Employment Outlook: Hong Kong

Employment Outlook May 28, 2019 No Comments

Job opportunities abound as talent shortages persist in prosperous, stable Hong Kong.

By Mary Anne Thompson, founder, and president, GoinGlobal, Inc.

Prosperous Hong Kong boasts high incomes, ranking 11th among the world’s richest countries by GDP per capita based on population size. Hong Kong ranks third among the world’s top financial centers, according to the Global Financial Centres Index, and the city is home to many of the world’s most prominent banks, investment banks, financial firms, insurance agencies, and trading companies. Large Chinese companies are increasing their presence in the city as they seek opportunities to grow internationally.

Currently, about 14% of Hong Kong’s employees are foreign nationals. They are needed in the city as skills shortages persist, especially in the business services, digital and finance technology areas but also in the legal and sales and marketing sectors. In fact, 69% of Hong Kong’s employers report having difficulty filling open positions. Many employers believe the ongoing skills shortage could severely affect their businesses, according to consulting firm Korn Ferry.

Areas of Job Promise

The services sector is the one expected to hire the most this year. Key growth sectors are also technology, finance technology (fin-tech) and mining and construction. The legal and compliance sector, wholesale and retail trade sector, and the transportation and utilities sectors are also looking for talent.

Most Wanted Positions:

  • Technology professionals with specializations in Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, Research and Development (R&D) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Financial services managers
  • IT auditors (from junior to senior level)
  • Fin-tech professionals
  • Legal professionals with virtual banking, cryptocurrency and mobile payment experience

Salaries

Salary increases will remain stable across all industries. The average salary raise for professionals moving jobs is expected to range from 10 to 15%. Professionals in the financial services sector can expect a salary increment between 15 to 20%. Professionals specialized in AI, blockchain, machine learning, and private banking could command raises as high as 25%. Technology experts with niche skills, however, will be able to command the highest salaries, with premium pay raises amounting to 30% or more when changing job.

Industry Trends

Employers are seeking candidates with niche skills across many industries. The digital and fin-tech sectors are experiencing the most severe talent shortages.

Accounting and Finance

The shortage of talent in the cybersecurity field has companies looking to hire foreign candidates. Hiring contract staff is another solution to the talent shortage.

Roles in Demand

  • Finance professionals with experience in robotic process automation (RPA) and cloud-based applications
  • Financial analysts with knowledge of data mining and extraction, financial modeling and data analysis
  • Accountants
  • FP&A professionals (especially those with analytical and critical-thinking skills, able to communicate cross-functionally with stakeholders outside finance)
  • Mid-level analysts with private equity experience
  • Private banking professionals, investment counselors, and product specialists
  • External and internal consultants with strong compliance experience
  • Professionals in the field of asset management able to support strategy, operations and change management

Language skills: Proficiency in Chinese is highly valued.

Sales and Marketing

The digitalization of the society is having a strong influence on sales and marketing professionals and on how much companies need them. Candidates with specific knowledge, who can successfully develop a company’s online presence and offerings will be highly sought after. E-commerce is fueling job growth in sales and marketing, particularly in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

Roles Most in Demand

  • Digital/e-commerce omnichannel experts
  • Marketing managers, product managers and key account managers in the retail, real estate, hospitality, technology, and life sciences sectors.
  • Technology roles in FMCG
  • Internal/corporate communication professionals
  • Customer analytics managers

Skills in Demand

  • Experience with big data, AI, data optimization
  • Experience with e-commerce and mobile payment systems
  • Knowledge of social media, online content strategies and digital performance marketing, brand management and marketing communication

Language skills: Demand is high for F&B candidates who understand Hong Kong, China, and Macau’s markets and with strong Mandarin, Cantonese, and English language skills.

Talent shortage: There is a shortage of marketing professionals with specific skills (such as automation customization) in the financial, IT and professional services sectors. Professionals with strong digital skills are also in short supply.

Contract roles: Last year, the demand for contract roles began to increase and will keep on rising this year. The aim is to support companies in their digital transformation projects.

Legal

Legal positions are becoming more difficult to fill in Hong Kong after several years of talent shortages. Knowledge of the Chinese language remains a necessary skill for many legal openings.

Legal Roles in Demand

  • Global markets lawyers in the banking/financial services sector
  • Trust and custody lawyers
  • Senior litigation and regulatory lawyers
  • Investigative law positions
  • Professionals in the insurance, brokerage and private banking sectors
  • PQE corporate finance lawyers with up to five years’ experience
  • Senior lawyers with strong insurance regulatory experience
  • Private Commonwealth-qualified lawyers
  • Corporate TMT professionals with experience in fin-tech

Skills Most in Demand

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Knowledge of a Chinese language
  • ISDA negotiation experience
  • Financial services regulatory litigation experience
  • Experience in virtual banking and cryptocurrency

Information Technology

IT is and will remain a key growth sector in Hong Kong. Innovation specialists, digital transformation professionals and experts in data and product development are especially sought after. As telecommunication companies focus more on operational efficiency, talents in the technology field will be needed. E-commerce will continue to drive much of the demand for talent.

Talent Shortages

Employers in Hong Kong’s burgeoning high-tech sector are increasingly challenged to fill positions for experienced, qualified IT professionals with specific skills.

Due to the shortage of local talent, companies, especially start-ups, are looking to hire foreign candidates in areas such as blockchain, big data, AI and fin-tech.

Roles in Demand

  • Specialists in infrastructure, cybercrime, and cybersecurity
  • Data analysts, data scientists and IT architects to help companies improve their digital presence
  • Sales and pre-sales professionals
  • Product manager (technical)
  • Compensation and benefits specialist
  • Transformation leaders
  • Experts in Artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain and machine learning across many industries, from supply chain and insurance to property
  • Professionals with experience in cloud computing, big data, DevOps, analytics
  • E-commerce project managers
  • Developers with experience with Java, C# and PHP web development

Skills in Demand

  • Big data analysis and pricing analysis for managing customers relationships and sales data
  • Communication skills
  • Technical knowledge and business savviness to drive Return On Investment
  • E-commerce and digital marketing



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