A number of banks have announced the closures of their Hong Kong operations this year, and those affected are hitting the job market.
Westpac has junked its Asia strategy as part of an international retrenchment, while Commerzbank is shifting its Asian trading hub to Singapore over the next three years. But more immediately, Royal Bank of Canada is moving its global markets operations in Hong Kong to Singapore.
The switch, announced earlier this year affects around 80 staff at RBC and will take place from Spring 2022. RBC is offering everyone affected a relocation package with the promise of a front line role in Singapore, and around 80% of people have now accepted, according to insiders.
But those who don’t want to move abroad are now hitting the job market in Hong Kong and looking for opportunities ahead of the move in Spring.
“They don’t need to be bought out and are free to start. We’re seeing a lot of CVs from FICC bankers at RBC,” said one headhunter in Hong Kong. The bank took the decision to be closer to its corporate clients and to reflect a broader shift in sales and trading activities in Asia to Singapore. RBC capital markets is maintaining its corporate finance presence in Hong Kong, where it employs around 250 people.
Usually, banking recruitment falls silent in December, but these are not normal times. Banks have kept their hiring windows open throughout the year because of a lack of available talent, particular among the junior population, with analysts and associates quitting for the buy side.
Plus, some bankers are returning to the West, having grown frustrated with Hong Kong’s tough quarantine laws. “It’s down to personal choice. People who don’t want to be separated from their families are going home and this is creating opportunities,” the headhunter said.
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