It’s one thing wanting to change your banking job in Asia after pocketing your bonus – it’s another actually being able to move.
In some banking roles, however, making the post-bonus switch in the next few weeks is altogether easier: banks are hiring, talent is short and pay rises are on the high side.
Here are some of the roles in Singapore, Hong Kong and China where candidates are most likely to clinch jobs.
The growth of foreign banks like Citi and Standard Chartered in China is hampered by a lack of relationship managers – people who can network with local clients but cope with the corporate culture of an international firm. “And when banks expand or people move, particularly after bonuses, it creates an even more acute shortage,” says Alistair Ramsbottom, managing director of Shanghai search firm The Blacklock Group. Unable to always poach experienced RMs from competitors, banks are hiring from insurance firms and Big Four accounting firms. Pay rises for those who change companies rarely dip below 20%.
Product control recruitment is recovering. “As investment-banking deal volumes improve, it’s becoming more important this year to build a strong backbone to support this – the operations to execute deals and product control to make sure the deals are executed correctly,” says Farida Charania, chief executive officer, banking and finance, at headhunting firm Nastrac Group in Singapore. Big Four accountants are now in particular demand for associate-level product control jobs. “Most of them move with four years of accountancy experience, so the salaries they command in the IB world are about 20% above their current bases.”
“Raising capital on debt capital markets rather than through equity issuances and IPOs has been a growing trend in Asia,” says John Mullally, associate director, financial services, at recruiters Robert Walters in Hong Kong. “There’s now a talent shortage at analyst and associate levels because the graduate intake into DCM since the financial crisis has been low in comparison with other areas of investment banking,” adds Mullally. “We have seen junior credit research analysts, who sit within the FICC markets business, move into roles within DCM. And junior coverage bankers in IBD have moved into DCM to seek greater earning potential and better career prospects.”
Foreign banks like HSBC, Citi and DBS are staffing up in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone – an enclave of the city where China is piloting currency exchange, renminbi convertibility and other financial reforms – but not all SFTZ jobs are for front-office currency traders. “Candidates who are familiar with local regulations and compliance in the zone are also sought after,” says Stephen He, managing consultant at recruitment agency Kelly Services. “Compliance people can get a 25% to 35% pay increase as most banks believe there are significant opportunities to make cross-border RMB treasury and cash management more efficient and compliant.”
Mandarin isn’t usually a requirement for jobs in Singapore, but commodities traders who speak the language are now being targeted by banks in Singapore, Asia’s commodities hub. “There is a demand for Chinese-speaking candidates with proven experience dealing with the Chinese market, arising from an increase in commodities consumption in China,” says Ailing Huang, associate director of energy, commodities and financial services at Kerry Consulting in Singapore. “I’ve also seen an increase in demand for these candidates from Chinese-owned commodities trading firms who are setting up in Singapore to taking advantage of Singapore’s status as a major financial and logistics centre.”