How to quit your Asian banking job in 2019 without massively losing face

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Bright exit table

Job hopping may be rife in Singapore and Hong Kong banking, but it still pays to quit your role in the right way. The cities' financial sectors aren't large enough to guarantee that you won't be working alongside your colleagues – or even your boss – in the future.

If you’re looking to move to a new bank after pocketing your bonus in early 2019, here’s how to leave in style.

Meeting first, letter second

In the job-hopping world of Asian financial services, too many bankers treat resignation as an impersonal box-ticking exercise. But you should never just hand over a formal resignation letter up front – always have a one-to-one talk with your boss first, says Farida Charania, group CEO of recruiters Nastrac in Singapore. “Tell your manager before you send the letter, and agree on a date of release.”

Show some appreciation

Your boss may view your departure as a loss of face – a personal affront to their leadership – so try to allay these fears when you meet. Managers tend to feel defensive about resignations, explains Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre in Singapore. “Show your appreciation for your boss toward the start of the resignation meeting and make them feel they’re not at fault – point out the learning opportunities they’ve given you, for example,” he adds.

Don’t debate

If your manager chooses to challenge your resignation with some aggressive questioning, it’s best not to get involved in an argument – neutral responses work best. “You can’t stop what others say about you – it’s how you react that’s most important. Reinforce that you understand their situation, but if they’re still very aggressive, it’s best to acknowledge how they feel and then walk away,” says Koh.

Kill the counter

In the current job market in Asia, it’s likely that you will get a counter offer. Don’t let this delay your resignation – prepare your response in advance so you can politely cut the counter dead in its tracks, says Charania. “It’s good that the bank is trying to retain you, but it’s not good that they counter only when you want to leave, so stay firm but cordial,” she says.

Stay impassive

Dwelling on negative reasons for leaving isn’t advisable, especially in comparatively small markets like Singapore and Hong Kong where many people in the finance community know each other. “Even if your boss is the main reason you are now leaving, don’t bring out all your negative emotions during your departure process,” says Angela Kuek, director of search firm Meyer Consulting in Singapore. “And don’t complain to HR or colleagues about your boss either. By staying impassive, you’ll also not be emotionally drained during the exit period and this will help you stay focused when you join your new firm.”

Ease the pain

Do whatever you can to ensure a smooth transition. Don’t just focus on business-as-usual work during your notice period, provide a handover schedule of outstanding issues, says Adrian Choo, a business development director at Lee Hecht Harrison in Singapore. Fabrice Desmarescaux, managing partner for Southeast Asia at Eric Salmon & Partners, adds: “Think hard about how you can help. Can you stay until you finish an important project? Can you help identify a replacement? Make sure your manager doesn't lose face during the handover and remember my number-one rule: assume you will deal with these people again – someday, somewhere.”

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Image credit: Photosampler, Getty

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