Jobseekers, employers in Hong Kong’s financial services sector have kicked off 2024 on cautious note: recruiters

Jobseekers, employers in Hong Kong’s financial services sector have kicked off 2024 on cautious note: recruiters

Jobseekers, employers in Hong Kong’s financial services sector have kicked off 2024 on cautious note: recruiters

Hong Kong’s financial services industry employed 269,700 people in 2022, dropping about 3 per cent from the previous year, according to the Census and Statistics Department. Moreover, equity markets in Hong Kong and mainland China are among the worst performers globally this year amid concerns about China’s economy. Stock gauges in the city and the mainland have fallen by more than 7 per cent.

UBS Group is reportedly looking to cut 90 jobs across its private and investment banking units in Asia, mainly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, according to a Bloomberg report. Reuters reported that Bank of America in January announced around 20 job cuts in Asia, mainly affecting Hong Kong-based bankers and those who work on China deals.

On the deal front, Hong Kong – the world’s top initial public offering destination in seven out of the past 15 years – fell to eighth place last year, a two-decade low, as 68 companies raised US$5.9 billion, according to Refinitiv data. China recorded 5,156 deals in 2023, with a combined value of US$301 billion, a nine-year low in terms of deal volume, and a third straight year of declines in volume.

Family office numbers in Hong Kong could surpass Singapore ‘in a few more years’

“Many jobseekers are concerned about job security because of redundancies and uncertain market conditions,” said Elaine Lam, managing director at Robert Half Hong Kong.

“Companies in Hong Kong are still looking for talent to replace underperforming staff with more experienced workers, with some businesses seeing now as an opportunity to attract top talent by providing job security.”

The market currently has some good candidates who are not working due to lay-offs from last year, according to Olga Yung, managing director of Michael Page Hong Kong.

“Candidates are interested in looking out [for jobs], especially those working in financial institutions with higher retrenchment. It is common for candidates to seek platforms offering more stability, in the event there are more lay-offs,” Yung said.

Some areas in the sector will be hotter than others in the current environment.

For example, buy side firms are looking for fundraising talent and are setting up high-performing investment teams as high interest rates have pushed money back into banks, Robert Half’s Lam said.

Credit Suisse to make 80 bankers redundant in its Hong Kong office

Client servicing professionals on the buy side are also in demand. “The fundraising landscape is challenging at present,” Robert Walters’ Corcoran said. “Buy side firms not only need talent to raise funds but also to retain investors, ensuring that investors’ needs are met promptly and efficiently.”

Another hot jobs area is the family-offices space, as the city’s government is offering various incentives to attract wealthy people from the Greater Bay Area, Southeast Asia and the Middle East to set up family offices in the city. The move is expected to bring in capital and create demand for yuan products.

“Thanks to the big push from the Hong Kong government, we are seeing increased job activity in family offices,” Robert Half’s Lam said. “Some people view family offices as having more job security because these institutions run their own money and are less exposed to external factors regarding investment decisions.”

It remains to be seen how the job market will perform after the Lunar New Year holiday. However, some recruiters are cautiously optimistic.

“We’ve been in a down cycle in the past 18 months,” Robert Walters’ Corcoran said. “I’m hopeful that things will pick up in the second half of the year, but we also have to be realistic about where we are.”

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