Despite a Slowing Economy, Stronger Demand for Audit Professionals in Hong Kong

Intensifying compliance requirements in Hong Kong’s banking sector is resulting in stronger demand for finance professionals with audit backgrounds, according to recruiting experts Hays.

“Banks are focusing on internal control to minimize risks in a slowing market,” says Dean Stallard, Regional Director for Hays in Hong Kong, where GDP growth is expected to slow to just 1% in 2016. “More audit and compliance professionals are urgently needed as companies focus on expanding their [internal] auditing teams.”

In its latest Quarterly Report for April to June 2016, Hays observes that the gap between the supply and demand of audit professionals in Hong Kong is widening, with employers finding it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies.

“Audit teams are expanding fast in Hong Kong as employers ramp up their hiring activity,” says Stallard. “Unfortunately, the size of the talent pool in Hong Kong remains unchanged, making it more challenging for companies to find suitable candidates.”

New openings

Hays also anticipates new positions in compliance and risk management to open up this quarter. “We expect to see increasing movement in the market post-bonus season, as candidates look for new opportunities to further develop their career,” says Stallard.

Aside from audit and compliance professionals, companies are also seeking regulatory reporting accountants familiar with Hong Kong Monetary Authority guidelines to meet regulatory requirements.

“We are also seeing a high demand for management accounting and financial planning professionals as companies revamp their businesses to pursue further growth in the region,” Stallard says. “Those candidates with a strong analytical mind coupled with excellent communication skills will be highly valued.”

Temporary arrangement

Hays says that candidates are trying to move into the compliance area because of stronger employer demand. Professionals with an audit background stand a good chance due to their transferable skills.

But some may not be for permanent roles. “Where some companies aren’t able to offer permanent roles due to budget constraints, they are willing to grant employees a six month, or one year contract,” Stallard adds.

“For candidates, temporary roles are a good option at present until companies start to approve new headcount when business recovers.”

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