Trust companies are adding front-office headcount in China this year as they continue to increase their product range and the sector tempts more foreign investors.
"The expandion has been going on for two or three years. Under the trust license, each company is trying to set up its diversified business, including corporate financing, wealth management and private equity," says Monica Song, managing consultant, Hudson Shanghai.
There are about 55 trust companies in China, most of them owned by local governments or state-owned enterprises. Ping An Trust and Zhong Rong International Trust are two of the largest recruiters in the sector.
JPMorgan and Fidelity are among the overseas banks and asset managers preparing to apply for trust company licences, although foreign investors are limited to 20 per cent stakes.
Trust companies - which sold over 2trn yuan-worth of products in 2010, according to The Economist - are now looking for project managers, customer relationship managers, financial advisors and salespeople. "They are recruiting salespeople the most, especially experienced ones with a high-net-worth client base," adds Song.
Some trust companies are also hiring people with private equity real estate financing experience because they want to launch innovative new real estate trusts.
Many of these roles are based outside Beijing and Shanghai, in centres such as Shenzhen, Chengdu and Chongqing.
"The difference between big cities and smaller ones is that in big cities, trust companies offer more product innovation and professional services, while in small cities, the products are more localised," says Michael Ji, consultant, financial services, Robert Walters Shanghai.
Compensation is usually project-related and the structure varies in each company, he says. Song adds: "The total package is still competitive compared with local banks and foreign banks. However, the salary structure is different. Trusts adopt low base and high bonus."
Trust companies cater for wealthy individuals, as well as privately-owned businesses that have trouble accessing the traditional banking system. Offering higher rates of return than the more heavily regulated banks, they invest in property, infrastructure, financial instruments and companies.