LAST YEAR WAS a good one for most people in the financial services industry. Market forces favoured employees, where demand for their services was greater than supply, and many received inflation-busting salary increases. Financial markets performed well and high bonuses provided a deliciously thick coat of icing on the end-of-year celebratory cakes for many bankers. Changing jobs in banking and accountancy was relatively easy in 2006, and with change often came larger salaries. The trend looks set to continue well into this year so if, in the words of Irish singer Bono of U2, you 'still haven't found what you're looking for', this could be the year to make your move. Figures from recruitment group Ambition showed that accountants who moved jobs last year received average incremental salary increases of between 11.4 per cent and 16 per cent - pretty impressive considering that the average pay increases for the year were about 4per cent. 'In 2006, the activity has been based mainly at the middle management level. In 2007, we anticipate more movement in the senior end of the market. Overall next year looks positive,' said Guy Day, managing director of Ambition for Asia. Recruitment in the banking sector was also active last year, and recruitment agencies agree that this trend will continue at least into the second half of this year. 'All major banks are still looking for experienced dealers in equity and capital markets and experienced private bankers. Banks will also need more people with law degrees to help deal with ever increasing documentation,' said Alison Chang Wai-man, managing director of COREsearch. Juliana Li, principal consultant at Projob21, said the private banking and wealth management sectors would expand rapidly because of the increasing number of wealthy people living here. 'The economic success of China has brought about an increasing number of high net-worth individuals in Hong Kong, which in turn has led to an increase in the recruitment of private bankers and investment advisers, and there are no signs of this slowing down at the start of 2007,' Ms Li said. 'Nowadays, investors are not looking for plain vanilla equities, they are looking for structured derivatives and hedge funds. As the investment market grows, more asset management and hedge fund companies are attracted here. 'Hong Kong is particularly attractive to these companies because of its low taxes and well established and reliable infrastructure.' Alex Chan Wai-hong, director of recruitment firm Human Sources, similarly believed that the wealth management sector would continue to expand and banks would continue to recruit strongly in this area throughout this year. He said another growth area for banks would be in the services they provided to both small and medium-sized businesses and middle market enterprises. 'While different banks have different definitions, as a guide, small and medium enterprises have credit facilities of up to HK$10million, whereas middle market enterprises have credit facilities of between HK$10million and HK$100million,' Mr Chan said. 'To cater for the needs of this growing market, banks will be looking for candidates with three years' experience and solid skills in preparing credit proposals. All the major banks will be looking for people who can draft credit proposals independently. 'As part of the selection process, candidates should expect to sit a credit skills test before making it to the interview stage,' he said. With further pay increases in the banking and finance sectors expected, what can candidates do to tap into these lucrative areas? Many employers use the phrase 'there are not enough good quality candidates out there'. But good quality is subjective and depends on the job requirements, and there are a few basics that candidates should take into account when applying for a job and attending an interview. 'In banking, the basic requirement is to be presentable. Candidates need to be able to demonstrate that they are analytical and can present well. Interpersonal skills are crucial at the interview stage,' Mr Chan said. 'Don't do a job for the sake of money,' advised Ms Chang. 'If you want to progress and take yourself to another level, you have to have passion and energy and enjoy doing what you are doing. Ms Chang said candidates should also not waste their time doing an MBA just for the sake of it. 'You have to think outside the box, think [about] what knowledge you need to make it to the next stage. It no longer works that an MBA will automatically lead to better pay,' she said. And while some specialist roles in banking would continue to require a finance background, this would not be the case for all positions, she said. 'For many roles, personality and attitude are more important.' Similarly, Mr Day said chasing money was not the key to success, and that too much job hopping was not recommended.