Hong Kong’s banking job race on the rise

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Banks are more selective in their recruitment at Hong Kong 2022, but there is strong demand for talent to focus on advising clients on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) related transactions.

Banks are taking different approaches as they seek to build their ESG advisory expertise in Hong Kong and China, creating dedicated teams and deploying their existing group of sector bankers.

For banks, ESG activity has expanded beyond issuing green bonds to advising clients on how they are switching portfolios and business models, resulting in acquiring companies offering new technologies and the sale of fossil fuel-related assets.

Some banks have created new positions to meet this demand. UBS, for example, has appointed Brendan Tu to the newly created position of Head of ESG Consulting for APAC, based in Hong Kong. You report to Laurent Bouvier, Global Head of ESG Consulting in London and locally to Gaetano Bassolino, Head of Global Banking for APAC. Tu joined UBS after three years as Chief Investment Officer of Foxconn Industrial Internet.

Meanwhile, Citigroup has appointed Raphael Erasmus like the newly created Head of Sustainability and Enterprise Transitions (SCT) at its Banking and Advisory Capital Markets (BCMA) group in Asia-Pacific, according to a statement. Citi created SCT as a global team led by Keith Tuffley and Bridget Fawcett in 2020.

Erasmus has moved from London to Singapore where she reports to BCMA APAC Manager Jan Metzger, Singapore Country Manager Amol Gupte as well as Tuffley. Moreover, last October, Citi appointed William Tightness to the new position of Head of Natural Resources & Clean Energy Transition (NRCET) Investment Banking Asia.

Citi’s BCMA unit reported record revenues in APAC in 2021, raising more than US$34 billion for Hong Kong capital markets clients, a third of which was ESG-related. Angel Ng, CEO of the bank for Hong and Macao, said in a note.

Leading an ESG advisory unit acts as a focal point for a bank’s efforts, but the reality is that banks lay most of the blame on its sector teams and in banks like Citi and Bank of America, all front office bankers are expected to serve clients through an ESG lens. “We have hundreds of bankers who are interested in ESG,” said a source at Citi. ESG affects customers at all levels, which is why banks want all employees to be able to act as ESG champions.

Banks like Citigroup and HSBC have long-standing business lending relationships where the onus is on the bank to help customers get to net zero. HSBC created a global ESG solutions unit in 2020, led by Hong Kong-based Jonathan Drew.

For banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which are more focused on generating deal flow, ESG coverage – for now – remains within sector teams. “We don’t want to create silos, we’re all ESG bankers now,” a Western investment banking source said.

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