Mid-Year Market Review - Finance & Operations

Written by Gordon Kwong

With the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong with regards to the extradition bill coupled with the global trade war between China and the US, the overall outlook for the end of 2019 and into 2020 is quite unclear. However, the overall market sentiment has been to carry on with business as usual. Most financial institution we have been working with are  focusing on identifying areas of profitability against a backdrop of the changing global dynamics. With foreign financial institutions in Hong Kong weathering the trade war between China and the US, Chinese financial institutions have changed strategy, moving away from investing overseas to domestic investments. Other ways financial institutions have been refocusing their recruitment efforts include the expansion of their virtual banking support teams.

As we enter the last quarter of 2019, we are seeing an increase in recruitment activity generally. Hiring managers were more cautious at the beginning of the year are now taking an active lead in filling headcounts in a bid to better support the overall business strategy.

Over the past few years we have seen fluctuations in recruitment activity in the tax sector. This year we have seen a significant changes in terms of how tax advisory teams work within the investment banks. Tax teams are increasingly not replacing headcounts and instead outsourcing tax advisory work to the professional accounting firms. In 2019 the average size of the tax advisory teams within an investment bank has shrunk from an average team size of 6 – 7 to no less than 3. In-house tax professionals are joining the professional accounting firms and we expect this to be an ongoing trend for the foreseeable future.