Reports suggest Hong Kong could become the world's financial capital in terms of jobs
Many jobs expected to be on "buy side" of industry, in asset and wealth fund management
Analysts expect more job volatility on "sale side," which includes investment banking
Local knowledge, language skills increasingly important in Asian market
If that corner office at a financial firm on New York’s Wall Street or at London’s Canary Wharf has been illusory, then a Victoria Harbor view from Hong Kong’s skyscraper skyline may be the place to find yourself in a few years.
That’s because the Asian city looks set to become the center of the Earth when it comes to jobs in the financial sector.
CEBR, the London-based economics consultancy, recently forecast Hong Kong will have more financial services jobs than New York or London by 2016, with some 262,000 positions. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) also gives its endorsement, saying Hong Kong will be the world’s premier financial job center by 2017, with 275,000 positions.
Believable or bizarre?
“It’s three years from now, but it’s believable,” says Brian Lim, director of Value Search Asia, a Hong Kong-based boutique headhunting firm focused on the banking and financial sectors. “Asian opportunities are going to be a lot more stable. (The employment market) has been slow because of the European and U.S. economic crises – not because of major issues from our side.”
Lim says he does expect continued job volatility on the so-called “sale side” of the financial industry, which includes investment banking, because of sensitivity to market gyrations. But he already sees more hiring on the less-market sensitive “buy side,” which includes asset and wealth fund management.
But other search firms find recent job market forecasts far-fetched.
“I think it’s bizarre,” says Jonathon Hollands, Managing Director of Carraway Group, a financial and corporate headhunting firm headquartered in Hong Kong. As the global economy has slowed over the past few years “Hong Kong is shedding jobs.”
This past September, HSBC finished its planned Hong Kong layoffs by eliminating 3,000 staff from its workforce in the city – part of a global restructuring to cut an astounding 30,000 jobs around the world.
Earlier this month, Barclays announced it will cut up to 2,000 jobs with many of those losses coming out of Asia and Europe. Hollands expects even more job losses in Hong Kong are “still to come.”