Which has been worse for the Hong Kong banking job market? COVID-19 or the city's 2019 civil unrest. New data suggests its COVID-19 hands down.
Hong Kong-based job vacancies at Credit Suisse stood at 33 on Tuesday, down from 54 a year previously, a 39% decline, according to Thinknum, a data provider that tracks companies using information they post online, including their jobs. Bank of America has suffered a dramatic 86.6% fall, from 79 Hong Kong openings 12 months ago to just 9 earlier this week. The results for individual banks are shown in the tables below.
As an Asia-focused bank which usually has hundreds of Hong Kong jobs available, Standard Chartered is a bellwether for hiring in the territory. Having imposed a freeze on non-critical recruitment on 30 March, Stan Chart’s local vacancies have plunged 80.5% over the course of the past year – from 303 to 59. Morgan Stanley fared somewhat better than the other banks that Thinknum has analysed, but its Hong Kong job postings were still down 16%. The banks have not verified the numbers.
These double-digit declines are not the result of a booming job market last July, because Hong Kong was at the time in the throes of pro-democracy protests, which made 2019 a less-than-stellar year for recruitment in banking. Instead they reflect the crippling impact of the pandemic, which hit Hong Kong in late January, on recruitment. The usual February-to-March spike in vacancies, which occurs soon after Chinese New Year and the payment of bonuses, did not take place in 2020.
“Banks in Hong Kong cut much of their planned hiring in February/March when Covid arrived. They became more risk adverse to recruiting and had logistical problems arranging video interviews,” says John Mullally, regional director, South China and Hong Kong, at Robert Walters. “Some of that hiring was pushed into April/May, but not all of it,” he adds.
Thinknum has more limited jobs data for HSBC (for 2020 only) that shows how bad this bonus season was in hiring terms. HSBC’s Hong Kong vacancies have fallen by 42.8% just since February, with a steep decline in late March after the bank froze non-essential recruitment.
Credit Suisse: Hong Kong job postings, July 2019 to July 2020
Standard Charted: Hong Kong job postings, July 2019 to July 2020
Bank of America: Hong Kong job postings, July 2019 to July 2020
Morgan Stanley: Hong Kong job postings, July 2019 to July 2020
HSBC: year-to-date Hong Kong job postings
Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash
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