Expat bankers heading for Asian jobs will need Mandarin

Published:  1 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: China, Hong Kong, Jobs
Banks are increasingly requiring knowledge of the Mandarin language from applicants for positions in their Asian arms in Hong Kong and Singapore.

According to financial services headhunter firm Astbury Marsen, command of the English language is no longer enough for bankers looking to land top Asian jobs. A fall in the number of senior positions available due to the global slowdown has resulted in employers being more specific about their requirements, selecting only those who fulfill all their clients’ needs.

Given the growth of the numbers of wealthy Chinese in the region and their importance to financial services providers, it’s no surprise that Asian employers are now demanding the ability to communicate in Mandarin. Applicants for Hong Kong positions are now out of the running if they cannot speak the local language.

Astbury Marsden Asia Pacific’s manager, Mark O’Reilly, confirmed that having expertise, experience and technical skills is no longer enough for British bankers looking to make the move to Asia. If the role advertised, he continued, involves dealing with mainland Chinese clients, fluent Mandarin is essential.

The recent growth of Chinese banks, corporations and insurers has meant that Hong Kong jobs in the sector which only involve dealing with English speakers are shrinking fast. The areas in which Mandarin skills are most important are private banking, management consultancy and mergers and acquisitions.

China’s personal wealth is soaring in conjunction with its economy, with the country now the second-largest economy in the world and home to more than 1.4 million millionaires. The trend in China is to invest in stable hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore, with a number of Western private banks now recruiting in Hong Kong in order to serve the high net worth Chinese sector.
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