Recruitment Slows in Hong Kong Financial Services

Hong Kong experienced a 24% decrease in the number of financial services job opportunities in Q1 of 2013 compared to Q1 of 2012, according to the latest quarterly Job Barometer from eFinancialCareers.


The overall APAC region experienced a similar decline (-20%) over the period, with Singapore and Australia recording decreases of -13% and -34% respectively.


“As we have witnessed recently, Hong Kong’s financial industry is not immune to job losses. While it is unlikely that 2013 will be a bumper year for recruitment in Asian financial services, we do expect a gentle and sustainable recovery in job opportunities compared with last year,” said George McFerran, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, eFinancialCareers.


“Looking forward we expect the job market will be more buoyant in insurance, retail, corporate and transaction banking, where revenues will be more stable and retail banks will continue to expand to meet client needs in Asia,” added McFerran. “In the middle office, we see no end in sight to the demand for regulatory and risk professionals, while back office roles, in particular low-level operational ones, will still face the threat of being off shored to lower-cost locations.”


Asia Pacific Top Performers in Q1

Compliance, risk management and retail banking were the top performing sectors in Asia-Pacific, with quarter-on-quarter growth in job postings of 54%, 29% and 25% respectively.


With the increase of new local and international regulations, demand for staff will continue. New compliance roles will be created, particularly on the back of the new Basel III capital adequacy requirements and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.


Staff leaving need to be replaced quickly, therefore professionals in this sector can often command high pay rises when changing employers.


As banks look to expand their Asian businesses during a period of continued instability in global markets, they need risk talent to manage and mitigate operations, and assess credit and market risk.  As risk professionals are well rewarded in their current roles and reluctant to change jobs, recruitment into this function could be challenging.  As a result, risk is one of the sectors where banks in Asia will consider recruiting internationally if they face a local talent shortage.


Retail banking is a comparatively high staff-turnover sector, with vacancy levels boosted by the need to backfill jobs. As Asia’s consumer wealth increases, banks will need more staff to build their affluent customer base.  Unlike investment banking in the region, which has been hit by falling deal-flows and fee income, the comparative stability of the revenue in the retail market will help keep recruitment healthy.


Continued market volatility and budgetary pressures imposed by cost-conscious investment banks are combining to subdue front-office recruiting in Asia, especially in Derivatives (-58%) and Trading (-53%). Firms will use current resources and keep trading teams at current levels unless there is a prolonged global economic recovery.

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