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Professional job opportunities across Asia Pacific region rise 5% year-on-year


&middot         Job vacancies rose by 5% between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014

&middot         Job vacancies rose 7% from Q1 2014 to Q2 2014

&middot         Number of candidates actively seeking employment was down 4% from Q1 2014 to            Q2 2014

The Q2 2014 Asia Pacific Employment Monitor recorded a 7% increase in financial services jobs vacancies – up from 12660 vacancies in Q1 2014 to 13576 in Q2 2014.  Yearly figures also indicate that hiring continues to move in a positive direction, with job opportunities up 5% in Q2 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, when there were 12883 roles registered. On the candidate side, the market has slipped slightly from 34487 job seekers in Q1 to 33033 job seekers in Q2.

The Financial Services recruitment market in the Asia Pacific region has shown definite signs of improvement in recent months, largely driven by a resurgence in front office banking recruitment, changes in compliance and regulatory demands and standards, organisational changes and restructuring as well as IT implementations and updates, particularly in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.  Nevertheless the mood is still cautious, with most organisations unwilling to commit to major increases in headcount.  Persuading job-seeking candidates to move can be challenging if they are well looked-after by their current employer, which reflects a slight decrease in new candidates coming into the market compared to the last quarter.

Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Asia Pacific commented on the following markets which Morgan McKinley operates in:


There is a lingering preference for consultancy or contract employment, though we have seen a trend towards converting temporary hires to permanent staff, so for candidates who are immediately available, a contract or temporary role may now be a good stepping stone into securing long-term employment.

As the economy picks up there will be a significant talent pool available to hiring organisations. OurAustralia Career Progression Surveyindicated that around half of those polled said they were unfulfilled in their current roles. The majority (more than 60%) cited career progression as the main motive for changing jobs, with only a small number (less than 16%) citing salary. However, the survey also indicated the risk that top talent might be lost to overseas markets. More than two thirds (68%) of the respondents would consider an opportunity overseas with Asia (40.6%) being the destination of choice.

In the IT sphere the drive to accelerate applications development, for example the integration of mobile apps into core banking, has seen the inexorable rise of Agile methodologies. We recently hosted an event on the topic andyou can read the full report here.


There is growing economic confidence as global markets recover, which will assist China’s international exports and, in turn, domestic production.  Yet many worries remain around long-term financial uncertainty.   Additionally there is a general increase in risk awareness, all of which contributes to a more buoyant recruitment market, mainly focused on compliance and risk at the middle management level. For such positions, candidates need not only good technical knowledge, but also the ability to work effectively with non-compliance specialists  - a swifter and more effective way to add genuine business value.

Given the shortage of skilled talent in some product classes, hiring organisations often look overseas, mainly hiring Hong Kong nationals or Chinese staff currently working abroad.  Due to  market differences in what these candidates might currently be earning, those organisations approaching this pool of talent should expect to face high salary demands.  

The issue of  employee retention is a cause for concern in China’s financial services sector as professionals  frequently change jobs, especially Generation Y candidates.

Hong Kong

Improved local business conditions, spurred by the gradual recovery of the global economy, have injected more confidence into the Hong Kong market as a whole, but this is not yet fully reflected in the financial services sector, where recruitment is still largely focused on replacement headcount. However, we have seen an increase in new hires in some disciplines.

These include Risk & Compliance and Internal Audit this is partly driven by the fear of high profile internal control failures, increasing threat of fraud, and other financial crime, as well as a general increased awareness of the importance of effective Risk Management. Regulatory risk, credit risk and liquidity risk are the main growth areas. Many organisations are currently pushing through organisational changes, including increased globalisation of functions, and there is an ever-increasing legal, regulatory and compliance burden to deal with as a result.

As reported in theFinancial Times,we observed that hiring in the asset management industry has been on the increase recently. This is partly because the mutual recognition of funds by Hong Kong and China is seen as a potential driver of expansion rather than an opportunity that deserves immediate action.  The initiative, which is still awaiting approval from China, would allow Hong Kong-domiciled and authorised funds to be sold into China and vice versa.


Japan has been slow to emerge from the economic downturn and revised its economic growth forecast for 2014 slightly downwards in the second quarter of 2014. The Bank of Japan meanwhile launched a monetary stimulus programme aimed at wrenching the country out of a long phase of deflation.

Despite this, the financial services sector in Japan is experiencing a strong recovery since the global financial crisis as we have witnessed operations roles flooding into the market and a high demand for Equity Front Office professionals.

Moreover, with  stringent and ever-changing  requirements from regulators in Japan and overseas, banks will need to strengthen their risk and control function which means we expect healthy levels of hiring.  As banks increasingly regard risk management as their “first line of defence”, and this combined with the talent shortage, this provides great opportunities for operational risk professionals who can demand higher wages.

Meanwhile the implementation of Basel III since 1 April 2013 requires banks to strengthen their capital requirements. In Tokyo this has not translated into increased in hiring within Liquidity Management or Treasury Finance as it has within other APAC hubs however it has created a demand for Financial Risk type accountants focused on capital adequacy.

One surprising and welcome trend has been an increase in headcount in Credit Risk within the Corporate Banking sector. The growth in Cash Management and Trade Finance products since last year has prompted increased headcounts for Credit Risk professionals to support relationship managers.


In Singapore the outlook is  more positive than a year ago, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry maintaining its growth forecast for 2014 of between 2 to 4%.

Financial services professionals are well placed to benefit from the positive outlook with Singapore maintaining its position as the regional hub for the sector, and also with local banking businesses gaining confidence. The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) has created a very favourable environment for local candidates at all levels, especially in core banking functions which will come into effect next month.

We have also observed an increase in the demand for contractors across Financial Services. Middle and back office positions are becoming more reliant on contracting for replacement hires, though sometimes as an interim measure before offshoring, as banks seek greater flexibility in staffing.  

The recent conclusion of an agreement between the USA and Singapore on FATCA compliance has further consolidated Singapore’s reputation as a “clean” hub for wealth management. Bankers now predict that Singapore could eventually overtake Switzerland as the world’s largest wealth management hub.  

This year has also seen the strongest front office banking recruitment market since the global financial crisis and we expect a resurgent banking recruitment market in Singapore with greater gains expected in the next quarter and beyond.  This improvement is driven primarily by the positive economic situation in the two of the largest financial hubs: the US and the UK.  

There is a war on talent across existing and new entrants to the market, particularly at the analyst and associate level. Investment bankers with broad product coverage experience (M&A, ECM, DCM and structured debt) are highly sought after, as are junior to mid-level bankers with specialist industry skills, in particular covering the Oil & Gas and FIG sectors.


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