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While there are bits and pieces of information on lifestyle and banking in Hong Kong, few threads have the full overview. Can someone please give the general overview of the career path in Hong Kong? I read somewhere that in HK, most IB analysts stay on as associates as compared to NY, where analysts move to PE or HF. Also, while most threads just say tax rate is "lower" because its 15%, few clarified that you have to pay US taxes too, except that you're exempt for the first 90k provided that you meet a few prerequisites. So can someone working in HK give the full picture of a career in Hong Kong?

Topics that will be helpful:
1. Is compensation in PE really lower than that of IB in HK?
2. What about HF analyst compensation? How established are hedge funds in HK? Anything different about HFs in HK and those in NY?
3. Hours are longer than NY. True or False?
4. Housing stipend? Still exist or something in the past?
5. Year-end bonus - what's the usual range?
6. People say HK is more fun than NY. Care to explain why? I was a SA in HK and didn't get to party much. Barely at all to be accurate.
7. How are the girls there? Are there any hot white girls or mostly Asian? Do you converse with them in clubs/bars with English or Chinese?
8. What is the recruiting process for PE and HF? Do headhunters reach out to IB analysts or is the process more unstructured? An overview would be great.
9. Also, for those of you who've been to Macau, how are the Macau girls that hang around the casinos and hotels? I heard they're excellent quality, but is sexual diseases common?

Basically I'm trying to make this a discussion that captures all the scattered bits and pieces and provide a full-picture of working in Hong Kong.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

Comments (48)

  • inthe213's picture
  • Aero's picture

    TheFisher wrote:
    While there are bits and pieces of information on lifestyle and banking in Hong Kong, few threads have the full overview. Can someone please give the general overview of the career path in Hong Kong? I read somewhere that in HK, most IB analysts stay on as associates as compared to NY, where analysts move to PE or HF. Also, while most threads just say tax rate is "lower" because its 15%, few clarified that you have to pay US taxes too, except that you're exempt for the first 90k provided that you meet a few prerequisites. So can someone working in HK give the full picture of a career in Hong Kong?

    Topics that will be helpful:
    1. Is compensation in PE really lower than that of IB in HK?
    2. What about HF analyst compensation? How established are hedge funds in HK? Anything different about HFs in HK and those in NY?
    3. Hours are longer than NY. True or False?
    4. Housing stipend? Still exist or something in the past?
    5. Year-end bonus - what's the usual range?
    6. People say HK is more fun than NY. Care to explain why? I was a SA in HK and didn't get to party much. Barely at all to be accurate.
    7. How are the girls there? Are there any hot white girls or mostly Asian? Do you converse with them in clubs/bars with English or Chinese?

    Basically I'm trying to make this a discussion that captures all the scattered bits and pieces and provide a full-picture of working in Hong Kong.

    Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

    I can only comment on the last two, as I’ve only lived in HK, not worked. I currently work in NY.

    HK is more fun than NY for many reasons. It’s warm year-round, cleaner, and easier to get around. There’s also more of diversity of things to do. There’s a huge nightlife scene but also beaches, mountains, islands etc, Happy Valley, etc not more than 30 minutes away. Always interesting events year round like Rugby Sevens, Dragonboats, etc. Tons of open bar deals where you pay $20 and drink all you want. Another cool thing is it’s so cheap and fast to pop over to Thailand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. Tons of crazy shit to do in those places. The last thing that I think is overlooked sometimes is the expat community. Hard to explain but it’s real easy to meet new people and make connections.

    Most of the cute girls I saw were Chinese. Not all tho

  • TheFisher's picture

    And do these Chinese girls converse in English or Chinese? I know the obvious answer here is Chinese but people always say HK is so international...

  • Quarterlife's picture

    About the pay in Hong Kong, WSJ just had a new article on how expats in Hong Kong, China, India and Vietnam receive the lowest take-home pay (keep in mind that the article didn't say much about cost of living) among those surveyed countries so we can't draw the quality of life among them)

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240531119041...

    My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

  • International Pymp's picture

    As I understand it - The pay in HK at major banks and PE firms is global pay that is 100% inline with what you'd get paid in the U.S...

    Hong Kong has some hot girls, primarily asians, but from what I've noticed they're not quite as friendly as girls on the mainland and less hot as well.

