HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Here's why it's harder to retain and attract younger bankers in Hong Kong

Recruitment strategies must now take into account these industry changes.

Hong Kong remains the world’s third largest financial centre after New York and London but is facing greater pressures to retain and attract top talent including the next generation of bankers, according to recruiting experts Hays.

More than 100,000 people are employed at any one time in the banking & financial services industry in Hong Kong that features 70 of the world’s top 100 banks. However, changes on a number of fronts are keeping those tasked with developing human capital and recruitment strategies on their toes.

“There’s no doubt Hong Kong’s banking & financial services industry has been feeling the pressure in recent times, particularly in the face of greater regulatory compliance and the need to pivot to more prudent lending strategies, while also positioning to take advantage of greater investment from mainland China,” says Jack Leung, Business Director of Hays in Hong Kong.

“It’s a dynamic environment for those responsible for the people and recruitment strategies supporting the banking & financial services industry – and certainly lively from our point of view at Hays,” says Jack.

“For example, over the last year we saw demand for corporate banking relationship managers drop to its lowest level in five years due to restructures and portfolio reorganisation as many banks exited risky and non-profitable clients.”

“Now, the pendulum is swinging the other way with many banks on the look out for the same candidate: the corporate banking relationship manager with eight to 15 years experience, strong interpersonal skills and a proven track record of treading the difficult line between risk and reward.”

“Competition for the ideal candidate is incredibly strong but employers are remaining steadfast in their quest. As a result, the recruitment process can take many months and roles will remain vacant if employers cannot find the right person.”

“We are also seeing a huge surge in demand for complaints-handling professionals with excellent soft skills capable of diplomatically dealing with clients adjusting to the less flexible and more conservative lending environment in Hong Kong.”

“Language skills also remain strong for a range of roles particularly, but not exclusively, Mandarin, which is another indicator of what is happening in the banking & financial services industry here.”

“And, while the banking and financial services industry has always been a preferred career option for talented, young, high achievers, the sector is starting to face challenges both to retain existing talent but also to attract the next generation of bankers,” says Jack.

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