The Insider: Here’s my short and not so sweet view of the Hong Kong employment market

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Stormy Hong Kong

Gloomy outlook for Hong Kong fund managers

Hong Kong-based investment professionals face strong headwinds because of the sharp deterioration in global market equities since May last year. Hong Kong’s own market has been battered by international macro economic uncertainties, which have chipped away at investor and market-participant confidence.

I met a headhunter recently, who had this to say about the state of play: “The sharp deterioration in the Hong Kong market has forced both large and small investment banks to cut headcounts in order to fulfill their cost reduction schemes. Both buy-side and sell-side clients want to scale back their operations in Hong Kong amid continuing market volatilities.”

The recruitment professional said the market is “swamped” with CVs as the whole industry is suffering from global economic weakness. “We receive all levels of resumes, ranging from managing directors to junior staff.”

You can trace the start of the redundancy season to around October when New York-based Perry Capital announced it would axe more than 30 employees in Hong Kong. And as we all know, numerous international and regional investment banks have revealed cost-cutting programmes for this year.

Compared with 2008 and 2009, jobs are now being slashed at a slower and quieter pace, but I actually think the overall effect of the current malaise may be even bigger than at the height of the financial crisis. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was one of the worst-performing indices in Asia in 2011. Trading turnover slowed to the record low level last seen after Lehman brothers collapsed in late 2008.

On a brighter note, job seekers should consider promoting themselves to the emerging group of Chinese brokers and fund managers who have the financial capacity to expand their footprint in Hong Kong. And don’t forget: please brush up your Pu Ton Hua before your interview.

The Insider is a financial services professional in Hong Kong and the views expresse are his, not those of eFinancialCareers. If you would like to write a blog about your own career, please email