    I don't speak cantonese so I always speak english with HK girls... NEVER speak to them in mandarin or they'll be offended.... actually don't speak to anyone in HK in mandarin unless they start of speaking mandarin to you or it's just a waitress or something... they could be pissed.

  • TheFisher's picture

    ^ I don't speak Mandarin, but curious why?

  • International Pymp's picture

    I don't 100% understand it, but I think it's because some HK people feel they are above mainlanders, and they don't want to be confused as a mainlander... it's not quite like Taiwan, where people consider themselves from a different country, but there is a hint of that --- another theory is they get pissed off when white people speak mandarin better than they do (most native cantonese speakers have very bad tones in mandarin).... I'm not really sure

  • In reply to International Pymp
    sgang135's picture

    International Pymp wrote:
    I don't 100% understand it, but I think it's because some HK people feel they are above mainlanders, and they don't want to be confused as a mainlander... it's not quite like Taiwan, where people consider themselves from a different country, but there is a hint of that --- another theory is they get pissed off when white people speak mandarin better than they do (most native cantonese speakers have very bad tones in mandarin).... I'm not really sure

    Haha I highly doubt its because they have bad tones in Mandarin.

  • In reply to sgang135
    Kanon's picture

    sgang135 wrote:
    International Pymp wrote:
    I don't 100% understand it, but I think it's because some HK people feel they are above mainlanders, and they don't want to be confused as a mainlander... it's not quite like Taiwan, where people consider themselves from a different country, but there is a hint of that --- another theory is they get pissed off when white people speak mandarin better than they do (most native cantonese speakers have very bad tones in mandarin).... I'm not really sure

    Haha I highly doubt its because they have bad tones in Mandarin.

    I only visit HK from time to time, but from what I gather, it's sort of the thought that they are 'above mainlanders' like Pymp said. Because in the past, people that came out of China that go to HK to make it big were seen as less educated, naive or 'backwards'. It's like the whole idea of a country boy or girl (or those seen as yokels) going to NYC to try and make it big. Mainlanders were also seen as crude, lacking etiquette/poise, or different in ethics (it doesn't help things when you hear of crap like fake baby formula sold that's harmful to babies, fake produce/eggs manufactured, bodily organs being harvested from Shenzhen, kids being kidnapped and have their limbs chopped off and forced to beg, etc.)

    It is only fairly recently that China has produced a lot of "new money" types and have been heading to HK - buying up expensive brands or buying up real estate properties. I think there's less animosity towards those from China now (at least those who are seen as middle or upper class), but it still exists. They may see it as China affecting their way of life - now mandarin is being taught in schools, becoming an important skill for work, their real estate properties going up in value (both good and bad - but for those still looking to buy, definitely bad), etc.

    I have a friend who's an expat (he's Indian who's got Western education) that won a bid to rent a new place, but he didn't have the highest bid. When he asked the landlord why he got it, she said the other bidder was someone from China/mainlander and she didn't want to rent to them. This could be her prejudice, but HK also has poor laws that don't protect landlord rights (there are cases where people can hole themselves in an apartment and not pay rent... and I guess a lot of those cases were mainlanders). Conversely, expats are generally treated well in HK (since a lot of expats are in very lucrative fields like banking, consulting, etc). That's how he explained it to me, anyway, and afterwards I had that confirmed by a few other friends and relatives in the city.

  • BanditPandit's picture

    ^ That is correct.

    North vs. Southern Chinese stigmas at work. HK sees it as the "black money" (ie black market).encroachment on their QoL. Standard of living has not been that high in HK traditionally-safe to guess 70%+ of mall goers are from the mainland. You'll see differences in lines waiting to enter "luxury" stores (eg Chanel) that weren't there several years ago. Many residents still adhere to the traditional form of handwriting. The autonomous philosophy is still prevalent in the area, and residents tend to be very prideful about that.

    If you have yellow fever, the place is crawling with all kinds. STDs included.

