Potential for expats increasing in Hong Kong financial jobs market

by Ray Clancy on March 16, 2010

The finance sector in Hong Kong is actively recruiting and offering opportunities for suitably qualified expats, it is claimed.

While financial services workers in the West are still reeling from the aftermath of the global economic crisis, Hong Kong’s finance sector has recovered from downsizing and pay cuts, according to recruitment specialists.

‘There’s a shortage of people who have the right level of experience,’ said Daniel Kelley, director of Search Partners in Hong Kong, a manpower agency that specializes in sourcing personnel for the financial industry.

Whereas many bankers in the city counted themselves lucky to hang on to a job during the darkest hours of the crisis, those switching companies nowadays are likely to secure salary increases of 15% to 20%.

International banks are leading the recruitment drive, although the pick up has also been seen at hedge funds and private equity groups.

‘There’s no one not hiring,’ said Mathew Bennett, managing director at recruitment agency Robert Walter in Hong Kong.

But it doesn’t mean that finding a job will necessarily be easy. The recruitment process can be slow and employers are not rushing into decisions, the experts also point out. The process of vetting candidates can take up to 10 weeks.

‘People are very cautious in making the final decision,’ said Bennett, adding that banks are being ‘quite choosy’ in scrutinizing applicants.

But almost all those laid off in Hong Kong during the global economic crisis have since been rehired. Experts say employment prospects for those with the right experience and skills are indeed much better in Hong Kong than in New York or London.

‘We are starting to get back to that situation which we haven’t see for a year and half, where we really need to start sourcing from overseas and start relocating people,’ said Mark Enticott, associate director of recruitment agency Michael Page International in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, where the stock market is increasing dominated by mainland China companies, is fronting the rebound in terms of financial services in the Asia Pacific region, though Singapore is also heating up.

About 53% of employers in Hong Kong planned to add staff in the current quarter, up from 35% in the preceding quarter, while just over half of those in Singapore plan on hiring, up from 34% in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to a recent survey by the recruiter and employment trends tracker Hudson.

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