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The Aquis Search Hong Kong Investment Management Salary Survey 2018 details salary information and recruiting trends in APAC Investment Management and Alternative Investment industries. Our information has been researched and collated from our clients, candidates and our working knowledge of the marketplace. Aquis Search consultants have extensive expertise in their practice area and the information reported is based on telephone interviews with hiring managers, HR professionals and in-house recruiters, as well as data extracted from our own extensive database and internal research resources.
As with all reports that detail salary information and trends, we represent the mainstream view and recognise there will be anomalous situations divergent from the published data. This survey is therefore a guide to the general movement in the sector. Please contact us for further information or for clarification on any of the compensation trends detailed in this report.
2017 saw a number of international economic and political factors affect the investment management industry. The human capital market in investment management as a result was volatile as hiring activities normally tend to strongly correlate with the industry’s investment appetite. The market sentiment was cautious at first but became increasingly optimistic towards the end of the year.
During the first half of 2017, hiring was more reserved as we continued to see the knock-on effect of tightening regulations and a passive investment trend. There was an emphasis on employee retention to stabilise salary levels and avoid costly hiring processes. The traditional post-bonus season spike in hiring was not as pronounced, as most firms were prudent about their hiring plans. Movement in the market was largely due to regular employee turnover rate and there was some expansion in large investment firms with strong budgets. However, hiring activity among boutique asset management firms, small hedge funds and private equity funds was appreciably limited.
This changed dramatically during the second half of 2017. The equity market performed well and many firms began actively recruiting again. Chinese fund houses, especially, sought to aggressively expand their international operations using Hong Kong as a regional hub. This resulted in a flurry of activity on both distribution and investment sides, contributing to fierce competition between firms seeking individuals with handson experience and strong communication skills. Many hedge funds expanded their portfolio manager headcounts to cover Greater China and analysts with a focus on telecoms, media and technology (TMT) were in demand as well. Indeed, Mandarin has become almost a mandatory requirement even for international firms.
In 2018, we expect continued high demand for talent from Chinese firms. Through our conversations with Chinese fund houses and listed companies, we understand many of these corporations are increasingly interested in investments in private equities and credit. Many mentioned that they will expand their in-house investment teams by hiring bulge-bracket investment bankers and/or candidates from top tier private equity firms. Moreover, new private equity funds will be launched by SOEbacked firms to invest both into China and globally. Infrastructure, TMT and healthcare industries remain a key focus of investments hence candidates with related skillsets and prior exposure will be in demand.
We have also seen significant capital flow to hedge funds that run quantitative strategies, thus demand for quant-savvy candidates in both strategy and development will also be evident. The asset class of ETFs should become further popularised among traditional fund houses, especially for Hong Kong institutional clients, and we expect a greater need for the recruitment of ETF sales and portfolio managers as a result. Many international firms are growing their business in other Asian countries so the need for candidates with additional languages such as Korean and Japanese is likely to rise. We have also noted that an increasing number of foreign investment firms acquired their WOFE licenses in China and we foresee the trend to be accelerated, with more China-oriented hiring being conducted.
Salary and bonus levels will likely remain at similar levels to 2017, as there are sufficient candidates in the market to fill most replacement roles and firms will be unwilling to enter bidding wars to secure talent. Bonuses in this sector vary from company to company and are dependent on the performance of individuals, teams and firms, however, as the performance of the overall industry remains stable we expect bonus levels to remain the same as 2017.