  • In reply to sgang135
    Kenny_Powers_CFA's picture

    sgang135 wrote:
    International Pymp wrote:
    I don't 100% understand it, but I think it's because some HK people feel they are above mainlanders, and they don't want to be confused as a mainlander... it's not quite like Taiwan, where people consider themselves from a different country, but there is a hint of that --- another theory is they get pissed off when white people speak mandarin better than they do (most native cantonese speakers have very bad tones in mandarin).... I'm not really sure

    Haha I highly doubt its because they have bad tones in Mandarin.

    I always figured it was because Hong Kong was pretty much the only place that was excluded from the forced Mandarinization that happened to the rest of China in the past 100 years and they're proud of being a Cantonese hold-out.

    There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.

  • In reply to Kenny_Powers_CFA
    Kanon's picture

    Kenny_Powers_CFA wrote:
    sgang135 wrote:
    International Pymp wrote:
    I don't 100% understand it, but I think it's because some HK people feel they are above mainlanders, and they don't want to be confused as a mainlander... it's not quite like Taiwan, where people consider themselves from a different country, but there is a hint of that --- another theory is they get pissed off when white people speak mandarin better than they do (most native cantonese speakers have very bad tones in mandarin).... I'm not really sure

    Haha I highly doubt its because they have bad tones in Mandarin.

    I always figured it was because Hong Kong was pretty much the only place that was excluded from the forced Mandarinization that happened to the rest of China in the past 100 years and they're proud of being a Cantonese hold-out.

    Well there are some southern cities in China that also speak Cantonese.

    But I think a lot of it has to do with the different values, and being different from 'communist China' of old. A partner from my firm mentioned he used to work in HK (he's caucasian). He thought that part of the reason why HK has expanded so quickly during the growth phases in the 60-70's is partly because of the origin of people there. During the revolution, the shift towards communism, some of the wealthier or better-off Chinese fled from China. His guess is that a lot of these wealthier or enterprising Chinese's traditions, way of thinking, education, combined with the capitalist format of the city, helped contribute to growth. It's an interesting theory.

    An interesting side note: HK used to be extremely corrupt. It wasn't until they introduced the ICAC in the 70's (an agency against corruption) that HK was able to become a recognized place for business, investment and expansion by the west.

    On Bandit's point for HK doesn't traditionally have high quality of life...HK has great wealth disparity, and those who can afford it, can live like kings. But those who don't, in worse case scenarios, are on the street or have to pay for 'cage homes' (there's a video on CNN about this). Agreed on the whole Chanel store line-ups point. People go to HK for luxury goods because: 1) No sales tax, 2) They're worried about getting fake stuff in China, even in the legit stores.

    Though on the languages - I'm not sure why the Chinese government made the move to move to 'simplified Chinese' writing as opposed to keeping the 'traditional Chinese' (I'm sure it's explained by history, but I don't know too much on this). Chinese characters, however - the way they are put together - explain the background and reasoning as to how a word comes to be. Some of that gets lost in the simplified writing.

  • MrV's picture

    Going to attempt to sway the thread back to OP's question.
    Only going to answer the questions I know based on talking to friends in HK doing IB and my time in HK

    1) I don't know about PE compensation, but IB compensation is in line with NY street standard.
    3) Hours are more or less in line with NY hours, but more "not going to go anywhere" work is done.
    4) I've asked about the housing stipend and 3+ analyst friends say its still there, which is contradictory to what I've heard in the press about HK doing away with these lucrative "expat packages". But hey, I'm trusting my sources more. In any case, it's unlikely the full cost of housing will be covered, but its nice that some of the rent will be subsidized.
    6) Ever been to LKF?
    7) LKF? Everyone speaks English. Mostly expats, asian american/canadian girls, study abroad crowds. But I have to say, if you can speak decent Cantonese in HK, you're going to unlock the door to another social network, and girls. ofc.

    Banking.

  • In reply to MrV
    Vz's picture

    MrV wrote:
    Going to attempt to sway the thread back to OP's question.
    Only going to answer the questions I know based on talking to friends in HK doing IB and my time in HK

    1) I don't know about PE compensation, but IB compensation is in line with NY street standard.
    3) Hours are more or less in line with NY hours, but more "not going to go anywhere" work is done.
    4) I've asked about the housing stipend and 3+ analyst friends say its still there, which is contradictory to what I've heard in the press about HK doing away with these lucrative "expat packages". But hey, I'm trusting my sources more. In any case, it's unlikely the full cost of housing will be covered, but its nice that some of the rent will be subsidized.
    6) Ever been to LKF?
    7) LKF? Everyone speaks English. Mostly expats, asian american/canadian girls, study abroad crowds. But I have to say, if you can speak decent Cantonese in HK, you're going to unlock the door to another social network, and girls. ofc.

