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HSBC pours cold water over Hong Kong’s hottest banking job

Are jobs at Hong Kong’s eight new virtual banks, most of which have been recruiting aggressively for the past six months, overhyped? HSBC seems to think so.

HSBC has doubled down on its decision not to apply for a licence to operate one of the new online-only banks in Hong Kong, stating that its existing (but expanding) digital banking team is well equipped to take on the new challengers. “There is nothing a virtual bank can do which we cannot offer. We do not believe we must have a virtual bank licence to operate digital banking services,” Andrew Eldon, head of digital banking for Hong Kong at HSBC, told the South China Morning Post.

Standard Chartered and Bank of China, the other two note-issuing banks in Hong Kong alongside HSBC, have both set up consortiums to run virtual banks, which are expected to launch sometime next year. Stan Chart, in particular, has been hiring people in business, compliance and technology jobs into its virtual banking unit. Last month, for example, it appointed Benjamin Whiting from Lloyds Banking Group as head of front-end engineering. Most of Stan Chart’s Hong Kong-based tech vacancies are for its virtual bank.

Moreover, hiring into virtual banks is helping to drive the job market in financial services, in the face of the ongoing protests sweeping Hong Kong. “Many virtual banks are poaching from traditional banks by offering sizable pay rises,” says Sid Sibal, director of banking and finance at recruiters Hudson.

Still, if you work in digital banking in Hong Kong, HSBC – one of the so-called traditional banks – remains a big player in local recruitment. HSBC has taken on 1,000 staff for its Asia-Pacific and Hong Kong digital operations over the past five years, according to new figures from the SCMP report. And more hiring is on the cards. “HSBC is very keen on investment in our digital platform and talent,” Andrew Connell, global head of partnership development and innovation, retail banking and wealth management at HSBC, told the newspaper.

HSBC has about 50 Hong Kong-based jobs classified as ‘digital’ on its careers website, including digital product managers, UX and UI designers, and various roles on its popular PayMe payments platform. In contrast, Stan Chart’s virtual bank is advertising 18 openings. The extent of HSBC’s hiring is food for thought for job seekers who may otherwise be tempted to join one of the new virtual banks.

If you want a digital banking job at HSBC, you are advised to read its new report, ‘Banking of the Future: Finance in the Digital Age’, which outlines the bank’s approach to automation and focuses on the replacement of a traditional products-based approach by hyper-personalised services, in which customer data is collated to form a central digital ID.

Image credit: Tsuji, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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