Foreign financial firms race to recruit for Chinese market
Published: Jan 13, 2021 09:13 PM

Photo: IC

With China moving resolutely toward opening up its financial sector to foreign investment, those aiming high for a China market presence are racing to hire financial professionals, a trend market observers believe will only intensify as the country retains its allure amid global uncertainty. 

A search for openings by BlackRock on job site Glassdoor on Wednesday revealed 13 vacancies in Shanghai, with the newest opening being for a fund operation manager within the US asset management giant's newly created wealth management firm.

BlackRock, in partnership with Temasek and China Construction Bank, was granted regulatory approval in August 2020 to set up the wealth management joint venture in Shanghai, in which BlackRock will hold a 50.1-percent stake.

Other industry heavyweights joining the recruitment battle include global asset manager Fidelity International, which is looking for multiple higher-end talent for its Shanghai operations, per Glassdoor results. 

In another sign, Jason Tan, director at US staffing firm Kelly Services, wrote in a posting earlier in January on his LinkedIn account that a foreign fund is seeking a China general manager, without elaborating. 

As of Wednesday, 13 foreign investment banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and BlackRock had 383 public job openings for the Chinese market, according to data provided to the Global Times on Wednesday by Beijing Alpha Technology, an upstart firm with expertise in artificial intelligence-powered headhunting.

Foreign financial institutions increased hiring of local talent in the second quarter of last year when Chinese regulatory authorities lifted the foreign shareholding limits, the headhunting agency disclosed. 

Foreign ownership limits on futures firms were scrapped starting on January 1, 2020, while the removal of foreign shareholding controls was scheduled for April 1, 2020 in the case of fund management firms, and December 1, 2020 for securities firms. 

The elimination of foreign ownership limits opened the floodgates for foreign institutions to vie for a bigger slice of the Chinese market, Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The battle for China market presence starts with a race for professionals with thorough knowledge of the local market, thus enabling the foreign giants to localize their ambitions, Dong said, noting that unlike their Chinese counterparts with a much bigger network of retail outlets, foreign institutions tend to focus primarily on the upscale section of the market and therefore would be hiring mostly senior talent to serve the high net worth population.

The trend is to continue as the market has grown alluring for foreign investment, analysts said.  

As of December 31, 2020, bonds held by overseas institutions in the country's interbank bond market totaled 3.04 trillion yuan ($469.5 billion), up 1.07 trillion yuan from the end of 2019, official data showed. 

In addition, foreign investors held nearly 3 trillion yuan worth of outstanding A-shares, about 4.8 percent of the total. 

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