Bankers Who Want to Work in Asia Need to Learn Mandarin

Bankers who wish to relocate to Asia will need to start learning Mandarin if they want to land a job, according to a prominent financial services headhunter.

Research completed by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden indicates that there is now a significant demand in Asia for professional financial services personnel who can speak Mandarin, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore. As a direct result of the global financial crisis, which has seen thousands of bankers lose their jobs throughout the world, recruiting banks in Asia can now be choosier who they select; top of their list of desirable qualities, it seems, is language skills.

According to Astbury Marsden, bankers who are looking to relocate to Asia for the first time will now find it incredibly difficult if they do not have Mandarin-speaking skills. The rise of wealth in China entails that such banks have a large number of clients from Mainland China who are looking to invest in stable financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong. As such, they expect their employees to have the skills needed to communicate with these customers.

Commenting on the ways in which demand has changed, Mark O’Reilly, managing director of Astbury Marsden Asia Pacific, told UK newspaper The Telegraph: “For British expat bankers, having the technical skills and experience is no longer enough. If your role in a bank or investment house is to deal with a Mainland Chinese client, you are now expected to be fluent in Mandarin.

“There are still plenty of jobs in Hong Kong where you just deal with other English speakers but with the growth of Chinese banks, insurers and other corporates those jobs are a shrinking proportion of the pie.”

For those expats that do have Mandarin-speaking skills job prospects are looking good. There is a current deficit of such skills in most areas of merger and acquisitions (M&A), management consultancy and private banking. While for those that have yet to master Mandarin roles do still exist in trading and compliance work.

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