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Gilt-edged private bankers at a premium

Published on Friday, 06 Dec 2013
Christopher Aukland

Hong Kong is one of the premier wealth management centres in the world, and Asia's largest private banking market. Moreover, with the Asia-Pacific region positioned as the fastest growing wealth management market in the world, Hong Kong's private banking industry has seen robust growth in the last couple of years and this is set to continue into 2014.

In Hong Kong, Chinese institutions and Asian banks are pushing into the highly lucrative private banking market, and competition for private bankers has intensified immensely across all areas. Employers are looking for professionals with a strong academic background, relevant professional qualifications, strong exposure to the China market and Putonghua language skills. Although a level of uncertainty remains over the strength of the global economy, hiring activity within the private banking sector is expected to grow over the next 12 months, and the requirement for attracting and retaining the best talent will continue.

Employers in Hong Kong looking to attract and retain quality talent will need to offer potential employees opportunities for career development, competitive remuneration packages and improved work-life balance initiatives. For an external move, the average percentage salary increase that employers are willing to offer for most financial services professionals will range from 12 to 20 per cent, depending on the company's performance and the particular skill set of the individual. Experts in the areas of wealth management and transaction banking can expect to be awarded increases of 20 per cent when changing employers. Bonuses that are typically offered to employees in this sector are between two and four months' salary but bonus levels will vary greatly depending on the job type and the performance of the individual, as well as the organisation's performance.

With hiring in wealth management and banking remaining firm, there is also a healthy demand for HR professionals in the financial services area. As a result of the global financial crisis, there is an increased emphasis among employers in the financial services industry on achieving maximum cost efficiency for every role. Within HR, this has translated into a strong demand for HR business partners, as well as organisational development and employee engagement professionals, as banks and financial services organisations look to hire experts to tackle specific business issues and retain and develop the company's best employees.

Employers within banks are particularly focused on making sure they have identified the best person in the market and are bringing on board a professional that meets all of their requirements, as they are under scrutiny when making hiring decisions and there is little room for compromise.

Financial services organisations are often looking to identify the more strategically minded business partners, hence the demand for HR business partners with a strategic skill set.

Learning and development has also been an area where professionals are in demand as employers look to create a more engaged and productive workforce.

Talent management is indeed on every organisation's agenda as they look to retain their best people. In financial services, this has particularly been the case in the insurance area, which has experienced the highest hiring activity over the past year.

There has also been a shift in employees' mindsets with regards to compensation, and while remuneration is still a primary motivator, it is not the only consideration. There is now increasing focus among employees on the working environment, the organisation's culture, workplace flexibility and work-life balance.

From the employer perspective, in an effort to attract high quality staff, some may offer international rotation programmes, career development opportunities and competitive remuneration packages, as well as improved work-life balance initiatives, while HR departments are putting more focus on developing future leaders of the organisation and in improving staff retention rates.

Christopher Aukland has 11 years of recruitment experience in both the UK and Asia, and is Regional Director of Michael Page in Hong Kong. Michael Page is part of PageGroup, one of the world’s leading recruitment companies operating in more than 150 offices in over 30 countries worldwide.

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