Meet the most jet-setting finance professionals in Asia

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Are you looking for a new finance job in Singapore or Hong Kong? Are you wondering whether you’ll need to spend endless nights away from your family on business trips?

We’ve calculated the total number of CVs on our database in 13 key job categories for Singapore and Hong Kong-based candidates. We’ve then worked out the percentage of these candidates who are very willing to travel frequently as part of their next job (using the highest, 75%, level on our database’s business-travel sliding scale as a proxy for extreme willingness).

If you’re working in the job functions towards the top of the chart below, a comparatively high percentage of the candidates you’ll be competing against are either enthusiastic about travelling or see it as unavoidable. Either way, if you’re a homebody in these parts of the finance sector, you may well be disadvantaged in the job market.

Private equity professionals are more willing jet-setters (38.9%) than any of their sell-side or buy-side counterparts. While Singapore and Hong Kong are regional hubs for PE firms, their investments tend to be in larger markets like China and Indonesia – business travel is par for the course.

Those working in capital markets (38.5%) and investment banking/M&A (36.9%) are also comparatively willing to travel on a frequently basis. And these percentages only look set to rise in the near future, particular in Hong Kong where bankers are increasingly representing (and travelling to meet) clients on the mainland.

Consultants (35%), many of whom have to work off-site, are also high on our travel-willingness ranking. More surprisingly, corporate banking finishes fifth – if you want to climb the ladder in this sector in Hong Kong or Singapore you’ll be up against people wanting to service regional, not just domestic, corporate clients.

By contrast, you may be able to get away with not being a big jet-setter in private banking – only 28.2% of your rival candidates are very willing to travel for business. While private bankers do sometimes visit customers overseas, the wealthy Chinese, Indians and Indonesians who make up most of their clients often prefer coming to Singapore and Hong Kong themselves for work and pleasure.

Operations jobs (27.8%) fall towards the bottom of our chart, but the figure belies an increasing need for travel at a senior level in Hong Kong and Singapore. “Offshoring of back-office functions to lower-cost markets means more teams are managed remotely from Singapore or Hong Kong, so managers need to travel to these offshore locations several times a year,” says Will Russell, Singapore director of recruitment firm Ambition.

While compliance is now in a low position (26.8%), expect your willingness to travel to become a more important job requirement in the near future. “An increased focus on corporate governance in Asia means more rigorous audit schedules and this can also lead to compliance jobs involving more travel. I’m starting to see some investigations and sanctions roles requiring travelling 60% of the time, to any location globally, often at very short notice,” explains Russell.

If you work in fintech in Singapore or Hong Kong, you are best placed to enjoy the comforts of home – at 24.8%, IT brings up the rear of our travel-willingness chart. “Aside from the occasional offshore transition-manager job, the vast majority of IT roles don't require that much travel and if I had to generalise, IT guys aren't particularly excited about travel either,” says Vince Natteri, director of recruitment at search firm Pinpoint Asia in Hong Kong.

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