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The Need for Mandarin in Hong Kong Financial Services

Posted on July 2020

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“Banks in Hong Kong are still fairly dependent on mainland talent because the typical requirement for native mandarin speaking professionals hasn’t changed,” says Chris Wong, head of Selby Jennings China to eFinancial Careers. “IBD functions need Chinese talent, especially given the recent competition between the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges over the increasing number of future IPOs and secondary listings from Chinese companies,” he adds.

No doubt, often we see "Mandarin is preferred" on financial service job ads. This becomes a standard requirement for financial services professionals. For example, investment bankers focus on helping expansionist mainland companies make overseas acquisitions; mainland investments to the success of Hong Kong-based PE firms. It looks increasingly unlikely you will get a client-facing finance job in Hong Kong unless you know the language. However, what is the talent pool status now in Hong Kong?


Majority of Financial Services Talent Speaks Mandarin

According to eFinancial Career's database, Hong Kong does have a good pool of Mandarin-speaking talent. More than half of the sectors (10 sectors) have over 30% native mandarin speaking candidates. Almost all sectors (18 sectors) have over 50% native and fluent combined mandarin speaking candidates. It is interesting that this includes operations jobs, which demand comparatively little client interaction.

​Source: eFinancial Careers

If you are one of those that speak native to fluent level Mandarin, you are in a good position. But if you are weak in Mandarin, it is time to consider to upskill yourself.

Opportunity for Hong Kong Financial Services Market

The People's Bank of China and the monetary authorities of Hong Kong and Macau have announced to jointly implement the Wealth Connect programme. This will let Hong Kong private bankers serve clients across southern China’s Greater Bay Area. Although there are some concerns that Hong Kong might potentially be losing Chinese bankers due to Beijing's proposed global income tax, there is no Chinese banker exodus happening - yet. Local talent should always plan ahead and upskill themselves. In our recent guide, How to navigate a difficult job market, it is highly recommended professionals should leverage this time to advance their skills. When there is the opportunity, we should not let it slip away.

To read the original article, please visit eFinancial Careers.

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