Think jobs at OCBC, think working at 63 Chulia Street, the bank’s landmark tower in Singapore. Not all jobs at the bank are homegrown, however – OCBC is also recruiting for front-office roles in…China. This is despite the US-China trade dispute and a slowdown in the Chinese economy.
OCBC chief executive Samuel Tsien told analysts earlier this month that the firm is on track to reach its target of generating $1bn in profit by 2023 from the Greater Bay Area, which comprises Hong Kong and 10 nearby mainland cities. The firm’s pre-tax profit from that region of China alone reached S$605m last year, up from S$551m in 2017.
In mainland China, OCBC’s hiring is focused primarily on one job function: relationship manager, business banking. Nearly two thirds (64%) of the firm’s China-based vacancies are for these RMs, according to its careers site. These include jobs in Beijing, Shanghai and Fujian, as well as in Bay Area cities such as Shenzhen and Huizhou.
OCBC has been growing in China since 2016 when OCBC Wing Hang Bank (China) was established, following the merger of OCBC Bank (China) and Wing Hang Bank (China), the Chinese unit of the Hong Kong-based firm that OCBC acquired two years previously.
The bank’s expanded network – it employs more than 1,200 staff at its Shanghai headquarters and 25 offices across 14 cities in China – is now letting it make “waves of new hires”, and shed its previous image as a “conservative” recruiter compared with Singaporean rival DBS, says Shanghai-based headhunter Jason Tan. “In particular, OCBC is looking to build a stronger Greater China franchise, and is hiring more RMs to take advantage of business growth in the Bay Area,” he says.
It’s not all good news for OCBC in China. CEO Tsien said he expects loan growth to be between 4% and 5% this year, down from 9% in 2018, because of US-China trade tensions.
There is a potential silver lining to this, however: OCBC is stepping up recruitment just as the overall labour market in corporate banking slows down. “The job market in the Chinese banking industry is weak due to a decline in the domestic economy,” says Tan. “Banks have taken on cost-control measures by closing down non-performing branches, and withdrawing balance-sheet heavy services,” he adds.
As a result, says Tan, corporate banking relationship managers in China – the very people OCBC now wants to hire – have been struggling to find jobs since the end of last year. “There are very few newly created RM jobs. When my firm advertised a role recently we received over 300 applicants from people at local and foreign banks in China in less than 24 hours.”
OCBC might have few problems finding RMs for the roles it has on offer, and with the job market stacked in employers’ favour, RMs shouldn’t expect a hefty pay rise for coming on board, says Tan. “OCBC is not known to be the most aggressive paymaster among the regional Asian banks. Pay rises are typically 15% to 18%,” he adds.
OCBC did not reply to a request to comment on its mainland hiring.
Image credit: mtcurado, Getty
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