2019 has been a challenging year for the financial market, but I would still say to many of my clients and candidates that 2020 will be a big year especially for financial services industry. Why? Because the financial market is open, not only from the regulator perspective, but also from the talent attrition approach. 
Despite what's going on in the global market, we still have been hearing a lot of good news regarding opening policies, i.e. foreign partners are eligible to raise their shares to completely control the JV firms, especially in insurance, securities, asset management, etc. AXA has obtained full control over their JV with Tianping insurance. JP Morgan has got their license to be the first foreign securities company. Asset manager WOFEs is now dashing to apply for FMC, etc. At the same time, Chinese Banks' Wealth Management Subsidiaries are also appearing like bamboo shoots.

What’s in it for the market?

Surely financial institutions will be able to grasp more business opportunities in China as the market is open to them. Chinese institutions will have the chance to learn advanced investment methodology and practices from foreign institutions. Foreign institutions will have the chance to develop in this unique, huge potential market.
As a headhunter, I have seen that our candidates are more open to the new types of institutions – e.g. candidates from local firms are becoming more interested in foreign firms, cross-industries candidates are more active, etc. We should recognize that our local firms had hired large amounts of talent who graduated from top universities like Tsinghua, Peking University, Fudan, etc. or talents graduated from overseas universities; and in the past decades, this talent has been developed into professionals with sound exposure. Candidates who are now working in other financial institutions are also working to get Fund/Securities practitioner qualifications in order to make a transition to the fund/securities industry. Overseas Chinese are also very excited about the growth in the Chinese market and they are more actively looking for opportunities to come back.

Perfect candidates V.S. Outstanding talents?

The Chinese market is still a candidate-driven market. Employers are always wishing to find the perfect candidates who can fit into the organization with existing skills – which is right for this competitive market. However, top candidates are also looking for the best employers for their career path, and thus it usually takes a long time to find the right person. How can we attract the right people while also grasping the opportunities? There is a Chinese saying “A tree dies when moved while people thrive with change – 树挪死,人挪活“… we should believe that our employees will have the talent to learn and grow in the right environment. That is to say, given the right chances, people can achieve their potential, or even exceed it.
Whilst the executive level might not be that transferable with the very limited pool in the market, employers will need to prepare earlier. My advice is the following:
  1. Use your network, especially the high-level network
  2. Talk to headhunters with expertise in the certain areas
  3. Start approaching candidates earlier.

A recruitment process for a C-suite position usually takes about 4-6 months or even longer. Engaging your headhunter in your people plan earlier will help get to a good understanding of your business needs, and therefore it will be helpful to find the right person in a more efficient manner.

What do candidates need to prepare?

Be prepared for the upcoming opportunities by:
  1. Talking to your social network or headhunters to get understanding what the market need is and what you need to equip yourselves with for your next step.
  2. Never reject an opportunity to learn more about the market. Be weary of assumptions or perceptions because they might not always be right.
In short, 2020 will be an interesting year. The competition for talent will be entering another stage and we look forward to changing more lives through creating opportunities with our strategic partners.

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Jackie Wang
Associate Partner
T: +86 21 6062 3011
M: +86 182 1732 8963
E: [email protected]