier to hire accountants from one of the Big Four firms or recent MBA graduates and train them themselves, said Charania.
BNP's hiring plans are tied to a strategy to grow revenue in Asia from investment solutions, and corporate and investment banking (CIB) to more than €3bn by 2016. As well as cash management and trade finance, this includes expanding BNP's Asian franchises in fixed income, equities and advisory, private banking, and insurance, according to a statement from the firm.
The French bank's hiring plans are cold comfort for recently retrenched senior investment bankers in Asia from the likes of Barclays and Morgan Stanley. First, only about 5 percent of the new BNP recruits, around 65 people, are expected to be at director level or above, said the anonymous Singapore recruiter. Second, he said, BNP has traditionally preferred to parachute in French staff to fill leadership roles in Asia, rather than recruit new people – Pierre Veyres, the Singapore-based head of global transaction banking, is a prominent example. Third, headhunters don't believe that the new hiring will push up salaries. “Given that most banks are experiencing instability, a premium is not necessary to bring talent on board,” said Annie Yap, group managing director of Singapore headhunters AYP Asia.
BNP would not comment on how the new jobs will be distributed across its 14 Asia Pacific markets, but Singapore, its regional hub, will probably be the biggest beneficiary. “I believe Singapore and Hong Kong will look at easily taking 50 to 60 percent of these roles,” said Yap.