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Fighting over fixed income sales pros

Domestic high-yield, structured interest rate and structured credit specialists are hot property in Hong Kong's employment market.

Driven by demand from Greater China, the latter two sectors are particularly overheated, says Christopher Lewis, an independent Hong Kong recruitment consultant.

Demand for fixed income traders is distinctly tepid by comparison, with trading still largely done out of Tokyo offices.

"The biggest demand in Hong Kong at present is for candidates in sales and distribution-related capacities. Hong Kong is still viewed as primarily a distribution hub for Asia ex-Japan," says Lewis.

He says good sales people with five to 10 years' experience could be looking at a package of US$700k to US$900k (including bonus), assuming they're making US$10m to US$12m for the bank.

On the high-yield side, Lewis says there are vacancies for 'originators' - specialists capable of winning underwriting mandates for their banks.

"With the risk tolerance of investors going inexorably up, the investment banks are looking to source further high-yield deals," he says.

One JPMorgan executive agrees that local debt market specialists are getting more popular on the back of strengthening Asian currencies.

"In the past, investors would focus almost solely on G3 (hard currency) bonds, but the appetite for yield combined with rising Asian currencies has made this field more exciting."

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