Message to salespeople in Asia: Just sit back and wait to be poached

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French brokerage Newedge, a joint venture between Société Générale and Crédit Agricole CIB, plans to recruit at least 50 people for Asian sales in the next year. But by its own admission, procuring the right talent in this sector is a tough ask because all its rivals are poaching too.

After making redundancies during the GFC, the firm is now "being aggressive" in customer-facing positions, Newedge's head of Asia Pacific, Laurent Cunin, told Bloomberg. The firm is hiring across the region, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and in what Cunin describes as the "key markets" of China and India.

However, he says surging salaries and competition for talent are threats to Newedge's expansion ambitions. "We're seeing a lot of poaching as firms that pulled back in the past try to play catch-up. Salaries are about 20 per cent higher than what they were and this competition for talent is slowing us down in terms of hiring people."

Is Cunin correct?

Is the job market for salespeople this competitive? Yes seems to be the answer, but only those with existing brokerage experience can take advantage.

Pernille Storm, managing director, ALS International, says many brokerages are actually back in growth mode and are no longer simply replacing the staff they lost during the GFC.

"Brokers in the exchange traded derivatives and OTC space are in huge demand as listed and cleared-product trade volumes increase and broking firms look to expand and grow market share into Asia and Australasia."

Annie Yap, managing director, AYP Associates, says brokerages have not lowered their recruitment standards for sales roles, which means the candidate pool remains small. This is fueling the competition for talent which Cunin describes.

"Firms are mainly poaching experienced people from each other because they want ready portfolios and good sales skills. They don't want a new person who needs six to 12 months' training to get up to speed," adds Yap.

Angela Kuek, head of front office banking and financial services, Hudson, agrees that firms are competing for revenue generators who have "key client relationships or a book of business that can be ported over".

"A proven track record of performance is still very much sought after for front-office or specialist positions. This is especially so after the GFC. From a product angle, areas such as oil, energy, commodities, structured finance, structured debt and credits are in demand," says Kuek.

Later this week, in a follow-up to this article, we examine whether sales salaries in Asia are really surging.

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