Hong Kong expat banking community decimated by job cuts

Published:  5 Aug at 6 PM
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Fewer opportunities for Hong Kong’s laid-off expat bankers are destroying the dream.

Once a prime location for expat bankers, Hong Kong is now immersed in seemingly endless violent protests as well as an employment desert for expat bankers recently laid off by their employers. Reasons for the banking sector’s shrinking labour market include increasing demand for Mandarin speakers and cost-cutting by international banks located on the island. Deutsche Bank’s recent announcement of a swathe of cuts made the situation even worse and was followed by a similar statement from Nomura Holdings, another major Hong Kong employer.

Due to the city’s famously expensive cost of living, especially in the rental sector, senior bankers intending to stay will need to find new jobs within a short time of being made redundant. Some are already considering switching careers to cryptocurrency funds or consulting positions, with those lucky enough to land new jobs in the banking sector forced to accept swinging cuts in salaries and perks. The island’s recruitment firms are unified in their belief there are too few demands to be able to cope with increased supplies of jobless bankers. Local media outlets are now featuring examples of former top financial specialists who’re uncertain whether to stay or go, although the majority would prefer to stay.

One expat banker formerly employed by a leading Asian bank is considering a start-up, but is realistic enough to accept leaving his 20-year home in Hong Kong if necessary. Another whose job at a European investment bank ended recently would prefer to stay as his children are doing well at their international school. To make matters even worse, Deutsche Bank’s 50 per cent cut of equity staff in Asia is to be followed next month by another 25 per cent of redundancies, although it won’t specify the numbers of projected Hong Kong lay-offs.
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