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New city banking roles may mean jobs bonanza

While yuan-related banking activities featured prominently on the agenda at the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers' (HKIB) annual banking conference, delegates also heard that developments in other areas of the sector could lead to a range of promising career prospects.

Strategies are underway to position Hong Kong as the region's premier private-banking hub. Eddie Yue, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), believes that, similar to the rapid development of Hong Kong's yuan business, the rise in wealth on the mainland can act as a growth driver for the local private bank sector.

"As wealth across Asia continues to grow, particularly on the mainland, Hong Kong-based private banks need to be ready to seize opportunities," Yue told nearly 600 delegates, including about 80 from the mainland, at the conference.

He didn't explain, though, how the city plans to resolve a chronic shortage of experienced relationship managers and other key professionals.

Speaking at a previous HKIB event, Norman Chan, the HKMA's chief executive, said that the world perceived the standard of Hong Kong's financial services based on the quality of the people delivering those services. He also said that upgrading Putonghua skills is a prerequisite to fully engaging with mainland private-banking clients and providing them with the services they need.

According to studies by Deloitte and Oxford Economics, the number of millionaires on the mainland and Hong Kong is estimated to reach 3.7 million by 2020 with accumulated wealth of US$14 trillion.

The fund-management segment in Hong Kong is another area prime for expansion, according to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. He told this year's conference delegates that, with most of Europe and the US in the financial doldrums, institutional investors are turning their attention to Asia to achieve their investment needs.

Tsang outlined how Hong Kong would continue to position itself as the launch pad for global hedge funds and financial institutions exploring business opportunities in Greater China.

"These institutions need people on the ground, and Hong Kong, as a key financial hub in Asia, is well-poised to serve their needs. Non-local investment now accounts for about 50 per cent of the total investment of funds managed in Hong Kong," he said.

He added that government and regulatory authorities were committed to maintaining Hong Kong's financial-friendly operator environment in order to attract a broader range of financial institutions.