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Market growing for hedge fund marketers

As Hong Kong hedge funds grow, talent is becoming as scarce as gold dust - and as valuable.

The hottest area is the front-end marketing side, says a recruiter at an international recruitment firm. Local talent shortages mean that staff are being shipped in from overseas.

"We are definitely not going to find this kind of guy in Hong Kong. We are looking at the East and West coasts of the US and Europe for this," he says.

"Lots of people want to move to hedge funds, but getting the right person is difficult," confirms Christopher Sykes, managing director for Greater China at Edward W. Kelly & Partners.

Marketers are hot because many Hong Kong hedge funds are in their nascency, making gathering assets and generating fees all-important. By comparison, demand for operational and technical expertise is said to be considerably less.

"This is the same as anywhere else, so it doesn't need special skills. Fund managers are also pretty easy to get," says the recruiter.

Employers are incredibly secretive about hedge fund compensation packages, with recruiters under strict orders not to speak to the press, even in general terms. In most cases, recruiters are not even privy to the package their candidates will be getting and are retained on a fixed-fee basis only.

We did, however, manage to elicit some basic information from our sources: top professionals hired to head a new hedge fund in Hong Kong for a major brand can reputedly earn US$2m to US$3m a year, but this "varies enormously".

Recruiters say that the compensation is far more risky than the package offered in conventional i-banking.

"People are looking for natural risk-takers, people comfortable and confident about taking risk," says one.

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