    MrV - on the housing stipend - how much is it usually and do you know if US/UK/global boutiques based in HK give them out too? Like HLHZ, Evercore, BDA, Lexicon Partners or whoever else is out there?

    Also is it available to lateral analysts/associates? Is it available annually or just a one-time thing like a moving expense?

  • Ukon's picture

    See below:

    1. Is compensation in PE really lower than that of IB in HK?
    Depends. But definitely not meaningfully higher, unlike that in NYC and London.

    2. What about HF analyst compensation? How established are hedge funds in HK? Anything different about HFs in HK and those in NY?
    Can't really answer this one.

    3. Hours are longer than NY. True or False?
    Depends. But typically longer hours in order to entertain many unprofessional clients and some clueless senior bankers. Also need to translate English to Chinese and Chinese to English. Zero value-added...

    4. Housing stipend? Still exist or something in the past?
    Still exists. Was taken away during the crisis and now is given back.

    5. Year-end bonus - what's the usual range?
    ~20 - 30% higher than NYC for BB typically.

    6. People say HK is more fun than NY. Care to explain why? I was a SA in HK and didn't get to party much. Barely at all to be accurate.
    I have to disagree on this. HK is a city with no culture IMO. Still, it depends what you are looking for. I am not a big fan of partying, clubbing or drinking and thus do not find HK lifestyle any attractive comparing to that of NYC.

    7. How are the girls there? Are there any hot white girls or mostly Asian? Do you converse with them in clubs/bars with English or Chinese?
    Since I don't party that much, I can't really comment on this too much. But mostly Asian as far as I know. They speak English, Chinese and Cantonese.

    8. What is the recruiting process for PE and HF? Do headhunters reach out to IB analysts or is the process more unstructured? An overview would be great.
    Very unstructured. Most recruiting activities are off-cycle except for a few large funds. Large funds will use HH from New York, London and HK to help recruit. Smaller funds rely more on local HH and internal referral. Certain megafunds prefer NYC and London candidates a lot more due to better M&A and high yield deal flow and stronger technical and modeling skills according to two NYC based HH and a PE partner that I met during their reception luncheon. Other funds prefer local candidates due to their familiarity with the local and regional business model.

    9. Also, for those of you who've been to Macau, how are the Macau girls that hang around the casinos and hotels? I heard they're excellent quality, but is sexual diseases common?
    Lol. Can't comment on this. But I do have friends going to Macau on a regular basis for this (and yes, he is a banker at a BB) and so far seems that he is still fine. Haha.

  • ballmouse's picture

    Regarding the Mandarin discussion, English will help you more than Mandarin in Hong Kong. The most useful is obviously Cantonese.

  • TheFisher's picture

    So do most IB analysts move to the buyside after their 2 year stint in Hong Kong or do they stay in sell-side? Trying to get a feel for the general norm.

    Also, more input on Q8, 9 and HF in HK will be great.

  • ZIRH's picture

    I have a couple of friends who work there, some contacts working in HK on a more senior level. Based on my understanding, or what I was told, there is less of a structure for buy-side recruiting in HK than in the US. Firstly, the financial markets are not as sophisticated, so less leveraged buy-outs, etc. But, if you ask me, between complexity of finance vs. relationships, I'd say the latter is much more complicated.

    Secondly, investment banking is going through a really interesting phase right now in Asia. There is a lot of ECM activity, companies are going public in HK, Shenzhen and Shanghai, and the M&A market is starting to develop. There is good dealflow and you get to build lifelong networks staying in banking.

    Hence, given the push factor (no structured recruiting + less developed buy-side market), and the pull factors (good dealflow + pay), people tend to stay in banking. Btw, the major players in PE in hong kong and china are not the megafunds we hear about in the US, it's the local funds that are calling the shots.

