CHINA MARKETS
White Collar
by

Hong Kong, China stock market rally has not led to more hires

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 11:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 11:53am

The Hong Kong stock market rally has brought a fortune for many investors and lured in new punters into the market, but this bull run has not created many jobs in the market.

White Collar talked to a number of brokers but could not find anyone who say they plan to hire more. While they point to new investors opening accounts to trade stocks, most of the dealing is done electronically so they do not need to hire a lot more staff to serve the rising number of clients.

Many customers of banks and brokers are trading via the internet nowadays so they just need to make sure the platform works during the bull run instead of hiring people to take telephone calls from their customers.

There are still some investors insist on a human touch and they need to call their brokers to place orders. Many of them complain that they could not easily get hold of their brokers by phone during the rally over the last two weeks. But as long as they could finally call their brokers and make money, they do not complain too much.

Brokers said they believe their staff can handle the demand from customers and they would take a wait and see attitude on how long the bull run can last before hiring more.

Christine Houston, managing director of ESGI, an executive search and leadership advisory firm, also said the current market rally has not yet translated into financial firms hiring more people.

“The higher market turnover and resurgent Hang Seng Index has not meant investment banks have had to create new positions,” she said. “Many investment banks do not want to expand headcounts too widely as capital requirements after the financial crisis created greater pressure on margins.”

She said asset management firms, insurance companies and wealth management departments in the banking sector want to hire more people. But they are not hiring because of the market rally but to develop products in a bid to capture the demand from the rising middle class in Asia.

In terms of functional roles, she said the most wanted executives include research analysts, risk management and compliance officers as well as human resources executives in Hong Kong and across Asia.

Brokers also hold the view that they all want to hire more people to do compliance work and to make sure they follow all the capital and other regulatory requirements by the Securities and Futures Commission.

The SFC is also said to be closely monitoring the capital position of the brokers as the regulators worry some small players or the aggressive ones may be hit by a turnaround in market sentiment. This has led the compliance people to become the most sought after executives in this equity rally.

enoch.yiu@scmp.com