If you're contemplating where in the world to situate your finance job, you might have your eye on North America - which is predicted to benefit from Brexit irrespective of the fitfulness of Trump, or maybe Frankfurt - despite the resurgence of German political risk. Or maybe you're entertaining some vague notion of the 'BRIC countries'. If so, you're getting it all wrong. You should swivel your gaze to China's 'Belt and Road' initiative. This is where it's all happening now.
For anyone unfamiliar with the dissonant nomenclature, Belt and Road is China's tagline for an expected $900bn of infrastructure investments intended to connect it to the world. There are two parts: a 'Silk Road Economic Belt', by Road; and a '21st Century Maritime Silk Road,' by sea. The two will cover China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltics), with the aim of linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. The investments began in 2013 but are only just starting to get going. McKinsey equates the project to postwar reconstruction of Europe in the Marshall Plan, except it says Belt and Road has the potential to be bigger. Banks are on full alert.
The South China Morning Post says Belt and Road offers U.S. banks a valuable opportunity to finally get a foothold in the vicinity of China. While many have struggled to compete against Chinese banks in China itself, the longer tendrils of Belt and Road mean they can build a presence in its environs.
Citi is already deploying corporate banking staff along the countries implicated in the initiative and John Mullally, director of financial services in Hong Kong and Shenzhen at recruitment firm Robert Walters, tells the SCMP that there's also "strong hiring" from Chinese banks and investment funds in China itself. Most Belt and Road initiatives are financed by government-owned banks, with China Construction Bank Corp and Bank of China already raising billion-dollar funds for future investment, but Citi was recently the lead issuer in a rainbow bond issued by Bank of China to help finance new Belt and Road branches. There's also the potential to fund multinationals looking to expand along the new axis, with the result that capital markets throughout the region are expected to expand.
Europe and the U.S. look tired by comparison - if you want to insure your career until 2030, you might want to work somewhere along the lines below.
Separately, Goldman Sachs' chief technologist in Europe has an interesting idea of a date night out with her husband. Financial News says Joanne Hannaford, Goldman's partner and head of Emea technology & global head of quality assurance engineering, enrolls a few times a year in programming courses at a London university. She and her husband (also a programmer) treat this as a date night and have dinner afterwards. "I think it is very cool to sit in a class and learn new programming languages alongside much younger people,” Hannaford says. Students who see her might want to ask for a job.
Bridgewater is equipping its employees with an automated "coach" based on artificial intelligence. "Let's say you're dealing with somebody who isn't doing a good job or is somebody who has a personal problem, maybe an illness, or whatever the person's circumstances are. What it does now is if you type into a 'coach' ... it then gathers information about the person and the circumstances, so they're there. It analyzes what they're like and provides guidance for what to do." (Business Insider)
U.S. banks in London are lobbying for a continuation of the 'overseas person exemption' post-Brexit. This allows non-EU banks to carry out some forms of regulated activity in the UK without a specific license to operate. If it's included in a "mutual access" arrangement agreed between the EU and UK before Brexit, U.S. banks should be able to continue operating in London as they do now. (Financial News)
The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has had zero applications for new licenses from EU banks operating in Britain who might lost the right to "passport" services into the country after Brexit takes place. (Reuters)
French investment banks are thriving. They're already focused on corporate clients, have escaped the worst of the rout in fixed income, and are generating a healthy return on equity thanks to their cash management businesses. (Wall Street Journal)
A banker from Deutsche just joined a huge Asian buyout fund. (Reuters)
Nomura hired a Deutsche Bank MD for its agency mortgage business in the U.S. (Reuters)
Women are getting too clever for men. (Daily Mail)
Aged three, U.S. children are more likely to ask for help. (Sage)
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