Your Career in Hong Kong: Know the Top 10 Recruiting Trends in 2018

Hong Kong has one of the most diverse sets of talent trends in the Asia region. Throughout 2018, strong hiring activity is expected not only across different industries, but also across a range of roles within various sectors.

“We are in for a busy recruitment year in Hong Kong driven by a range of factors from increasing levels of investment from Mainland China and changing regulatory environments in some sectors to emerging technologies creating greater opportunities but also new challenges,” says Dean Stallard, Managing Director for recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong. 

“Two trends stand out: digital transformation, including the beefing up of cyber security, and the influence of increasing levels of investment from and into Mainland China”

“For example, in the property, construction and infrastructure sector, those on the cutting edge of tech are in vogue to help Hong Kong become a smart city,” observes Stallard. “Companies with heavy equipment are turning to candidates who are able to help Hong Kong residents navigate the city via apps and cloud-based solutions.”

The Internet of Things has already greatly impacted several sectors worldwide, including asset tracking for industry, smart metering for utilities, health monitoring and small logistics, as well as a wide range of smart building and smart city solutions.

Other new trends

“Another example can be found in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sector where candidates with a creative flair, rather than a medical degree, are in high demand to drive marketing and sales initiatives,” he says. 

“In 2018, we will also see different types of employment gain traction such as an increase in the one-year contract and shorter term project-related contracts to help companies drive important change projects. This is especially the case for the insurance sector, where a new regulator is creating regulatory process and compliance projects.”

“In addition to these new trends, a number of prevailing trends will continue to have a heavy influence on the recruitment scene in the year ahead. Two trends stand out: digital transformation, including the beefing up of cyber security, and the influence of increasing levels of investment from and into Mainland China.”

“Both these trends are creating a greater need for more sophisticated candidates with solid multi-language skills, specific experience and strong influencing skills. This will continue to be an important trend driving hiring decisions in 2018,” says Stallard.

The Top 10 talent trends for 2018 in Hong Kong are:

1. Interim and project-based consulting work

An increasing number of organizations will look to optimize core business processes in 2018 to take advantage of new automation technologies and to keep up with changing regulations.

We expect more contract and project-related hiring to follow with candidates in greatest demand being those with strong consulting skills and an ability to deliver projects at a country or regional level. These highly skilled contractors are seen as an attractive alternative to engaging traditional consulting and advisory firms.

We predict an increase in both the number and diversity of opportunities coming to market for these candidates, particularly from organizations driving change-related programs.

2. Creation of a smart city

The Hong Kong government’s commitment to become a ‘Smart City’ has triggered high levels of recruitment activity across construction, property and infrastructure that will continue in 2018.

Companies are investing heavily in smart city, home/building automation and energy efficiency solutions that integrate with the Android and IOS apps used by businesses and individuals alike.

As a result, candidates with knowledge and skills across the Internet of Things, Big Data, apps, wireless, cloud and software are hot property for employers in both the industrial automation and regular IT sectors.

3. Digital transformation

Companies in Hong Kong continue to look to digital to transform systems and processes and improve efficiencies on every level. We are seeing new headcounts approved for 2018 to ensure companies have the digital talent they need to take on challenges from ramping up cyber security to creating more effective enterprise-wide systems and even better websites and apps.

In the insurance industry, FP&A professionals are needed to support expenses management, and financial reporting professionals to help drive IFRS 9 requirements

Cyber security will remain a very hot area of hiring activity over the year ahead. Machine learning candidates, web developers and full stack Java script developers with a good sense of the market will also be in very high demand.

Retail banks and investment banks in particular are offering attractive salaries to entice skilled candidates to make the jump.

4. IFRS 9 in the insurance sector

With IFRS 9 requirements taking hold, there has been a significant rise in one-year contractor positions within the insurance industry. FP&A professionals are needed to support expenses management, and financial reporting professionals to help drive IFRS 9 requirements.

Candidates with reporting experience with the Hong Kong Insurance Authority’s (HKIA) regulatory returns reporting are tipped to be in hot demand in 2018. The HKIA, which took over from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) in mid-2017, is creating new, mandatory regulations that insurance firms in Hong Kong must follow.

5. Growing importance of customer and user experience

Companies are aggressively expanding their customer experience function, creating rising demand for candidates with a solid background in Voice of Customer/Consumer Insight/Customer Analytics.

Employers are looking for passionate and determined candidates able to drive change and shape the customer experience roadmap.

In light of the growing importance of online marketing, we are seeing strong and growing demand for seasoned social media talent and those experienced in formulating content strategies to attract, engage and retain customers.

6. Increasing demand for commercially-minded candidates

A continuing skills shortage in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sector is driving demand for commercially savvy talent in several key skill areas. We expect to see a surge in the hiring of sales and marketing candidates by pharma employers supplying the hospital and government healthcare systems.

New product launches in specialist clinical areas such as oncology will see development of treatments with a focus on immunotherapy. Thus, demand exists for regulatory affairs, medical affairs and health economics professionals.

The number of medical devices organizations operating within Hong Kong is also increasing, and this is generating demand for sales specialists targeting the government and private health markets.

7. Growth of bancassurance

Banks have added new headcount to further establish their bancassurance departments. These roles primarily focus on sales, distribution, product management and compliance. Majority of insurers are also in the process of overhauling various business units, departments and shifts towards a more strategic direction. Economic, regulatory and digital disruption are key factors influencing this change within the insurance industry.

8. Regional exposure in HR

Hong Kong will continue to be the choice of many companies to host regional centers of excellence. As a consequence, 2018 will see many companies seek talent with regional exposure, are bilingual and possess HR Operations and HR analytics/HRIS skills.

There will be a rise in demand for strategic HR Business Partners or HR Generalists particularly focused on talent acquisition. There will also be focus on candidates who are able to influence and who possess strong commercial acumen as well as strong financial understanding.

9. Mainland China’s intensifying impact

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area is one of Mainland China’s national strategies and will play an important role in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

This program will bring changes to commercial banks by fueling steady demand for financial services; encouraging banks to “go global”; opening opportunities to accelerate renminbi internationalization; and promoting business restructuring.

With more companies looking to expand their presence in Mainland China and North Asia, we are seeing a marked increase in demand for senior executives able to conduct business in fluent Mandarin

Most of the banks looking to recruit in the region are foreign or regional banks such as from Singapore and Japan. They want candidates currently working in South China banking centers such as Guangzhou or Shenzhen, as well as candidates in Hong Kong who manage Pearl River Delta clients.

Candidates are expected to have a strong credit sense and an ability to write comprehensive credit proposals in English.

10. Demand for Mandarin speakers

With more companies looking to expand their presence in Mainland China and North Asia, we are seeing a marked increase in demand for senior executives able to conduct business in fluent Mandarin.

Demand is particularly high for Mandarin-speaking Financial Controllers, CFOs, Finance Directors and HR professionals. This is expected to remain the case throughout 2018.

About the Author

Hays is a global professional recruiting group that operates in 33 countries, including China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore. 

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