Global banks hiring staff in China

While global giants cut back on staffing around the world, some are moving to take advantage of services aimed at a burgeoning middle class

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 8:39am

Banks are shedding staff around the world to cut costs this year with the exception of the mainland, where several European lenders are hiring to support the expansion of their networks.

Three European banks - Britain's HSBC and Standard Chartered, and Germany's Deutsche Bank - are hiring people for various functions on the mainland, according to headhunting sources.

Elsewhere in the sector hundreds of positions have been cut at international banks including Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. Most cuts have come in the investment banking areas rather than the retail and commercial banking sectors, as they seek to generate more cash from traditional services such as lending and deposits.

But on the mainland banks such as HSBC are continuing to build their branch networks and are adding to their headcounts according to a headhunter familiar with HSBC's hiring plan on the mainland.

Robert Grandy, a managing director specialising in the financial services industry at recruitment firm Korn/Ferry, said the expansion was likely to continue in the medium term.

"Most of the firms seem to be committed to the market in China," he said.

However, the hiring was selective, said Robert Parkinson, chief executive of RMG International Business Consulting in Beijing. "You might have banks letting support staff, IT and accounting people go, but they are still hiring (in other areas). "

According to Grandy, new hires were in areas such as transaction banking, trade finance, and cash management.

Cherol Cheuk, general manager of the Shanghai office of recruitment consulting company Hudson's, said although foreign banks were hiring, they had become more cautious and were focused on hires that could generate more cash flow.

"Banks are tending to hire more local people to fill spaces as sales staff and relationship managers who can bring in more local customers," she said.

Meanwhile, the growing wealth of mainlanders also has created room for foreign banks to grow private banking business, Parkinson said.

According to a survey by the Hurun Report and GroupM Knowledge, there were 1.02 million millionaires in the mainland in July, 6.3 per cent up on the previous year.

Parkinson said foreign banks needed to recruit staff skilled in asset and fund management. "They need people who have expertise in getting money out of China," he said.