More equities trading jobs are opening up at global banks in Hong Kong, but only elite performers with mainland market knowledge need apply.
After a slow start to the year the hiring market in equities has become more buoyant since Easter, says Sinan Atahan, Asia head of finance and trading recruitment at recruiters Spencer-Ogden in Hong Kong. "The Shanghai-Hong Stock Connect has finally taken off with the regulatory easing efforts of China."
“Stock-market turnover in HK has surged and this means more business for banks, which is creating more demand for talent, in particular equities traders and research analysts, to maintain banks’ service levels and their competitive edge,” says Sam Chi Yung, a strategist at Delta Asia Financial Group in Hong Kong.
“Compared with the strict regulatory regimes in the US and Europe, the HK market is becoming more attractive and the valuation of the HK market is still low compared with most other major markets. This growth potential could create even more demand for equities traders in the future, as could the planned stock connect with Shenzhen,” adds Yung.
Barclays and Deutsche Bank, in particular, are hiring in equities in Hong Kong. The German firm appointed Rob Ebert head of equities for Asia, Japan and Australia earlier this month and is building its equities headcount as part of its five-year plan announced on April 27. Barclays announced last week that is expanding its Asian equities unit even after making severe cuts to its investment banking division globally. It poached Warren Deats from Bank of America Merrill Lynch in November to lead programme and ETF trading for Asia Pacific and has revealed that its cash-equity broking unit in the region is set to turn a profit by 2016.
Neither firm, though, is keen on recruiting traders left without work following a string of redundancies at rival banks in January and February, say headhunters. Standard Chartered closed its equities division leading to 100 job losses in Hong Kong, while CLSA cut 25 equity traders in the territory and CIMB trimmed about 40 equities jobs across Asia.
“There are quite a few traders on the job market but people who have been laid off are not the type of candidates that banks are looking for,” says John Mullally, director of financial services at recruiters Robert Walters in Hong Kong.
“They’d have no interest in SCB/CLSA equities staff unless they bring unique relationships in the market, which is unlikely,” adds Nick Wells, a director at search firm Webber Chase in Singapore. “The equities business is largely driven by client flow and SCB/CLSA have struggled to drive clients to their trading teams. By contrast, Barclays and Deutsche have more sophisticated platforms that ensure smoother trading and clearing – and hiring.”
So what kind of equities traders are in demand in Hong Kong? “Banks are looking for candidates in the mid-management level – people who are relatively senior and have an established track record but aren’t hugely expensive,” says Mullally.
“Those with China exposure, especially A-share related experience, are banks’ main target,” says Yung from Delta Asia. “Moreover, the trading of warrants and CBBCs has also increased recently and this may increase the demand for derivatives traders.”