Hong Kong Investment Management 2019 Mid-year Update

Written by Anthony Liu

In the second of our 2019 Salary Survey & Guide Q&A articles, Anthony Liu, Senior Consultant provides an analysis of the investment management recruitment market since we launched the full survey back in January. 

At the beginning of the year, we reported on the importance of “cultural fit” when new talent was being hired, is this still a consideration for hiring managers? 

Yes, cultural fit is still considered to be one of the most important factors for both candidates and clients. Candidates are always looking for a team which they could fit in well and the clients seek to preserve their work culture and dynamic as that’s what has been working well. 

Have salary levels remained stable across the sector? Have there been any noticeable trends in specific industries?

2018 was a difficult year for asset managers in general and many companies were cautious in hiring in the first half of 2019. The salary level across the front office space is more or less the same as that of last year. 

Traditional investment firms have had a focus on hiring sales professionals to strengthen their client relationships, is it proving easy to secure talent that delivers adequate business gains from these hires? 

There are two types of sales hiring – demand and supply. The former provides supports to maintaining relationships with existing clients. The nature of this hiring is demand-driven as the employers do need to have existing client relationships to start with. The latter type of hiring is more opportunistic. Sales professionals with existing client relationships which could be brought to their next platform is rare and impactful. Clients ideally want to hire the latter type but the search will always be more challenging. 

Is the increase in allocated investment into Asia resulting in increased hiring or larger remuneration packages in PE firms or hedge funds?

I see limited “increase” of allocation to Asia as 2018 was a difficult year for most firms. Having said that, there was indeed a shift of allocation moving across capital structure from public to private investment. However, the compensation structure didn’t’ adjust significantly given the trend as most firms are still trying to keep their cost low during the bear market. 

What advice would you give to investment managers looking to make a move in the next few months?

I would suggest professionals would be wise to ensure that the next platform they are planning to join has the resources and support that they have been promised. Many companies, especially those which are financially supported. by SOE or HNWIs from China, look fine on their balance sheet but in reality, they encounter financial pressure due to the lack of capital/financing liquidity during the trade war. 

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