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Talent Movement: The Greater Bay Area

Posted on February 2021 By Selby Jennings

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According to the Wealth Report 2020 by Knight Frank, China is listed the second of the global Ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) distribution chart, over 61,000 individuals worth over USD 30m. With this rising income in mainland China unleashed the potential for future growth in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

The Talent Demand

While China has prioritized the GBA for investment, banks have also taken their moves. HSBC has announced to increase its rate of investment in the Great Bay Area, including opening a new Greater Bay Area office. Standard Chartered has also announced to establish a GBA centre, aim to hire more than 1,600 employees by 2023. While banks are expanding their operations across GBA, the demand for talent has been increased. However, Hong Kong-based financial services professionals are reluctant to relocate.

The Boundaries

High tax rate

The tax in China is around 40%, which is way higher than Hong Kong 15%. While banks are not reviewing individuals package, it can be hard for them to relocate and bear this increase expenses.

Less front-office opportunities

Although banks are expanding their operations to GBA, Guangzhou is usually set as offshore support centres. Opportunities for front-office roles seems limited.  

Why not Beijing or Shanghai?

If an individual is willing to take up the relocation opportunity, and relocate to China, compare to other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, Guangzhou becomes less attractive. The package seems more attractive as well for Beijing and Shanghai.

International Exposure

Not just competing with other china cities, the young and upcoming bankers are keener to gain international exposure. As a result, they would rather relocate to Singapore, Taiwan, the US or EU countries.

The Opportunities

With China pushes its GBA agenda, certain job functions can be more inclined to consider moving over.

Private Banking

According to a report by Tsinghua University People’s Bank of China School of Finance, the number of high net-worth individuals in China now exceeds 1.3 million. With Wealth Connect Scheme, which allows millionaires to move their money across borders. The opportunities for private bankers are huge. “Private bankers are more inclined to consider moving to GBA, as they can capitalize on being onshore in a huge wealth-growth region and network amongst the tycoons of tomorrow,” says Abimanu Jeyakumar, North Asia head of Selby Jennings. “When it comes to wealth management, it is always about this relationship building. Being present will always have more advantage than being far away.”


China is undeniably the world leader in fintech, hosting some of the most innovative and successful companies in the sector. In the GBA, 21 companies have made into the Fortune Global 500 list this year. Leading players in technology such as Tencent, Huawei, and Lenovo are on the list.

When it comes to fintech – and technology as a whole – Shenzhen is leading the field as China's tech hub. China's version of Silicon Valley has already attracted a number of fintech research institutions, including one under the country's central bank, the People's Bank of China, which is studying the creation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

 “Fintech firms with entities both in Hong Kong and Shenzhen will want to have all staff gain experience from the cutting edge tech sector in Shenzhen,” says Jeyakumar. “With the government GBA agenda, the Tech talent would be keen to move over to this Silicon Valley of the East to gain experience and exposure.”

To read the original interview, please visit eFinancial Careers.

Find Out More

At Selby Jennings, we have offices across the APAC, Europe and US market. Our team work closely globally to identify the best business-critical talent for our hyper-growth clients. If you are looking to explore the future growth of your sector in different cities, speak to our specialist recruiters, they will be able to share insights and industry updates with you.

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