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Asian finance hiring at record levels

A veteran financial markets recruiter in Asia says the continent is the place to be right now.

"Hong Kong is hugely busy," says Mike Brennan, global managing director for recruitment firm Alexander Mann Financial Markets. "I've been working the Asian markets for six or seven years now, and I have never seen it like this."

Brennan says hiring in the derivatives area is particularly strong, but that recruitment is buoyant across investment banking in general. "People are very aware now of the opportunities in Asia, and are more confident of their ability to weather the shocks - it's a more mature market than during the Asian crisis, and less of an unknown quantity."

Lehman Brothers pinpointed Asia as its fastest growing market when it announced its results a few weeks ago, and said it planned to add thousands of jobs in the region. Jeff Edwards, chief financial officer at Merrill Lynch recently said the continent offers 'terrific opportunities to grow.' JPMorgan Cazenove and Barclays Capital are also building their Asian presence.

Brennan says the enthusiasm for all things Asian is driving up pay. "There's a lot of wage inflation in Asia right now," he says. "Pay in Hong Kong and Singapore is still below New York and London, but you also need to consider the fact that taxes are lower."

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