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How to get a finance job in Hong Kong

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Out-of-work bankers in Hong Kong who lost their jobs in the aftermath of the global financial crisis should adopt a more creative approach and flexible mindset if they want to find a good job.

Kirstin MacLaren, a director at Michael Page Financial Services in Hong Kong, says that there are still opportunities across the wider financial services sector.

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"But bankers still looking for work need to become more creative. We have seen a shift away from only considering the big names to looking at new players entering the Asia-Pacific banking market. And the ratings agencies and stock exchanges now have a competitive edge in the current climate,” she said.

After the global financial crisis, a number of banks in Hong Kong had to downsize and lay off staff, putting a lot of candidates back on to the market. High calibre bankers were not out of a job for long, though, with Hong Kong and Chinese banks in particular being very proactive in the past 12 months in hiring quality banking professionals, using strong local networks to identify and approach top talent.

China'a banks making innovative offers

Banks headquartered on the mainland have adopted an aggressive stance, using the glut of bankers in the market to make offers to former staffers at the major international investment banks. This hiring initiative has been fuelled by China’s banks internationalising their businesses and exposures.

MacLaren says competitive offers included more compelling remuneration, broader job scope and attractive work-life balance arrangements.

Another key trend has been the emergence of Chinese institutions in the private banking market, and this has spurred competition for experienced private bankers.

Governance governing hiring

Looking ahead, MacLaren says clients are still asking for people for governance-related roles. "Banks are ramping up controls, and reinforcing specific areas like their anti-money laundering and financial crime units in response to local and global regulatory changes.

"In investment banking, the focus will remain on replacement hiring and strategic hiring where particular technical skills are in demand."

She says local banks remain more proactive in hiring and will continue to grow workforces with new hires rather than just replacement hires. "What remains consistent, however, is the demand for Chinese language skills. In Chinese banks, Mandarin is a non-negotiable requirement."

AUTHORAmanda Vermeulen

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