If you’re looking for a banking role in Hong Kong or Singapore, don’t expect a huge uptick in the job market next year.
Headhunters in the Asian financial hubs tell us they aren’t expecting a bumper 2014, while a new survey by recruiters Astbury Marsden points to falling candidate confidence in Singapore.
But there are some banking roles in Asia that will be genuinely in demand in 2014 – here’s our pick of the region’s most sought-after jobs, where candidates can expect pay rises of 15% or more.
Attention unemployed i-bankers: IPO execution roles will be hot in Hong Kong next year, according to Marlene Chan, a senior consultant at headhunters Capital People. “The expectation of the IPO market is positive for 2014 and hiring will become more aggressive because many banks will face a shortage of staff in ECM due to massive layoffs in 2012 and 2013. People who speak native Mandarin will be especially in demand and will get the highest pay rises,” she added. Another headhunter said Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and HSBC will be hiring in ECM in Hong Kong, as will the Chinese banks.
Senior client-facing origination bankers in capital markets will command some of the highest pay increases in Asia next year, especially in DCM, which has enjoyed a buoyant 2013 in the region. “Most rainmakers can expect a sizeable increment of between 15% and 25% to lure them away from their existing employers,” said Emma Charnock, regional managing director at recruiters PSD in Hong Kong. “Multilingual bankers with an extensive grassroots-level grid of client contacts and an excellent track record of originating and closing business deals will be most sought after.”
“I expect banking-tech jobs in derivatives to pick up in 2014,” said Vince Natteri, a director at IT recruiters Pinpoint Asia in Hong Kong. “A lot of our global-banking clients have been doing well in derivatives and there will be more vacancies involving the building and enhancement of derivatives trading systems both from an order-management and regulatory systems standpoint,” he said. Local candidates with strong communication skills in English and knowledge of derivatives will be in demand and can expect average pay increases of 10% to 15%.
Banks in Asia want credit-risk professionals to help them with stress-test and other risk-mitigation work. Candidates with expertise in model development, model validation and risk analytics are particularly in demand, while MFE, PhD, CFA and FRM qualifications also go down a treat, according to Candy Choong, principal consultant, risk management, at recruiters Selby Jennings in Singapore. “But the talent pool in these areas is limited in Singapore; candidates who are moving to a similar role can expect a pay-increment range of 10% to 20%,” she added. “In 2014, it’s crucial for banks to train young talents in credit risk, otherwise they will find themselves fighting over one good candidate.”
The demand for project-finance and structured-finance bankers is rising, fueled by the need to expand infrastructure investment in Asian economies to cater for the needs of a growing population. “But typically the candidates circle is small and banks have to pay a premium to recruit: 18% to 25% increases,” said Angela Kuek, director of search firm The Meyer Consulting Group in Singapore. Recruitment isn’t dominated by the bulge bracket, but by banks who have both a deep-seated and near-term focused growth strategy in Asia. In other words: Singaporean banks, Japanese banks and Australian banks.
Operations jobs are rapidly disappearing as banks in Singapore or Hong Kong offshore to lower-cost locations or outsource to third-party vendors like Euroclear and Clearstream. If you work in the back office, you should consider applying to a vendor. “They need candidates across all areas of operations, but particularly settlements, corporate actions and client servicing. In Hong Kong, candidates need to be fluent in English and/or Cantonese, plus at least one of Mandarin, Korean, Thai or Hindi,” said Hong Kong-based Fraser Douglas, a managing consultant at recruiters Links International. “Vendors originally targeted banks in Hong Kong and Singapore, but as the industry matures, they are now focusing on countries including mainland China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and India.”
Compliance professionals of all ilks will (still) be in demand in 2014, but if you want to be considered super sought-after you must possess trade-finance experience. “Ideally you should also have a legal background to assess trade transactions from every angle,” said Farida Charania, chief executive officer, banking and finance, at search firm Nastrac Group in Singapore. “There is definitely a shortage of talent in this area as a lot of legal practitioners do not feel comfortable moving to industry. Good candidates can easily command a rise of 20% upwards.”
The scorching hotness of private bankers in Asia is apparent in the pay rises they are expected to receive if they change employers next year. “For high-performing candidates, we will see banks offering more than 25%. Clients will only move with the banker if they have a strong relationship and the new bank is offering a better platform. Therefore the risk-reward of moving has to be attractive to the banker,” said Rahul Sen, a former private banker who’s now a director at search firm Sheffield Haworth in Singapore. “They may not move for a ‘mere’ 15% to 20% as they will need to reinvent the wheel again in their new bank.”
New regulations, from FATCA to Dodd Frank, triggered a surge in client on-boarding roles in Asia during the final quarter of 2013. Banks will need more of these professionals next year, according to Hans Li, senior consultant, banking and financial services, at recruiters Ambition. “Many project teams are being set up to cope with the high volume in ongoing account reviews, with emphasis on the quality data required by regulators,” he added. “Given the demand, there will be a shortage of candidates, with banks trying to attract talent through providing personal development, exposure to key regulations, and salary increments of 10% to 15%.”