Financial firms plan to increase Hong Kong hires

Poll shows 38pc of finance executives will expand their HK workforce this year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 3:46am

Banking and financial jobs have often been at risk in Hong Kong over the past two years, but a recruitment firm says there may be better days ahead.

In a recent poll, 38 per cent of 1,100 senior executives from banks and financial institutions based in seven economies, including Britain, the United States, Canada and Hong Kong, said they would add to their permanent headcount in Hong Kong this year. That put the city second only to New York, where 50 per cent of the respondents said they would expand their workforce.

The survey, conducted by Robert Half in January, put London in third place, with 34 per cent indicating an increase in manpower there, followed by Shanghai (28 per cent) and Singapore (23 per cent).

Robert Half director Pallavi Anand expects most of the new jobs to be in compliance and risk management. She said technology workers are also in high demand in the financial sector.

The firm said middle management positions in areas such as credit, taxation and financial planning should receive a jump in salary of 10 per cent this year, while analysts covering compliance and money laundering issues could expect a pay rise of 14-20 per cent.

But Alexa Chow Yee-ping, managing director at Centaline Human Resources Consultants, said it may take some time for the survey's findings to take effect.

"Right now, I don't feel that the job market in banking and financial services is getting any better, but perhaps it will take time for the overseas conglomerates to put their plans into action," Chow said.

She said small-scale redundancies had continued to plague investment banks and brokerage firms over the past few months, with job losses ranging from middle management to very senior positions.

Two months ago, South Korea-based investment house Mirae Asset Financial announced its brokerage in Hong Kong would be shut down to save costs amid poor market conditions, with more than 30 staff losing their jobs.

That followed downsizing and restructuring exercises at major financial institutions such as Daiwa Securities, Nomura, HSBC and Citigroup.

Last year, Samsung Securities closed down its Hong Kong office to focus on its home market of South Korea.