Banks bulk up in Hong Kong as China business overshadows politics

Goldman Sachs Group Inc Citigroup Inc UBS AG and other banks are each hiring many people within the city this year, adding substantially to their existing ranks.

June 08, 2021 - 01:02 PM 567 views

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Some global banks, funds and other financial services providers say they're stepping up hiring in Hong Kong, during a sign the city's unique position as a financial gateway to China is outweighing concerns about Beijing's tightening grip over it. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C), UBS AG and other banks are each hiring many people within the city this year, adding substantially to their existing ranks.

Citigroup, for instance, has said it's bulking up its staffing by 1,500 people, including additional headcount and replacements in 2021, double the amount of individuals it hired a year ago. it's about 4,000 people within the city. A Goldman spokesman said the bank, which has about 2,000 people in Greater China, expects hiring in Hong Kong to be up 20% this year.

The Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong's market regulator, is seeing a rebound in-licenses it issues for people involved in asset management, securities and other financial activities, consistent with data on its website. the entire number of licenses it issued was up 1.7% at the top of March, compared with nine months earlier, and just shy of an all-time peak in 2019.

"Hong Kong has some unique advantages, and it'll remain the gateway for several of our local and global clients to access China," said Kaleem Rizvi, Head of Citi's Asia-Pacific corporate bank. Many financial companies slowed hiring last year, after protests against Chinese rule and a replacement security law imposed on the town to crush dissent by Beijing, also because the coronavirus pandemic, six bankers, recruiters and other industry executives said.

The increased hiring plans of some major players show that they're now willing to measure with the political risks. "Everyone within the businessmen I even have spoken with welcomes the peace and stability now, compared with the chaos of 2019," said Weijian Shan, chairman and chief executive of Hong Kong-based private equity group PAG. To make certain , politics remains contentious and unsettling for a few finance professionals, some bankers have said.

Some expatriate financial workers have left or considered leaving Hong Kong , along side thousands of residents of the previous British colony.

Hong Kong police have asked some banks handy over account details of opposition activists and politicians arrested under a stringent national security law imposed by Beijing, and therefore the government has threatened jail time for bankers handling assets belonging to media tycoon Jimmy Lai frozen under the new law.

Hong Kong's financial regulators declined to discuss banks' hiring plans or some bankers' disquiet about the political tightening. on the brink of CHINA Bankers and other financial services professionals interviewed by Reuters said much of the lure of being in Hong Kong comes from the city's close ties to China and therefore the business it brings. That business is booming. Flows via the stock connect schemes linking Hong Kong with the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges rose to record highs within the half-moon of 2021.

Companies, mostly from China , raised extra money through Hong Kong listings within the first five months of this year than they did within the same period of the last four years combined, Refinitiv data shows. Mergers and acquisitions in Greater China are the very best since 2018. Anthony Fasso, Asia Pacific chief executive of worldwide asset manager Pine Bridge Investments, said Hong Kong was adapting to the new realities.

We believe that Hong Kong will remain a globally competitive international city at the doorstep of 1 of the most important and fastest-growing economies within the world,” Fasso said. HIRING SPREE Besides Goldman and Citigroup, Swiss bank UBS hired 200 people within the year through March, which consisted of 20 new full-time staff compared to seven within the previous fiscal year , a spokesman said. The bank took on 100 contractors and 80 graduates within the year to March. it had been the very best number of graduate recruits to hitch UBS in additional than 10 years. The bank has 2,500 people based in Hong Kong .

HSBC Holdings Plc (LON: HSBA) has said it plans to feature 400 staff in Hong Kong this year, a part of its decide to recruit 5,000 people within the next five years within the region to wealth management in Asia. Lok Yim, Hong Kong chief executive of Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB), said the German bank was also planning on making further strategic hires, after a first-quarter that had been its strongest in years.

"We are probably two to 3 times as busy now as we were late last year," said Olga Yung, regional director at recruitment firm Michael Page in Hong Kong .

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