To the outsider the job of a financial analyst looks glamorous. There are salaries longer than phone numbers, the power to move stocks or even markets with a few carefully chosen words and opportunities to run up enough air miles to move a small army. But behind the glamour is a tough job which is getting even tougher, particularly in Hong Kong, according to veteran regional strategist Paul Schulte. The re-emergence of Japan as an international investment destination in the past 18 months had put the SAR and Asia into fourth place behind the United States, Europe and Japan, said Mr Schulte. Global investment banks were allocating resources according to that pecking order. 'Hong Kong isn't even, win, place or show,' said Mr Schulte. After nine years as a strategist in Hong Kong for Credit Suisse First Boston and ING Barings, Mr Schulte resigned last August to take time out in his California beach house. Last month, he returned to search for jobs in Hong Kong but felt the demands being put on the dwindling number of the SAR's expatriate investment professionals were too great. 'I loved Hong Kong, but I'm not going back,' said Mr Schulte, who has now switched his job search to Tokyo and New York. 'I just realised in the interview process that you are getting thrown tonnes of things on your plate . . . absurd mandates.' A drift of investment professionals from Tokyo into Hong Kong had been reversed, others had left to join Internet start-ups, while there had been few newcomers to replace those lost during the Asian crisis. 'Firms are hiring but the pool of talent has shrunk dramatically. What happens is anyone who is half-way talented, is being catapulted into positions of enormous responsibility with fewer and fewer resources,' said Mr Schulte. Some had left because of overwork, others had been culled because they could not meet the demands of covering up to 11 countries in the region. 'The people who are there are getting very well paid but are all generally exhausted and wiped out because they have been trying to keep things together with bubble gum and bobby pins for coming on two years,' Mr Schulte said. Life is also getting tougher for analysts because of the change in the nature of the work. US investment banks have established a grip on the culture of the SAR's financial community in the past three years. 'The job is now 60 per cent marketing,' said Anthony Lok, the head of regional banking research for Nomura International. For analysts that means spending increasing amounts of time on the road, peddling their stock ideas and investment strategies to key institutional clients. For Mr Lok that is three or four months a year. He was away for most of last month and visited 15 US cities and 10 European cities in 20 days. While it is business-class flights and five-star hotels all the way, it can be 'painful', he said. 'It sounds good in theory but it is not a pleasant experience, particularly if you have family,' said Mr Lok. He was particularly saddened when his baby daughter failed to recognise him after he returned from a long trip last year. Analysts can find themselves staying up to 2am drinking with a client in London before catching the 6am 'red eye' flight to New York, where they are expected to be fresh for the next round of high-powered meetings. Long hours in the office are another burden. Richard Ferguson, the telecommunications analyst at Nomura, has a typical schedule running from 7.30am to 8.30pm and some work at weekends. While Mr Ferguson loves the writing part of his duties, much of the work is mundane. 'It is not a glamorous life at all. You spend many hours and even days on end dealing with spreadsheets. People don't realise how boring it can be,' he said. The long hours and high standards demanded mean a heavy wastage rate. 'Every office where I have worked, some people have said 'forget it. I can't be dealing with this any more',' he said. The analysts are also coming under more pressure from their trading colleagues. 'The numbers have to be right or the sales guys will be all over you like a rash,' said Vijay Harjani, vice-president of Asian equity research at Credit Suisse First Boston. 'They are much smarter and more research-orientated than they were.' The demands of the job can take their toll on family life and Mr Harjani admitted the exceptionally long hours he put in at the start of his career had been partly responsible for the break-up of his marriage. 'I got wrapped up in this exciting business and didn't pay enough attention,' he said. Many find the pace too tough for the long haul and seek an 'exit strategy'. Of course the huge salaries paid to analysts help persuade survivors like Mr Harjani to stick around - he drives a Porsche 911 Carrera. It is hard to pin down exactly what analysts do earn in the SAR. But it is what Mr Schulte calls 'cuckoo money'. Some junior researchers may get as little as HK$20,000 a month, while more senior hands can pull in a basic wage of HK$200,000 to HK$300,000. But industry professionals, and particularly those in the US houses, live and die by their year-end bonuses. Nine months might be typical but it could stretch to three or four years. Expats can also add monthly housing allowances of perhaps HK$50,000 or more and help with their children's education. But some such as Mr Schulte believe investment banks are going to have to make the deals even sweeter to attract top talent from abroad. 'These expat premiums for Hong Kong are just not worth it any more,' he said. 'The pollution is unspeakable and it is worse than when I left a year ago.' The woes of the SAR analyst should be put in a context, some in the industry insist. 'There's no need for a sob story,' one said. 'Look at firemen and nurses. They do a tough job, they are on call all the time and they don't even get paid much for it.'