We speak to Monica Pei, team leader, accounting & finance practice, Manpower Shanghai, about front-office roles at foreign banks in China.
Q: What are the main requirements for front-office positions at foreign banks?
A: The most common front-office position is the relationship manager. It requires skills both in customer retention and business development, including good communication, presentation, negotiation and interpersonal skills. The candidate for this position is able to identify client needs, either corporate or individual, and provide products or solutions, such as suitable investment strategies. The ideal person has a rich client base, can bring profits and refer business to other teams.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring foreign candidates in the front role?
A: The advantages of foreign candidates are solid knowledge and experience in an advanced overseas market, and also product innovation. Their skills are very competitive in this job market. They can be helpful for international banks which have foreign C-level executives. The disadvantages are high salary costs due to the higher mainland tax ratio, and a lack of knowledge about domestic markets, culture, industry patterns etc. Stability, relocation and family factors are also challenges.
Q: Are Mandarin-speaking candidates from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore particularly popular?
A: Yes, in many ways these candidates are looked upon favourably here because Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore people share similar Asian cultures, so they blend in easily locally. Also, there is a need for high-level executives to negotiate with local government offices and this requires Mandarin, which is also helpful in communicating with local employees.
Q: What are the key factors that will help candidates clinch a front-office role?
A: First, they need to have a clear goal, and know the employer's culture and operational style. Second comes their expertise in specific products/areas. Third is market knowledge: the trends, laws and economics of China. Forth is having strong connections, such as with recruiters who can provide information about the market and job opportunities, as well as with industry people. And finally interview skills: understanding the needs of employers and the job requirements.