River Insights: Hong Kong Strategy Talent War

Hong Kong: Strategy Talent War

High demand in Hong Kong FS industry for Strategy VPs and Associates with 2-7 years experience.

River’s Helen Prudhoe, Head of International Strategy Practice,  has polled 60 FSI and consulting clients and contacts across the region in Nov and Dec 2015 to provide a live view of the HK market. Lets see what she found:

Small candidate pool:

  • Three top tier strategy firms lost approximately 40% of Senior Associates in HK in 2015
  • High competition from direct FS competitors; 49 out of 60 polled decision makers (representatives from the 30 largest FSIs with operations in HK) either are currently or intend to recruit for a VP Strategy (or equivalent) in HK in 2016
  • HK also suffers an ongoing compounding issue serving to reduce the candidate pool – regional competition. Many global FSI’s and strategy consulting firms continue to choose SE Asia hubs in Singapore; and hubs covering Greater China in Beijing/Shanghai


Increased competition for traditional FSI from all sides including new entrants:

  • ‘Fin-tech fever’ – the increasing capital investment in Fintech across APAC (see fig 1.) has naturally grabbed the attention of much of the regions top talent


Decreasing interest in banks:

  • In a separate River poll of 50 strategy AVPs and Associates in HK, SG and China, 78% stated they have a preference to join a technology/fin-tech or start-up firm over a bank
  • Interestingly, the poll suggested Insurance, Payments and Wealth Management sub-sectors are still fairly attractive probably due to perceived growth potential

Investment in APAC fintech on the rise 


3 top tips to win the talent war in 2016

1.      Understand and ‘sell’ the basic key drivers for strategy professionals, these remain:

  • Growth of the firm and continued investment into APAC
  • Proximity to the business / leadership team
  • International projects – opportunity to work as part of a global strategy team while not having to travel extensively
  • Nature of projects – growth strategy, digital strategy, market entry and acquisition screening among the most interesting
  • Clear career progression


2.      Widen candidate pool by searching across multiple locations

  • River partners with many of our clients to target mandarin speakers in financial hubs globally and convince them to return to the region


3.      Ensure a slick, engaging and swift interview process

  • A well run process with direct & early line management involvement helps avoid counter-offers and losing candidates to competitors
  • In 2015, River observed banking counter-offers were up in Asia by 65%

To view or download the full newsletter, please see here: Hong Kong VP Talent War - FEB.pdf

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