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Views from Thomas de Mendonca, Regional Director, East China

Thomas oversees Michael Page East China's Financial Services, Finance and Banking as well as Legal disciplines.

Could you summarise the sentiment in the current employment market?

The finance market is strong and demand for professionals is high with a shift in focus towards more strategic roles. This encompasses both pure strategy with finance departments hiring professionals from top tier management consultancy firms or analytical finance; financial planning and analysis that drives a business and propels it forward.

The financial services sector remains a candidate-driven market with high demand and a shallow talent pool. Within insurance, the actuarial markets are strong as is the underwriting market and insurance companies are also focussing more on risk management. More generally, corporate sales candidate with solid global markets product knowledge and those with strong relationships and networks are also in demand.

Within legal “in-house”, we are seeing a number of companies setting up their legal functions locally and as a result making their first “stand alone” hire of a legal professional. Over time, these companies will grow their teams further but this will depend on the rate of business growth. In private practice, top tier domestic and foreign law firms are leaning towards the tendency to recruit “replacement” rather than generate new roles.


What are some of the skills in demand?

Within finance there is significant demand for FP&A, tax, Shared Service Centre and compliance professionals. Typically candidates between 12 and 20 years of experience are the in the most demand and those with excellent English and leadership potential remain key.

In financial services, companies are looking for regulatory professionals who are able to deal with regulators in China. Talent with a China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) background are in high demand. Insurance companies are looking for technical candidates (actuary, underwriter, risk, etc.) with strong communication skills with business lines.

In the legal sector, the roles in demand include legal counsel, general counsel, and corporate compliance. Generally, middle to senior level lawyers with experience gained from top domestic/ international law firms and corporations are highly preferred.


Can you share some of the salary expectations?

In finance, salary increases tend to be within the average range of 20% to 25%. However, an important point to note is that although finance experience is transferable across industries, professionals who move within the same industry can expect bigger salary increases.

Within financial services, salary increments also remain strong. Front office positions can often command increases of over 30% whilst middle and back office positions can range 20-25%

For legal professionals, salary increments remain good. Junior level employees can receive a bigger increment – up to 30 % - whereas senior level lawyers are expected salary increment of up to 20% when changing jobs.


What is the expected employment market outlook for your sectors/industries?

The finance employment market is expected to continue to experience solid growth. Organic growth from MNCs is expected to fuel the demand for finance professionals as the need for support functions such as finance grows and as the economy shifts towards a more serviced based economy, we in turn expect to see greater demand in support roles and services related organisations.

We expect to see some growth among non-traditional financial services players such as the smaller and mid-tier banks. The strong demand for regulatory candidates and front-office candidates will continue. This includes sales or revenue-generating roles. Risk management candidates with over five years of experience will continue to grow.

We expect recruitment activity in the legal sector to be bullish as companies start to grow in China. As companies continue to grow, they will outsource less and hire more in-house counsel. Also, as China is becoming more heavily regulated, corporate compliance is also increasingly important for companies as global shareholders demand stricter compliance in their China offices/operations.