“I could feel the tear gas”: banks cancel Hong Kong job interviews amid protests

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“I could feel the tear gas”: banks cancel Hong Kong job interviews amid protests

It hasn’t been a great week for job seekers in Hong Kong’s banking sector. The protests against the government’s controversial extradition bill have led to banks and recruitment firms postponing job interviews, which is delaying crucial hiring decisions.

As the protests grew in intensity during the middle of the week – and police started using tear gas and rubber bullets – finance recruiters were forced to hastily rearrange interviews.

“Our office is in the thick of the protests in Admiralty, and on Wednesday we and the other offices in the building had to shut early as we feared the situation could get worse,” says Vince Natteri, director of search firm Pinpoint Asia, which is based at the Lippo Centre. “Walking near our office, I could also feel the sting of tear gas,” he adds.

Natteri says interviews at his Admiralty offices have been moved to other days. Financial institutions based in Admiralty, the district at the centre of the protests around the city’s legislature, also cancelled many of their in-house interviews this week, even while their offices remained open, say recruiters. Societe Generale, BNY Mellon and Wells Fargo, for example, are located in Three Pacific Place, while the CITIC Tower hosts the Chinese investment bank along with EY, Mizuho and Maybank.

“The interviews I arranged around Admiralty this week were postponed, because of difficulties getting to and from Pacific Place,” says a Hong Kong banking recruiter who asked not to be named.

But job seekers weren’t just frustrated in Admiralty – interviews were cancelled across Hong Kong’s banking clusters, from Central to Kowloon and Quarry Bay. Most banks allowed staff to work from home mid-week because of disrupted public transport, meaning that many candidates and hiring managers weren’t available in person, says Warwick Pearmund, an associate director at Pure Search in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, as we reported earlier today, some banking professionals took part in the protests, which have garnered support among the finance community, despite banks themselves deciding not to officially take sides. “Some of my banking clients gave people the day off if they wanted to attend the protests,” says the anonymous recruiter.

Image credit: LewisTsePuiLung, Getty

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