  • In reply to Vz
    MrV's picture

    Vz wrote:
    MrV wrote:
    Going to attempt to sway the thread back to OP's question.
    Only going to answer the questions I know based on talking to friends in HK doing IB and my time in HK

    1) I don't know about PE compensation, but IB compensation is in line with NY street standard.
    3) Hours are more or less in line with NY hours, but more "not going to go anywhere" work is done.
    4) I've asked about the housing stipend and 3+ analyst friends say its still there, which is contradictory to what I've heard in the press about HK doing away with these lucrative "expat packages". But hey, I'm trusting my sources more. In any case, it's unlikely the full cost of housing will be covered, but its nice that some of the rent will be subsidized.
    6) Ever been to LKF?
    7) LKF? Everyone speaks English. Mostly expats, asian american/canadian girls, study abroad crowds. But I have to say, if you can speak decent Cantonese in HK, you're going to unlock the door to another social network, and girls. ofc.

    MrV - on the housing stipend - how much is it usually and do you know if US/UK/global boutiques based in HK give them out too? Like HLHZ, Evercore, BDA, Lexicon Partners or whoever else is out there?

    Also is it available to lateral analysts/associates? Is it available annually or just a one-time thing like a moving expense?

    It's available annually. Cant give a number as I've heard unreliable ranges from 10k-20k USD

    Banking.

  • TheFisher's picture

    MrV, care to address Q8 & 9?

  • ibhopeful532's picture

    Housing stipend:

    At BB's it ranges from 180k HKD (~23K US) to 240 HKD (~30K US). Basically how it works is that you get your housing paid for.

    15% tax rates for non-US, if you are US you dont pay taxes first year because you dont make enough by December (90k expat threshold).

    Bonuses are at least as much as NY, often bigger.

    Hours are longer - more travel, more simultaneous staffings.

    Food typically you get 200-240HKD/night and 480 on weekends (240hkd =~30-35USD). Throw in the plenty of restaurants that give 30-50% off to bankers with Amex/HSBC premier cards and generally lower cost of foods --> eating at Le Garden/Mandarin Oriental on a daily basis.

    Lots of cash, lots of experience, lots of work, some fun downtime (LKF, macau, anywhere in China/SE asia an hour or two's flight away), little sleep.

  • ibhopeful532's picture

    Oh one caveat - if you can't do Chinese at a junior level, better to stay in NY.

  • WaterMargin's picture

    ^ How proficient in Chinese to be? I can read and speak, but can barely write (type is good though). Also, when you say Chinese, are you talking about being able to explain the model/corporate finance in Chinese or just being able to talk to the waitress in Chinese?

  • In reply to WaterMargin
    Kenny_Powers_CFA's picture

    WaterMargin wrote:
    ^ How proficient in Chinese to be? I can read and speak, but can barely write (type is good though). Also, when you say Chinese, are you talking about being able to explain the model/corporate finance in Chinese or just being able to talk to the waitress in Chinese?

    Awesome user name, BTW. All Men are Brothers.

    There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.

  • WaterMargin's picture

    Haha thanks Kenny. Just watched the new version of it on youtube.

    Can someone also discuss the banks there? Seems to me that Citi, DB & HSBC HK is much more highly regarded than their counterparts in NY. Is GS still God's representative in HK or is it second tier? Things like that. Basically any difference between the perception of the banks in HK vs those in NY.

  • ZIRH's picture

    I think best bank in the HK-China space is CICC, and will probably be for a long time, given their connections to higher ups in the government. A fellow HK banker of mine put it this way: "Our MD makes a call to the admin assistant of a govt official hoping to get in touch with him; a local bank's MD will make a call to the govt official's private line because they are 1) related, 2) went to school together" Google articles on Macquarie relationship hires and CS hiring a close relative of Wen Jiabao, you'll get a better idea.

