Non-native mandarin speaker in HK with no work experience. Am I screwed?

Title sums it up. More details about me:

I did my undergrad at a UK non-target (got perfect GPA and prizes for my performance there). Currently doing a 1-year Masters in Finance at a HK Target (CUHK/HKU/HKUST).

I have no real work experience and have been applying for internships/graduate programs and realised that a vast majority of the opportunities available in HK require native level Mandarin. Those that do not require Mandarin usually state that it is highly preferred. I mean, that was expected but it represents a larger percentage than I initially thought. My mother tongue is one of the major European languages (excluding English) but I can actually speak/write/read mandarin at an intermediate/advanced level (I guess you could call me an EBC European-born Chinese).

I am getting rejections or no replies at all from the companies I have applied for. Not sure if that's due to my lack of experience or language skills, probably both. I am now running out of places to apply for in HK and I'm not sure what I can do in my situation.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (6)

  • PM in HF - Other
Nov 10, 2021 - 1:26pm

In HK most clients are Mainland Chinese so you will not be able to find a job in HK unless you speak native Chinese, or have worked in top firms in the west. There is no way for you to work at a client-facing finance job in HK.

Try Dubai, it's pretty easy to break into IB in Dubai as a foreigner. Better lifestyle than Asia, good food, no taxes, and easy visa application process.

Nov 10, 2021 - 1:37pm
SushiLover, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.

I should have mentioned that my goal isn't (no longer) to find a FO role. I quickly realised that it would be pretty much impossible for someone like me to work in front-office in HK. I'm looking for F500, FP&A, strategy, etc. roles now.

But now that you mention Dubai I will have a look at it. Do you mind providing me with a little more guidance? 

  • PM in HF - Other
Nov 10, 2021 - 2:53pm

If you haven't graduated from the worst university in UK, there should be plenty of people working in Dubai from your Alumni, reach out to them.

Also China has really big investments in Dubai so your knowledge of Mandarin, and your MFin from a target university in Hong Kong is going to look good on your CV. In my opinion, it's more likely for you to find a better finance job in Dubai than any other country. You may even have a chance to start at a BB, if you have good ECs.

Forget about HK, and network for Dubai.

Good luck!

May 26, 2022 - 4:11am
alng, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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