The junior ranks of global investment banks in Hong Kong are increasingly dominated by mainland Chinese bankers as Mandarin becomes a prerequisite for deal making in North Asia. But where are US and European banks in Hong Kong getting their Chinese graduates from?
Many of them are already based in Hong Kong, having moved there to study at local universities, while others are so-called Haigui, who went to college in the West and have returned to Asia to work.
It is, however, possible to attend a university in mainland China itself and still secure a role at the likes of J.P. Morgan or UBS in Hong Kong. Just be careful about where you study. Our analysis shows that global banks in Hong Kong typically only hire from five elite Chinese universities.
We examined data from the public profiles of people who studied in China and are now analysts and associates (i.e. up to five years of experience) at 11 leading global banks in Hong Kong. When then filtered out Chinese universities supplying fewer than 10 graduates to the total across all banks, eliminating Nanjing University and Beijing Normal University among others.
Rare exceptions aside, Hong Kong banks are recruiting almost exclusively from the following institutions when they hire mainland-educated candidates: Peking University, Tsinghua University, Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Zhejiang University. While the data only includes people who have online profiles, it is strongly indicative of Hong Kong banks’ favourite Chinese universities.
The appearance of Peking and Tsinghua at the top of our table is perhaps no shock – they have both also been ranked by QS as the leading two universities (across all disciplines) in China. Like the other three schools, they are in the C9 League, China’s equivalent of the Ivy League. Peking’s Guanghua School of Management, meanwhile, is building a global reputation for its undergraduate business and finance programmes.
But the extent of Peking and Tsinghua’s dominance is still surprising. Over the past five years, Peking University alone has educated more than a third of the former mainland-based students who are now working at international banks in Hong Kong.
Which bank has hired the most people from Peking University since 2013? Goldman Sachs. As the chart below shows, Goldman employs 17% of the Peking graduates among the 11 banks we looked at. HSBC, which is pivoting its entire business toward North Asia, is in second spot at 13%.
Our final table (see below) highlights differences between banks when it comes to recruiting from the five Chinese universities. J.P. Morgan is the main outlier. It gets 33% of its mainland grads from Shanghai Jiao Tong and 22% from Zhejiang – higher proportions than any other firm for both universities.
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