S&T in Hong Kong (aussie) - Directly hired into HK

I am an Australian citizen who wants to start (and keep) his trading career in HK. How do I achieve this?

How hard is it to get directly hired into HK?
Is doing a year in Sydney then pushing for an internal transfer a realistic strategy? If so, is it really nessary to do a year? Can I start pushing after 3 or 6 months? On the flipside, will it take years for me to become valuable enough to get myself a transfer?
What banks have a large HK-presence? (e.g. Barclays in HK is small)
Any particularly noted bank desks, markets or products that are considered strong/weak in HK? (its my understanding that Asian financial markets are still underdeveloped)

I don't want to say that I think NYC or London are a bit past their peaks, but to me, it seems like it's Asia's turn to grow, and HK is the perfect place to be for an ambitious young man. Am I wrong?

Is there anything I should know about trading in HK, or being a expatriate in general?

Comments (13)

Mar 12, 2010 - 12:02am
tbcthk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you speak Chinese?

May 8, 2013 - 12:43am
earthwalker7, what's your opinion? Comment below:
LLcoolJ:

No. As far as I know, for a trader English is the only required language.

Technically English is the only REQUIRED language, but Mandarin is unofficially required. Or, to put it another way, if you're not already coming in with a massive book of business, you need to compete with a lot of people who DO speak local languages. So... what's the rationale for hiring you?

As someone who was working for bulge bracket in HK for many years, often I heard my boss (who spoke no Asian languages but came with 20 years US experience in banking) speak of other candidates who did not have local languages somewhat derisively, and labeled them as uncompetitive relative to others.

Mar 12, 2010 - 1:27am
chunkymunky, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm actually interested in this topic myself. Can someone in S&T in HK (or who has worked in HK) confirm that English is the only language required?

Mar 12, 2010 - 1:56am
LLcoolJ, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would say if you were working in Sales, then you would be required to speak Chinese. But traders aren't 'client-facing' and as far as I know, the actual trading floors in HK are English.

May 7, 2016 - 6:02am
LLcoolJ, what's your opinion? Comment below:

S&T in Hong Kong (aussie) - Anything about being an expatriate (Originally Posted: 03/12/2010)

I am an Australian citizen who wants to start (and keep) his trading career in HK. How do I achieve this?

How hard is it to get directly hired into HK? Is doing a year in Sydney then pushing for an internal transfer a realistic strategy? If so, is it really nessary to do a year? Can I start pushing after 3 or 6 months? On the flipside, will it take years for me to become valuable enough to get myself a transfer? What banks have a large HK-presence? (e.g. Barclays in HK is small) Any particularly noted bank desks, markets or products that are considered strong/weak in HK? (its my understanding that Asian financial markets are still underdeveloped)

I don't want to say that I think NYC or London are a bit past their peaks, but to me, it seems like it's Asia's turn to grow, and HK is the perfect place to be for an ambitious young man. Am I wrong?

Is there anything I should know about trading in HK, or being a expatriate in general?

May 7, 2016 - 6:03am
TheHivMonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

for expat matters in general in HK check geoexpat.com

I am not familiar with trading in HK but I understand UBS & MS are doing the best there in IBD.

May 7, 2016 - 6:04am
BigFatPanda, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah, I've got a friend that trades Equities for MS HK, and another who's a distressed asset trader for Goldman-- I'd go work for either at the drop of a hat. I think MS is the most highly regarded for most things finance in Hong Kong. For 2nd place, I can't say which is better between Goldman and UBS.

I recommend searching HK, Hong Kong, Asia, etc on here. Check out the HK BB Rankings thread. Personally, I like the asianinvestor.net jobs board.

There are A LOT of your fellow countrymen working in HK, so I wouldn't think it would be too hard to transfer there internally. Singapore too.

Mar 12, 2010 - 8:33am
BigFatPanda, what's your opinion? Comment below:

English IS the only language required in HK (I studied abroad there last year and built a decent network while I was there). You have to remember that HK was controlled by the UK forever, so everything in HK is bilingual. Besides, Cantonese is really tough to learn.

Any bank you call will answer the phone in English.

May 8, 2013 - 2:40am
LCYM, what's your opinion? Comment below:

HK is a big equity town so it helps if you're trading cash equities. If not, Singapore would be more realistic for you. Big banks tend to internally move experienced traders "to" HK sometimes. Lateral is more common in HK. Some BBs run their FX books in Singapore or Tokyo during Asian session, so you also need to find out what products you're interested in. For rates and commodities it is a similar situation. My buddy flew in to interview with three of the biggest BBs last month with a good track record (years of $10-15mm revenues p.a. prop + flow) running two NDF books himself, VP to D level, a native Chinese speaker with years of overseas experience and an MBA from the US, and still didn't get the job. It's not easy to find a peer candidate with better profile, but it is very easy to find a "cheaper" candidate with similar profile. (Cheaper meaning all-in costs) Get an idea.

And no, HK is a very established money center. Don't confuse HK with Shanghai. Make sure you don't say similar stuff (like the OP) to the interviewer if you get an interview. Find out how advanced HKMA and SFC are in terms of regulation etc before you attempt to look for a job in HK. You will need to convince them why they should hire you, apply a working visa for you, and hopefully give you housing (housing is non-existent nowadays for noobs) while they can just hire a random local guy easily. From a cost perspective, this neither makes sense to the banks nor to you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to talk you out of it. I'm just telling you the facts.

If you want to "start" trading, try to make that happen in your hometown first. The successful Aussie traders I personally know, actually quite a few, all traded their way up from Sydney to Singapore then/or to HK. Your problem is not language and it will never be. You need to start trading and have a track record and increase your exposure to different Asian markets, learn the differences and dynamics, find your strength, and then think about where to go.

Good luck.

Invest first, investigate later.
  • 2
Best Response
May 7, 2016 - 3:45am
Smiro688, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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