    In terms of international banks, Goldman and MS are still tops in the region. UBS had a really strong presence when I was interviewing for them, and they were one of the banks with a translation test (translate an English research report to Chinese). Most of them screen your Chinese ability on the phone, the typical one being "walk me through your resume in Mandarin (true of UBS and DB)"

  • Jay HK's picture

    Just moved to NYC from HK (am a headhunter, grew up in HK) so here are a few thoughts:

    Topics that will be helpful:
    1. Is compensation in PE really lower than that of IB in HK?
    - Big range, but as other people have said the most active aren't the megafunds. Asian shops are pretty active, but big PRC focus these days - so depends on your language skills. There's definitely a pretty significant China premium

    2. What about HF analyst compensation? How established are hedge funds in HK? Anything different about HFs in HK and those in NY?
    All over the place

    3. Hours are longer than NY. True or False?
    True. Most people have domestic helpers here (help is cheap) so there's less respect for your personal time.

    4. Housing stipend? Still exist or something in the past?
    It's still around in some cases, depends bank by bank but they are trying to phase them out with the increase in base salaries. Keep this in mind, I was just back there for a few weeks and prices are through the roof. Makes NY seem cheap in comparison. Given to you on a monthly basis, an average one bedroom in Mid levels will be anywhere from $18k - $25k.

    5. Year-end bonus - what's the usual range?

    6. People say HK is more fun than NY. Care to explain why? I was a SA in HK and didn't get to party much. Barely at all to be accurate.
    There's a LOT of partying, people just end up sleeping less. But that'll get old after 6 months or so. There's a lot to do - travel wise, you've got so much within a 3/4 hour flight. It's warm year around, some of the best accessible hiking for any major city; lots of people get together and rent boats for the day and head over to outlying islands etc.

    7. How are the girls there? Are there any hot white girls or mostly Asian? Do you converse with them in clubs/bars with English or Chinese?
    Most people speak English, although it never hurts to have some Cantonese in the back pocket. Mainly Asian.

    8. What is the recruiting process for PE and HF? Do headhunters reach out to IB analysts or is the process more unstructured? An overview would be great.
    Very unstructured, headhunters don't really deal with analysts that much - but you'll find the odd few as part of a team build. Very relationship driven.

    9. Also, for those of you who've been to Macau, how are the Macau girls that hang around the casinos and hotels? I heard they're excellent quality, but is sexual diseases common?
    Haven't heard of any issues, that's bad for business

    Can someone also discuss the banks there? Seems to me that Citi, DB & HSBC HK is much more highly regarded than their counterparts in NY. Is GS still God's representative in HK or is it second tier? Things like that. Basically any difference between the perception of the banks in HK vs those in NY.

    GS used to be god's own, but the big theme these days in Asia is on ground presence. GS has a pretty small footprint onshore throughout Asia, which is a bit of hassle. JPM, DB, Citi, MS are all v strong. BoA, CS after. HSBC is still a commerical bank, they've never been successful on the IB front after trying in fits and starts.

    Otherwise, you really should have business level mandarin (speaking is fine), and you can brush up on this when you're there. They do look for written often; to be able to understand docs etc, but they'll settle.

    Best of luck

  • ibhopeful532's picture

    lots more client exposure - e.g. (real cases):

    1. lead due-diligence with management team of a very large State-owned enterprise - 1st year analyst (with coaching before hand from VP's / assos)
    2. directly being asked to contribute during pitches / client meetings
    3. flying on a weekly basis throughout China/SE Asia
    4. building a very very large rolodex with working level juniors across a wide variety of state-owned and private enterprises (in 10 years time, many of whom will be management leve)

    downside:
    you build less models (if that's a downside).

  • ibhopeful532's picture

    lots more client exposure - e.g. (real cases):

    1. lead due-diligence with management team of a very large State-owned enterprise - 1st year analyst (with coaching before hand from VP's / assos)
    2. directly being asked to contribute during pitches / client meetings
    3. flying on a weekly basis throughout China/SE Asia
    4. building a very very large rolodex with working level juniors across a wide variety of state-owned and private enterprises (in 10 years time, many of whom will be management leve)

    downside:
    you build less models (if that's a downside).

  • bbjhva's picture

    Lot of useful stuff already captured on the work side, so my two cents on the social scene is the following:

    1) Yep, HK people definitely look down on Mainlanders. In fact, I'm Indian, and I too began noticing why. If you take a ride in the MTR (local subway/metro) you can spot who are the mainlanders and who are the HongKongers. Mainlanders are loud, very crude, and dressed shabbily. A HongKonger wouldn't be caught dead without the latest designer 'something' (often, everything) on. HK men will always be dressed sharp, and you can bet an HK girl will have a handbag worth her monthly salary. That's how the real HK people roll.

