Hong Kong banks demand more juniors with top foreign degrees

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Hong Kong banks demand more junior bankers with top foreign degrees

Heading back to Hong Kong

As banks in Hong Kong seek more staff with a global education as well as local knowledge, the number of Hong Kong financial professionals who’ve studied at elite foreign universities has surged.

We worked out the percentage of Hong Kong candidates on our database who have attended at least one of 30 leading international universities. And we then split them into juniors (one-to-five years’ experience) and seniors (more than 10 years’ experience).

The results reveal that the younger group, who have only entered the workforce this decade, are much more likely to have an overseas degree than their older counterparts.

Taken as a total, almost 19% of young candidates in Hong Kong have qualifications from the 30 elite universities, compared with just 8% among the senior group – a difference of 132%.

Moreover, the juniors registered higher attendance percentages in all but four of the colleges we looked at. For example, 3% of Hong Kong finance professionals in the one-to-five-year bracket went to the London School of Economics – but the figure slumps to 0.6% for those with 10 years’ experience or more.

While banks in Hong Kong are increasingly trying to hire candidates with Mandarin language skills and knowledge of the mainland markets and regulations, they ideally also want a foreign – particularly a US or European – education thrown into the mix.

This is particularly the case for international investment banks in Hong Kong who are looking for Hong Kong staff of the same academic standards as their counterparts in the West. “The bulge bracket hire predominately from the likes of the Ivy League for front-office graduate roles in Hong Kong,” says an incoming analyst at a US bank in Hong Kong. “It’s an advantage having a foreign degree.”

The recent growth of cross-border transactions involving Chinese companies has created additional demand for Hong Kong-based bankers who’ve studied overseas and can bridge the gap between Chinese clients and their international business ambitions.

Image credit: TongRo Images, Thinkstock

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