DEMAND for finance executives has soared during 1994, but the traditional round of job-swapping that characterises the lead up to the New Year will be curtailed as a result of the stock market's disastrous performance, an employment expert said. Alfred Chown, managing director of Executive Leasing (EL), a search and selection consultancy, said research revealed that the demand for financial professionals increased 154 per cent compared to last year. But Mr Chown said demand for finance executives will taper off next month following recent falls on the stock market. The end of the calendar year has become the most popular time to swap jobs in the financial services industry as most bonuses are paid in December, leading to re-shuffles across the industry. Year-long pressure on fee income and the prospect of further market falls will delay the annual round of hiring, EL's research revealed. But the lean times would be shortlived, Mr Chown said. 'Demand for finance executives has been high all year and vacancies could grow substantially as tenders, such as the new airport terminal building and the Mass Transit Railway Corp's $34 billion airport railway, are let,' he said. Mr Chown said Hong Kong's financial industry could also rely on continued economic developments in China for further growth. 'We anticipate that as more and more Foreign Invested Enterprises in the PRC fully come on stream over 1995, demand for financial executives will escalate. Currently, Hong Kong remains the major source of executive-level personnel for foreign-invested enterprises in the PRC,' he said. 'Significant year-on-year rises were recorded in information technology executive positions, with a 76 per cent rise, followed by marketing executives at 40 per cent,' he said. The news was not all good. Demand for management jobs and engineering positions fell during 1994, but both sectors are expected to recover strongly in 1995. Mr Chown said overall demand for executives across Hong Kong had grown by 15 per cent, indicating the continued strength of the local economy.