“You bring the donuts to work”: inside the new top tech jobs at HSBC in Hong Kong

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If you needed any evidence of HSBC’s rampant technology recruitment in Hong Kong here it is: more than one in five (22%) of the firm’s local vacancies are in tech and digital banking, according to our analysis of the bank’s careers website. That’s double the percentage for legal, compliance and risk (11%), the next largest job field and the former hot sector for hiring across Hong Kong banking.

It’s not just that tech dominates compared with other roles internally. HSBC, which uses Hong Kong (alongside London) as its main hub for front-office tech development, is well ahead of other large banks in terms of Hong Kong vacancies numbers.

HSBC and subsidiary Hang Seng Bank have 226 jobs online which broadly fall into the technology category (including analytics positions and non-coding roles in digital banking, such as business analysts). By contrast, key rivals Standard Chartered and Citi – two banks which also generate a high proportion of their revenues from Asia – currently have just 26 and 17 Hong Kong tech vacancies, respectively (although Stan Chart also has non-tech ones within its new virtual banking unit). Goldman Sachs is near the top of the chasing pack, but still only boasts 49 openings in its Hong Kong engineering team.

What type of roles is HSBC hiring for in Hong Kong right now? Away from developer jobs, there’s a plethora of design and product management positions on offer, mainly within HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) division, which is spearheading the firm’s digital banking projects, including the widely-used PayMe e-wallet app.

HSBC, for example, is now building up its in-house user experience team. It wants a lead UX designer who can “mentor and grow” more junior UX professionals to “lessen reliance on external vendors”. The bank is also looking for a digital product pipeline manager to help it “define common digital product and customer strategies” across all channels including employee tablets, according to its careers site.

Like other banks in Hong Kong, HSBC is clamouring for candidates with big data skills. Once recruited, its new senior digital data manager will be “developing and enforcing data integration processes, templates, design patterns, frameworks, best practices and technical standards” across RBWM. This role doesn’t demand finance-sector experience (candidates from tech companies are preferred), which reflects HSBC’s wider approach to digital banking hiring. “The skills we need are primarily digital ones. In each team we look to have a balance of people with and without prior banking experience,” Tamara van den Ban, HSBC’s Hong Kong-based chief customer officer for digital global, told us previously.

If you’re going for a programming-based position at HSBC in Hong Kong, the language to know is Java, which is more than five times as popular within the bank’s tech job descriptions as Python. As we reported last week, trading-focused Python is the most sought-after language among US investment banks in Hong Kong, but HSBC’s strength in retail banking may explain the popularity of Java there.

That’s not to say you can’t find leading-edge jobs within HSBC’s operations, services and technology division. A current IT lead architect role requires experience of implementing data integration and machine learning. Knowledge in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data is an advantage when applying for a solution architect opening. Meanwhile, there are 32 technology roles at HSBC in Hong Kong that call for cloud computing expertise.

HSBC hasn’t forgotten the softer stuff, though. Some vacancies mention a “DevOps culture” in which techies “need to look beyond pure programming and get involved with the deployment and operation of the software”. And if you go for HSBC’s senior engineer, Java specialist position, you must be a “kind, thoughtful person” who will “bring donuts to work”, according to the bank’s careers site.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

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