Hays identifies talent trends for the region in 2019.

Forward Thinking in Hong Kong

Hays have suggested that Hong Kong’s talent trends in 2019 will mostly slant in favour of technical specialists in data and finance, with candidates in these areas set to remain in short supply. This is one of ten trends the business has identified for the region. 

“We are seeing that data science and digital infrastructure are all-the-rage as more and more companies in Hong Kong are unravelling the advantages of data technology,” says Jack Leung, business director of Hays Hong Kong. “To enhance their big data capabilities, organisations are also ramping up efforts in building integrated data pipelines, data warehouses, and cloud-based data-lakes.

“Furthermore, there have been increased investments in cloud technologies to boost data protection, reduce costs, and increase efficiency,” he says. “As such, data scientists, data engineers and cloud computing specialists will continue to be highly regarded by employers in the coming year.”

The Hays Hong Kong Top 10 Talent Trends for 2019 also reveals how regulatory forces are also shaping the way in which companies in Hong Kong are approaching their risk management and compliance.

“To keep pace with the changes in regulations, the banking & financial services sector is expanding their operational, credit and market risk operations, on top of their compliance functions,” notes Jack.

“Quite notably, organisations have been seeking contractors and temporary staffing to execute their risk-related projects to attract top talents, on top of offering them attractive salary packages for such roles,” says Dean Stallard, managing director of Hays Greater Bay Area. “Contracting will definitely prove to be beneficial for candidates in this sector who want to contribute to quality projects and develop their skills. Taking on temporary assignments also brings an added benefit for candidates looking to expand their professional networks.

“To add, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) –– which is considered the third largest trading area in the world and an up-and-coming technology hub –– is opening doors for a highly mobile workforce,” says Dean. “As its economy picks up, the GBA becomes a huge investment destination for many organisations across most industries and will remain attractive to top talent through 2019. Not to mention, the influx of investments from Mainland China is resulting in a wealth of opportunities for job seekers.

“It is also heartening to see that businesses in Hong Kong are also placing greater emphasis on gender diversity in the workplace, on top of several sectors in the market exercising workplace flexibility. While adopting a progressive approach to their talent strategy, employers are also discerning when it comes to the personality and cultural fit of a candidate. Both businesses and employees stand to gain in being highly adaptable to change in this ever-evolving world of work.”

Hays Top 10 talent trends for 2019 in Hong Kong are:


1. Contract roles in banks & financial services

There is a high volume of vacancies for middle and back-office contracting roles to support new regulations, compliance and remediation projects across the banking & financial services industry. With new stringent regulations surrounding the risk function, companies will include new headcount in operational risk, credit risk and market risk to keep pace with the industry.

2. Project management

Banks and financial institutions are investing heavily in technology projects to enhance the trade lifecycle, resulting in a significant increase in demand for contract hires who are experienced project managers and business analysts. However, there has been a dire dearth in immediately available, top-quality candidates in this area.

3. Data Science

Data scientists will continue to be in growing demand, especially those who are capable of developing accurate propensity or predictive models through different methodologies such as clustering or logistic regression. Candidates with adept programming skills in Python and R, along with an in-depth knowledge of machine learning are highly valued in the market, can command competitive salary packages.

4. Digital Infrastructure

Data engineers continue to play a critical role in digital infrastructure as they design and implement ETL processes to enrich the growing data warehouse and cloud-based data lakes. Those with knowledge and experience in big data technologies such as Hadoop, Spark, EMR, Pig and Mongo DB will enjoy leverage in their job search.

5. FinTech is driving demand in the operational risk space

FinTech is growing exponentially in Hong Kong. As banks in Hong Kong apply for their virtual banking licenses and are required to comply with e-banking regulations, there is a growing need for operational risk experts. Fraud risk candidates, particularly those with knowledge of the Faster Payment System (FPS), are also highly sought-after.

6. Compliance in banking & financial services

The regulatory changes within the banking & financial services market also urgently call for compliance specialists. Although there is a decline in job creation for transaction monitoring roles, financial crime compliance units have shifted their focus to investigations and sanctions advisory. With the majority of banks offshoring their Know Your Customer (KYC) teams to low-cost countries/regions, there is a greater need for support of KYC and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) advisories locally. In sum, KYC advisory, investigations and sanctions will be the key hiring focus for financial crime compliance this year.

7. Diversity and inclusion

Employers, especially MNCs, are increasingly aware of the importance in diversity and inclusion. As such, Hong Kong is leading the way in implementing diversity and inclusion targets or KPIs within their organisations. According to a survey by Hays across five of its operating markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Mainland China and Japan, 41 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong were in organisations which indeed set diversity and inclusion targets or KPIs for their employees. This is in contrast to the 33 per cent average across Asia. The respondents in Hong Kong also cite company culture, organisation leadership and staff morale as the top benefits which greater diversity and inclusion could present in the workplace.

8. Personality and cultural fit

Besides technical competencies, a candidates’ personality and cultural fit in a working environment are becoming important considerations for employers. The key qualities include personal accountability, EQ and conflict resolution management.

9. Flexibility in the workplace

With the help of technology, workplace flexibility is gradually being made available to employees in Hong Kong. In the aforementioned survey by Hays, 52 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong felt that their organisation promotes flexible working opportunities for all staff. This is a higher percentage than that of the average in Asia, at 40 per cent of respondents with the same sentiment. This approach has proven effective for MNCs in Hong Kong, as reflected in their lower staff turnover rates.

10. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

With the introduction of the GDPR law, candidates have more control of their personal data and this will undoubtedly influence the way in which recruitment is carried out in Hong Kong. On the backend of this, we are seeing a rise in newly introduced roles to comply with the new law.

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