Chinese banks in Hong Kong are trying to recruit more strategists to help reshape their approaches to emerging technology, but they face strong competition for talent from both investment banks and large tech firms.
Bank of China, for example, is now hiring a Hong Kong-based “fintech specialist” who will act as a bank-wide internal consultant and tech advocate, providing “expert advice” on industry best practices, and applying the “latest fintech” to new projects, according to the bank’s careers site.
The skills needed for this senior job, which demands at least 10 years’ experience, are not of the business-as-usual banking technology kind. BoC is calling for expertise in emerging technology often associated with fintech startups, including blockchain and robo advisory. And it wants someone who can show the “benefits of introducing new technologies or products to senior management”.
BoC isn’t the only Chinese bank taking on people to help with their emerging technology strategies in Hong Kong. At the other end of the seniority scale, CITIC has recently hired ‘fintech trainees’ under a one-year internship organised by the Fintech Career Accelerator Scheme (FCAS), a programme involving several banks which was initiated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute.
As at BoC, these research and strategy roles focus on leading-edge tech. Interns, “engage in original research towards proof of concept prototypes in various fintech domains such as biometrics authentication, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation”.
While FCAS is helping to attract students into Chinese banks, recruitment is more difficult at other levels, say recruiters. “A few Chinese banks are trying to hire tech strategists, but it can be hard for them to get talent,” says Vince Natteri, director of Hong Kong tech search firm Pinpoint Asia. “They’re competing not just with startups, but also with investment banks, tech firms and consulting firms.”
Natteri says a Chinese bank “usually isn’t appealing to a candidate wanting to do something creative with new technologies in the fintech sector”. “The culture and hierarchy usually doesn’t suit,” he adds. “Unless the bank or one of its departments is run by a younger guy who is familiar with setting up an environment that is conducive to this sort of fintech-innovation role, it’s going to be a hard search for a Chinese firm.”
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