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Chinese companies to drive Hong Kong’s hiring growth
If you expected this year to be all doom and gloom for Hong Kong’s hiring climate, I have some good news. This year, hiring growth in Hong Kong is expected to stay resilient, fuelled largely by the rapid expansion of Chinese-headquartered conglomerates and financial services firms.
In recent years, such organisations — usually property developers, banks and buy-side firms — have been aggressively growing their footprint in the city, and using their Hong Kong-based businesses as springboards for international growth opportunities.
Already, we are seeing an increase in recruitment activity for senior operations specialists with securities backgrounds as well as research and investment analysts with native Mandarin skills, among other roles. The majority of these companies have started to offer prospective candidates very attractive remuneration packages that will be materially better than previous years.
On the foreign multinational front, we expect hiring activity to continue to be fairly stable, albeit lower than peak years — such as 2015 — as companies continue to battle with their headquarters for headcount approval. Redundancy rounds within multinationals are now mostly complete.
To move past these difficulties, one alternative talent solution that employers have been turning to is contract employment, which does not take up headcount allowances. Currently, one in two companies (52%) in Hong Kong have contract staff on their teams, as we found out in the 2017 Michael Page Hong Kong Salary and Employment Outlook. This number is set to increase.
The fintech sector is expected to grow exponentially as technology and financial institutions try to create user-friendly approaches that support faster execution and payment transactions. More companies, especially those in the insurance sector, will also be investing in their digital functions and have shifted their budgets accordingly to accommodate this new direction. Consequently, there will be an increase in digital headcount in the near future.
Clients we partner with are now seeking new hires with relatively novel skills, such as app development, social media and marketing. Demand is strong as Hong Kong, due to its proximity to China, is viewed as a strategic launchpad for a number of start-ups. Some of our clients who were first movers in the digital space are thus enjoying the benefits of foresight. Their digital talent pool has grown more organically than later adopters of digital strategies, who are grappling with the high cost of putting together digital teams.
As we move ahead into 2017, my team and I expect to face a positive year despite some elements of caution. The top unknown factor is ‘when’ and ‘to what degree’ the global financial services sector will bounce back. But what’s positive is that, as seasoned recruiters, we have seen the financial services sector cycle many times over and know that when it bounces back, it will do so with an aggressive lift in Hong Kong’s recruitment activity.