The decline in global financial sector employment opportunities has not spared Asia. Yet, while front-line vacancies have fallen as businesses stagnate, some functions are in strong demand.
Overall, advertised jobs dropped 14% year-on-year in the region with average postings declining from 2,871 in the second quarter 2011 to 2,464 in the same period 2012, according to the latest quarterly Jobs Barometer from eFinancialCareers, a leading global career site network for professionals working in the investment banking, asset management and securities industries.
On the bright side, there are “signs of stability returning to the market”, with the declining trend easing. In fact, there was a 2% quarter-on-quarter increase in opportunities from the first to second quarter. Postings in Hong Kong were flat, while Singapore and Australia experienced slight improvements of 3% and 4% respectively.
Banks have retrenched since 2008, and staff have also been relocated to more active locations, including Asia-Pacific. In general, external recruitment has tailed off in sales, trading and investment banking divisions, while greater emphasis has been made building up less glamorous departments.
“Burgeoning sectors such as information services, asset management and operations will continue to be bright spots of growth in the steady job market,” noted George McFerran, managing director, Asia-Pacific, eFinancialCareers.
For instance, postings for information services roles in the region increased by 76% year-on-year in the second quarter (and by 26% quarter-on-quarter), driven by a growing stress on risk management and compliance due to fluctuating markets and a more complex regulatory environment.
In addition, asset management and operations showed quarter-on-quarter growth of 28% and 15% respectively. In Hong Kong, the asset management sector has benefited from the expansion of renminbi funds, with experienced, China-focused portfolio managers in demand.
Indeed, “some buy-side firms are opportunistically taking on bankers keen for a career change into a potentially more stable, less hierarchical environment”, states the Jobs Barometer report.
There has also been a “partial recovery” in operations recruitment, despite continued off-shoring of roles into lower-cost countries such as India and the Philippines.
“Much of this increase was seasonal with people moving after receiving their bonuses while back-office hiring was mainly driven by a need to replace essential employees rather than by new growth.”
Looking ahead, eFinancialCareers expects recruitment to pick up in sectors that focus on China. There should be further demand renminbi-based fund management, custody experts with experience of cross-border trade with mainland China and bilingual professionals who understand the local regulatory environment.
Furthermore, “China’s financial sector will suffer from skill shortages and scarcity of experienced professionals in job functions such as relationship management, compliance and information technology,” said the report.