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CLSA hires new Hong Kong traders to prove fightback is real

CLSA is fighting back following a wave of departures as a fixed income trading  boom has sparked a hiring offensive across the industry.

CLSA has increased pay by 30% to retain junior staff and is also boosting compensation as seeks to recruit senior talent from Chinese rivals.  Now it has hired Henry Yip as head of fixed income sales from China Construction Bank International (CCBI), while Carl Wang has joined in high yield credit trading from CEB International.

Wang’s hire underlines the new approach CLSA has adopted to lure talent – sources say CLSA originally approached him last autumn. “Following the departures CLSA has committed to being more aggressive on pay,” said one banker. 

The hiring offensive comes after the Citic-owned brokerage was hit by a wave of departures from its fixed income sales and trading teams.

The departures began in January when Leo Tong quit to join Japan’s  SMBC Nikko as head of fixed income and capital markets, taking a team with him  including Gary Lam and Luke Yang.  At least seven staff have quit, including three to new bond trading platform Trumid.

The exodus from Citic was sparked by internal upheaval after its parent is said to have cut risk limits. But it’s also been driven by a battle for talent as international and Chinese firms look to keep pace with a trading boom.

Over at SMBC, Tong is building his team. Francis Hong from Citic Bank International, Citic’s Hong Kong subsidiary, has joined in investment grade credit trading.

Citic Bank International has retaliated with two senior hires – it has recruited Ted Liu as head of credit trading from Guotai Junan International and also lured Dennis Di Shen from Citibank to join its investment grade credit trading team.

One reason for the recruitment offensive is that China’s high yield market is booming and banks are scrambling to serve new issuers. “Everyone wants to get in on the action,” says Akshay Mirpuri, head of fixed income trading recruitment at Eton Clarke. “At times it can seem like musical chairs where one move instigates a chain reaction. It seems inevitable there will continue to be more hires and moves in the second quarter.” 

Western firms are also expanding and looking to pluck talent from Chinese firms which generally cannot compete on pay. Goldman Sachs is building up its trading business in Hong Kong following the appointment last summer of Conor Yuan as head of emerging markets credit flow trading in Asia.  Yuan, the former head of UBS’s Asia credit trading operations, replaced Amanda Wu, who joined Morgan Stanley.  "Chinese firms are proving themselves more willing to match western firms in terms of paying up to retain talent," said Mirpuri. 

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Photo by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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