I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a brief update on the IT market for Q1 2014. At Pinpoint Asia, we specialize in two main sectors (a) Finance Technology (b) Hi-Tech/Commerce sector.
The main trends are below:
Nature of roles:
We saw a big increase in the number of contracting roles across banks and global insurance firms. With our clients in the Investment Banking Technology sector, there were far more contracting roles compared to permanent roles. The main reason for this was because the banks were (and still are) finding it much harder to secure approvals for permanent headcounts due to the uncertainties still prevailing in the market. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that the contracting market in Hong Kong is not as mature as it is in the UK/US. Essentially, we are looking at perm base salaries for contract roles.
Type of roles:
There was a significant increase in hiring in the Compliance/Risk area because of the increased regulatory requirements in the sector. We saw a lot of hiring by various banks for BAs/developers/PMs in the Risk area, including very senior level hires to build reporting systems and to ensure that their trading environment were compliant with the new regulations. Candidates who have knowledge of regulations across trading in different asset classes, market microstructures and exchange rules were in demand. Also, new roles were created for developers who are strong in Core Java and/or C++ on a Linux/Unix platform by various banks/market makers and brokers. Low latency development expertise was particularly in strong demand.
On the Insurance front, we saw requirements for Project Managers/Programme Managers for new initiatives including major consolidation projects and expansion projects.
Trend compared to 2013:
The hiring volume in the banks has not seen a big increase because (a) banks continue to outsource a lot of jobs to lower cost locations like India/Philippines and Singapore (although not as much now as Singapore is becoming increasingly expensive) (b) Banks find it harder to get headcount approval to hire in expensive locations like Hong Kong.
That said, a lot of the Front Office roles (Dev/Support/RAD) still need to be based in Hong Kong. We don’t see a tremendous improvement in hiring this year compared to last year but we are cautiously optimistic about it. Vendors, market makers and brokers are still expanding and recruiting
Type of roles:
Outside the finance sector, we saw a lot of roles opening up in the hi-tech area with many new hi-tech firms coming into Hong Kong to build out data centers. These companies were recruiting infrastructure professionals (LAN/WAN/Cabling/Networking), Technical Account Managers, Relationship Managers and so on.
With our Commerce Clients, we saw a significant increase in UX/UI roles as well as roles in the J2EE/C# ASP.NET space.
General infrastructure support roles (Desktop Support/Network Support) were also in demand.