The Year so far for HR in Asia – Banking & Finance



2011 has brought with it a mixed market that on occasions appears to be overheating and on others is getting more and more nervous. Speak to candidates and they will tell you that they are inundated with calls from Head Hunters, however speak to the business and they will tell you that nervousness from both Europe and the US is also holding us back. In truth it really sits somewhere in between with high caliber candidates finding themselves in demand, while the masses receive lots of calls yet don’t actually close on a new opportunity.

HR Generalists

This year has seen an interesting start to the year with new players coming to table and the older, more established players also keen to upgrade talent where they can. For Generalists the new companies to Asia will offer new roles and opportunities, a chance to genuinely lead a region and start to build a team that you can develop. The cons can outweigh the pro’s in these cases with roles being a lot more “hands on” and you needing to be a aware that roles with these firms can be heavily skewed to specific area’s depending on the time of year (e.g. one role this year for a small firm had recruitment at 80% of the focus for the first 12months). The other move for generalists has come from what a lot of people would regard as Tier 2 organisations, companies that are well established yet don’t have the most developed HR function in Asia. It is these companies that are looking to change things and they can offer a candidate heavy exposure to both Change Management and Organizational Design and even potentially leading a large regional HR transformation project.

HR Centre of Excellence

Learning & Development

This is an area that has still to catch up with the rest of the HR market, with companies keener to invest money in other areas and use more external vendors for now. I see this as an area that will start to grow again in 2012 as retention strategies and talent management programs start to come to the fore again. One area that has become more of a focus is that of Graduate Development. As Graduate Hiring increases, so does the need to develop and retain them, as a result more companies are looking to hire people as a pure Graduate Development specialists who would additionally sit in the Graduate Hiring team.


This has probably been the busiest area of HR over the last 6-12 months. Both Graduate and Lateral hiring teams have been ramping up and with potential hiring numbers due to get back to levels previously seen in 2006 and 2007 this area becomes ever more competitive. Graduate recruiters are notoriously hard to find due to the cyclical nature of the job and the fact that after 2-3years in a role most candidates want to try something different. The key for clients to hiring in this space is to ensure that their role is truly different to the candidate’s current position and they have scope to develop.


With the further strain that is now put on remuneration after the GFC there has been an increase in demand in this area in 2011. Companies still appear to be split in how they do things with some separating Compensation and Benefits (C&B) completely, while others maintain their stance on a truly combined C&B function. From our side candidates still prefer to be involved in both areas and limiting their development to specializing in just one area could be an additional reason for them looking elsewhere.

Final Comment

Hiring in 2011 for HR has been busy but we are not at the candidate short levels seen before in 2007 and 2008. Regular interaction with overseas candidates has seen it increasingly hard to find them roles in Asia, unless it is potentially within Recruitment and they are coming to Asia with their partners. The key indicator in the market is when you start to hear about the excessive pay rises of the past, we aren’t there yet, it is our view that candidates are still talking about the head hunting calls they are receiving rather than the pay rises they are getting.

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