    2) Language is a funny issue. Honestly, never caused a problem for me in terms of the social scene - I have english speaking friends, and their friends can also speak english. No problem. What bugged me, however, was sometimes at work at the entry levels a lot of the conversation is in cantonese. In a global program that I was in this was quite surprising. Like what would happen is my fellow entry levels would be speaking in English, but some of the other office people would not. That kinda sucked for me at times. It's not a big deal, but...yes it irked.

    3) Girls - the best type I would say are the overseas-educated/returned Chinese girls, not the local Chinese girls. Nothing against the local HK girls, in fact they were probably the hotter ones, but their language is Cantonese through and through. The overseas educated ones are often very chilled, speak fluent English obviously (often in an American/Canadian accent) and let's be honest, are pretty open about hooking up and shit lol. Also, and this is important, these tend to be the smart ones too and so you can have a great conversation with them...again, unlike the local girls who don't have such good English.

    4) Overall, HK is awesome and I totally prefer it over NY...and this is despite any of the language barrier mentioned or the lack of too many hot girls barring that of Chinese ethnicity. I love the city and the people, and it is welcoming of you no matter who you are and where you're from. My dad said it used to be kinda racist in the 80s and 90s when he traveled, but def no such issue now.

    My advice - when choosing between HK and NY to work...always choose HK!

  • highhater's picture

    spoke to three MDs a few weeks ago (two at UBS, one at Citi) in HK. they all said mandarin skills are the number one skill they are looking for nowadays...being able to sit in on meetings in chinese and translating documents are crucial. also keep in mind that analyst classes are a lot smaller than in NY so numbers-wise it is difficult. although none of the banks in NY are hiring anyways.....

  • International Pymp's picture

    ^my understanding is that it depends on the group and bank in HK with mandarin skills... for example, when i was thinking of leaving my firm (re pe in china) a year or so ago to go to HK I couldn't get the time of day from certain banks because my reading and writing isn't that good and my speaking is below native fluency... other, particularly some smaller banks (think of an RC, Laz, Nomura, etc.) were very interested to have me... they had some native chinese guys with U.S. education but were lacking people with native written English that could also speak fluent chinese (or close) and read/write enough to get by (i.e. build models based on chinese materials etc.)... Also some groups are not 100% China focused, so those ones aren't as concerned about Mandarin.. but. nevertheless, pretty much everywhere requires a good level of proficiency and some places (I've heard UBS and CS... etc) are downright draconian and require native reading/writing and give tests etc.

  • highhater's picture

    interesting....did you go out there straight out of undergrad or did you start out in ny?

    am interested in starting out in china/HK (worked at a fundraising shop in shanghai this summer) but like i said it seems language skills are a priority and a lot of the jobs i see out there are only offering local chinese salaries 8-10k RMB/month.

  • bbjhva's picture

    Mandarin is definitely huge from a business point of view, but has little or no relevance from a social point of view in HK. Hope that clarifies.

  • In reply to bbjhva
    Garp's picture

    bbjhva wrote:
    Mandarin is definitely huge from a business point of view, but has little or no relevance from a social point of view in HK. Hope that clarifies.

    So is it possible to get in as an analyst with no Mandarin or Cantonese skills?

    Also, can anyone comment on whether Chinese/other language requirements are much of an issue in Singapore?

  • In reply to Garp
    Jay HK's picture

    Garp wrote:
    bbjhva wrote:
    Mandarin is definitely huge from a business point of view, but has little or no relevance from a social point of view in HK. Hope that clarifies.

    So is it possible to get in as an analyst with no Mandarin or Cantonese skills?

    Also, can anyone comment on whether Chinese/other language requirements are much of an issue in Singapore?

    Definitely possible in HK without language skills, but definitely more difficult.

    Language isn't much of an issue in Sing - but again depends on which area you're looking at (S&T/ IB Sectors etc). You'll be covering SEA as a whole and a lot of cross border deals in Thailand / Indo / Malaysia, so it can help but definitely not necessary. It's becoming the favored destination for a lot of banks (costs are much lower).

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