Top finance talent vital to Shanghai's hub status

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2007, 12:00am

Shanghai needs at least 800,000 more finance professionals if it is going to compete with Hong Kong as an international financial hub, say participants in a Pudong District Youth League forum.

The Shanghai-based Labour News said the shortfall estimate was based on an international average for global finance centres in which more than 10 per cent of the population is engaged in the finance-related industries.

New York has about 770,000 financial professionals, Hong Kong 350,000 and Shanghai fewer than 200,000 working in banks, brokerages, accounting firms and other financial institutions, the report said.

Analysts attending the forum on Sunday said the skills shortage was the biggest concern among many aspects putting Shanghai behind the financial centre pack.

They said the city also lacked highly qualified managers, finance theory experts and experienced frontline staff.

Chartered financial analysts in Shanghai numbered in the dozens, well behind Hong Kong and Singapore, with about 1,000 each, and the US, with 25,000, the report said.

Wendy Wang, a Shanghai-based financial services specialist for Bo Le Associates executive search company of Hong Kong, said the number of finance employees in Shanghai had jumped significantly.

'There is surely a large demand in finance professionals in Shanghai. The number has increased significantly in recent years, but the demand is still very strong, especially for fund management companies and foreign banks, which have quite a number of new openings for finance personnel,' Ms Wang said.

In its financial hub blueprint released at the end of last year, Shanghai said it planned to account for about a quarter of the country's direct capital-raising efforts by 2010 and forecast that total turnover in the city's financial markets would reach 80 trillion yuan by then.

Ms Wang said most senior finance positions were filled by overseas applicants, particularly in newer, niche sectors of the industry. As demand grew, so, too, did salaries, she said.

'I don't think there is much difference between the salary level for financial professionals in Hong Kong and in Shanghai,' Ms Wang said. 'As far as I know, many overseas personnel come to China, to Shanghai, to seek better opportunities, so they are willing to compromise on pay.'

Ms Wang said finance staff with about seven to 10 years in the industry, including overseas work experience, could choose from among several offers from Shanghai-based institutions.

But other finance majors were not so optimistic about job prospects.

'I hope I can join a foreign bank in Shanghai. [Financial institutions] are in great need of high-level people, but I don't have any experience,' said Dong Xinhao, a master's degree candidate in finance at Shanghai's Fudan University.

'Shanghai's bid to become an international financial centre is just the government boasting. It won't bring much benefit to me.'

Soaring, crying need

The finance skills shortage is hurting Shanghai globally

Number of Shanghai employers reported by Labour News to be seeking qualified finance staff last October 656