Asset management jobs across Asia Pacific are enjoying a revival in hiring this year. Buy-side recruiters in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Australia say that they have more asset management jobs on their books than they did in 2013, when funds were generally not in an expansionist mood.
Sadly, unless you're in China, this does not mean that banking professionals are in high demand for asset management jobs. But if you already have buy-side experience, now may be a good time to consider a move.
Below we highlight some of the hot coverage sectors and job functions within APAC asset management.
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The majority of asset management jobs in Singapore are in sales and distribution “across different client segments – from institutional client mandates to retail and private-bank coverage mandates," says Stanley Teo, a director at Profile Search & Selection in Singapore. “Good retail sales professionals are highly sought after and given turnover in the area, the talent pool has become very narrow.”
Demand for investment specialists has also been rising this year. “These people typically perform a hybrid, specialised function between a portfolio manager and a relationship manager. They are experts in a specific asset class like equities or fixed income,” explains Teo.
Funds are not, however, scouring the sell-side for talent. “The concern with banking candidates is whether they can get used to the different pace and culture. In an institutional buy-side role, the amount of time invested in a client before they ultimately invest in a product can be counted in months or even years. Compared that to a sell-side institutional sales person, who is used to printing deal tickets on a daily basis.”
Hong Kong and China
The buy-side recruitment market in mainland China is much more active than it was a year ago, says Monica Song, manager, banking and financial services, at recruiters Hudson in Shanghai. “The reopening of Chinese IPOs earlier this year sent a positive message to the market.”
Specialists who cover the TMT (technology, media and telecommunications) and healthcare sectors are in particularly high demand thanks to increased deal-flow in those industries, says Song.
But a shortage of talent in China’s emerging funds industry shows no sign of abating. “For example, with hiring requirements concentrated in TMT, portfolio managers and fundraising candidates in that area are in shortage supply; it’s challenging filling vacancies,” she adds.
Bankers, at least junior ones, are generally welcomed at mainland fund houses, according to Song. “Analyst and associates are well trained at banks and can work well under pressure on the buy-side. But at a senior level, I don’t see too many successful moves.”
In Hong Kong, asset management recruitment is largely driven by sector and regional-specific demands, says Linus Choi, an associate at search firm Global Sage. “For example, we have received quite a few requests from our buy-side clients for consumer-sector analysts.”
Choi’s top tip for an emerging recruitment trend in Hong Kong? “I expect some top funds in Hong Kong to be looking to expand their India-coverage equities teams in the next quarter. Post-election in India there is optimism in the market that the new government will carry out some long overdue economic reforms.”
“Last year in Australia funds were holding ground with existing headcount rather than investing in new hires, but this tide is turning,” says Ashton Bilbie, director of search firm Profusion Group in Sydney. “With increased revenue due to stronger inflows, there’s an increasing propensity to hire. Term deposit interest rates are low here, so there’s an expectation that monies will be invested into higher-yielding products over the coming years.”
Foreign fund managers, rather than the established domestic firms, are responsible for much of the recent recruitment in Australia, according to Bilbie.
“Between about 20 and 30 highly skilled individuals have been poached recently from existing roles to assist the build-out of offshore of funds within the local market. Typically these funds dip their toes in the water with a high-level salesperson and expand after they taste success. Given the pressure on the local hiring market there will be opportunities for Aussie ex-pats coming home.”
Both product and investment roles are in high demand, especially within the property and infrastructure sectors. “Sell-side candidates are certainly being considered but people with buy-side experience are typically preferred,” says Bilbie.