Robert Walters Half Yearly Market Update H2 2011

Robert Walters
2011-08-08 12:50 690

Increased hiring activity across professional services, luxury and tourism sectors

HONG KONG, Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- The Robert Walters Half Yearly Market Update H2 2011 found that there was a shortage of experienced mid to senior level candidates within the first half of the year.

"74% of the candidates who received job offers also received multiple offers or were counter-offered by their organisation. There was a surge in demand for technical HR professionals with the ability to focus on attracting and retaining talent," Matthew Bennett, Managing Director of Robert Walters Hong Kong said.

"While the professional services, retail, logistics and manufacturing industries were very active, middle market investment and corporate banks, boutique and smaller brokerage firms as well as hedge funds and custodial providers have been the most dynamic within the financial services space. We saw many organisations within the financial services industry outsourcing their contract payroll and recruitment functions, which in turn increased the demand for contractors as they provide an alternative to headcount restrictions."

"The second half of the year will likely see a moderation of activity as a result of mainland China tightening its monetary policies and an expected slowdown in the re-export market. However, we expect the professional services, luxury and tourism sectors in Hong Kong to continue to expand."

Some of the sector-specific findings for Hong Kong include:

Accounting & Finance

  • Candidates in demand included business partners, tax professionals (with particular expertise in PRC tax and transfer pricing), system integrators and business planners/analysts
  • Retail & luxury and manufacturing industries have been very active in hiring mid to senior level candidates
  • Candidates looking to move are seeking salary increments of between 15 - 20%

Financial Services (Front Office)

  • Constant demand for candidates in transaction banking with strong cash and trade backgrounds (15 - 25% increment )
  • High demand for corporate and institutional relationship managers with strong credit skills and experience in multiple products, as well as an established client portfolio (15 - 20% increment)
  • Consumer and retail banking continued its local expansion through hiring strong relationship managers (15 - 20% increment)
  • Investment banking hires dropped off significantly after Q1 - talk of redundancies in Q3

Risk Management

  • Credit risk remains a priority due to issues in defaults and liquidity
  • With increased cross-border lending to emerging nations, credit risk professionals who have relevant experience are particularly valued (15 - 20% increment )
  • Strongest demand for candidates with 7 - 10 years' experience across all areas
  • Hiring will need to be justified by revenue growth and profits

Governance: Compliance/ Audit/ Operational Risk

  • With tightening regulations and new changes by the regulatory bodies, compliance roles will remain in demand (15 - 20% increment)
  • Continued demand for operational risk and internal audit professionals (15 - 20% increment)
  • Candidates with strong product and process skill sets remain well sought-after


  • Future hiring is likely to push towards the more senior end of the market - to serve as liaisons to deal with complex finance issues
  • Niche skill sets in product control and business finance will remain in demand
  • Changes in reporting standards will increase headcount requirements and these skills sets are difficult to come by
  • Other areas in strong demand include product control (15 - 20% increment), financial/management reporting and tax (15 - 20% increment)

Operations and Project Management

  • Preference to hire experienced candidates with a blend of client servicing and operations experience (15 - 20% increment)
  • Off-shoring and outsourcing remain a key topic with many banks. This has led to a decline in process-driven roles based in Hong Kong
  • Alternative finance and trade finance have and will continue to be areas with the highest recruitment activity (15 - 20% increment)
  • Change management continues to be a hot topic although costs have become an issue in 2011 (15% - 20% increment)

Human Resources and Business Support

  • High demand for technically skilled HR business partners, recruiters' and C&B professionals
  • HR generalists with project experience were highly sought-after as were talent managers
  • Banking, retail and IT sectors were the most active although all sectors were hiring
  • Salary expectations averaged around 20 - 25% increment in the financial services space and 15 - 20% increment in the commercial space for candidates looking to move

Information Technology

  • After a slowdown in IT recruitment in Q1 2011, the market picked up in Q2 with a demand for developers and BAs
  • Banks were still looking to revamp and improve trading and middle office technology, but continued to keep a hold on costs
  • Strong demand for contractors with project management experience within the IT consultancy space
  • Regional offices are expected to expand IT teams to service an ever increasing workforce
  • Salary demands from IT candidates ranged between 10 - 15% for the financial services space and 10 - 15% within the commercial sector


  • In the financial services sector, hiring was predominantly in areas such as derivatives, corporate finance and ISDA negotiators
  • Private practice has been the most active with US firms looking to gain a foothold into Asia
  • 2011 has witnessed an increased demand for M&A, corporate finance and IPO candidates with 2 to 6 years' PQE
  • With an increase in listings, we have seen a significant demand for company secretaries in 2011
  • Salary expectations averaged between : PP 15% - 20%, FS 15% , C&I 10% - 15%

Sales & Marketing

  • Continued demand for BD and management consultants within the professional services space for mid to senior level candidates (10 - 15% salary increment )
  • There was a demand for social media and digital marketing professionals (15 - 20% increment) as well as senior account managers (15 - 20% increment )
  • Retail & luxury sector remained strong and candidates with China exposure within retail operations and brand management were of interest (15 - 25% increment)
  • The IT & T industry was on the look out for strong BD skills especially within the commercial and government sectors (10 - 15% increment)
  • There was a demand in financial services for mid to senior level candidates in corporate access, events and product marketing (15 -20% increment)

Supply Chain and Procurement

  • Procurement within financial services picked up significantly in the second quarter and this is expected to continue as banks look to save costs (15 - 20% increment)
  • There was an emergence of roles focusing on risk and vendor management as procurement departments continued to evolve into more specialised units
  • Specific demand in the third party logistics and freight forwarding industry for key account managers and senior sales professionals (10  - 15% increment)
  • After CNY, we observed an increase in the number of sourcing hubs being set up in Hong Kong (10 - 15% increment)

Contract Recruitment

  • Growing trend of recruitment process outsourcing ( RPO ) within the financial services industry
  • Pool of experienced candidates decreased due to the demand for top-tier candidates for permanent roles
  • HR, business support and IT contractors are in highest demand to cover for staff on maternity leave or project work
  • With the uncertainty in the market over the next six months and issues around permanent headcount, the contract market is expected to grow

To download a copy of the Robert Walters Half Yearly market updates, please visit:
Banking & Financial Services:
Commerce & Industry:

About Robert Walters

Robert Walters Plc is one of the world's largest professional recruitment consultancies with 45 offices in 21 countries. The Hong Kong office specialises in placing candidates on a permanent or contract basis in the following specialities: accountancy & finance, banking & financial services, legal, business support, human resources, information technology, sales & marketing, supply chain, procurement & logistics.

For more information about Robert Walters Hong Kong, visit

To download the PDF version of the Robert Walters Global Salary Survey 2011, visit

To view the latest Robert Walters Asia Job Index report, please visit

Fiona Cheong
Mary Lai
Source: Robert Walters