Expats can find good careers in finance and banking in Asia, according to new guide

by Ray Clancy on December 25, 2014

Expats looking for a career in finance and banking can still find jobs in Asia but some roles are being cut back, it is claimed.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for example, there is a genuine expansion in the banking sector with expats most likely to find opportunities in product development jobs or managerial roles.


There are still roles to be found for expats in the banking sector in Asia, depending on the country.

According to a guide to finding work in finance from financial services career firm efinancialcareers, banking in Kuala Lumpur is enjoying a renaissance as the city is becoming an Islamic finance hub.

Currently big banks such as HSBC, Citi and Standard Chartered are hiring, as are less obvious players like Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Meanwhile, three Malaysian banks, RHB Capital, CIMB Group and MBSB, are merging next year to create a powerhouse regional bank which will be the fourth largest in Southeast Asia.

Banks are trying to create an expanding client base and not just in Islamic finance. The growth of the Malaysian middle class, the growth of local small and medium sized enterprises and the continued expansion of multi nationals in Malaysia continues,í according to Steve Parkes, director of recruiters Michael Page in Kuala Lumpur.

“This has all contributed to the need for more banking professionals, front, middle and back office, which will last long into 2015. Relationship managers and internal auditors are in particular demand,” he said.

“There’s a combination of new hires and replacements in shared services. And as the market matures banks will also want to hire more in operational and enterprise risk management,” he added.

Malaysia, however doesn’t have as many openings and expats are advised to concentrate on managerial positions in back office hubs and those focused on complex financial products.

Australia is also regarded as having good opportunities, and not just the obvious finance centres in Sydney and Melbourne. Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie and UBS all have offices in the Western Australian capital of Perth but the operations are slowing as the local mining boom slows.

According to Chris Kent, regional director of recruiters Hays in Western Australia, the most sought after finance careers in Perth are now in financial planning. He points out Australiaís big four banks, ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac, all employ financial planners, as do large wealth managers like AMP.

He explained that the sector has been suffering from fresh talent shortages since the introduction of the government’s Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms last year, which impose more onerous standards on fin planners.

“We are seeing new job opportunities emerge in Perth due to senior planners leaving. All major lenders and most boutique firms are now looking for the next generation of degree qualified staff and there are a number of high volume recruitment campaigns,” said Kent.

The banking and financial industry is expected to be expanding in Jakarta, Indonesia, but opportunities are mainly for senior positions. Erika Sangkaen, consultant for banking and financial services at recruiters Robert Walters Indonesia, told the firm that there has been strong demand for compliance and operational risk professionals to set up more compliant and safer business structures.

“In 2015, we foresee more growth in the front office as banks look to grow their businesses, especially in distribution and sales roles,” Sangkaen added.

However, overseas nationals are advised to seek an internal transfer with a global or regional bank at a managerial level as, while people with multinational leadership experience in banking are thin on the ground in Jakarta, most rank and file jobs are reserved for Indonesians.

Also local rules are making it a challenge for banks to obtain work visas and lack of market and regulatory knowledge, especially in the areas of accounting and compliance, further tightens the candidate pool.


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