Aiming for Investment Banking in Hong Kong/Singapore/Shanghai

rmb's picture
Rank: Monkey | 33

Hi all I just wanted to get some advice from people who work in IBD and in Asia in particular. (Sorry for the walls of text).

After a few months of browsing these forums, reading books and talking to people in finance I have decided to take the plunge into finance and aim for an IBD internship at a BB firm in Singapore/HK/Shanghai for the end of next year.

I am from Sydney, Australia and am a non-finance graduate. After I finished University I came to Beijing to study Chinese where I been for the past year. I feel I will be fluent in Chinese after one more year. Next year I will be studying a Masters of Commerce majoring in Finance and Accounting at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

My main reason for studying Chinese is the opportunity I see in Asia and more specifically China in the long term. However, I believe that salaries in finance in Shanghai/Beijing are still quite low on an international level so I am looking towards somewhere such as HK which has a strong relationship with mainland China.

So my questions:

  1. What will be my difficulties breaking into IB considering I am not an undergraduate and will be around 25 (and most likely with little to no finance experience) when I start applying for internships?
  2. I have extended family who have high-level contacts in finance in Asia. Will it be frowned upon if I ask my family to help me get my foot in the door in finance? I am not sure how this varies between East and West.
  3. Do they favour locals considerably more in cities such as Beijing/Shanghai/Hong Kong?
  4. How can I maximise my chances of securing an IBD internship? I am confident in being able to maintain a high GPA, have already planned which extra-curricular activities/university clubs to participate in, have a list of finance and non-finance books that I have started to read and planned which networking events to attend in Sydney etc. How can I most effectively allocate my time?
  5. "Informal" internships. In the industry I previously studied in internships were not very structured - it was a matter of cold calling a company. In finance there seems to be a very structured process with most internships held over the summer. What kind of shorter-term finance experience should I be aiming for before applying for an IBD internship?
  6. A bit of a broader question - how does working in IBD in Asia vary from IBD in the west?

Cheers!

Comments (70)

Nov 28, 2010

..

Nov 28, 2010

If you are not a Chinese descend. You have about 0% of chance of getting hire by any major IBD in China and HK. 10% chance of getting hire in SLC.

Nov 28, 2010
JuniorAssKisser:

If you are not a Chinese descend. You have about 0% of chance of getting hire by any major IBD in China and HK. 10% chance of getting hire in SLC.

For HK, from talking to the many CUHK/HKU kids who come to our school through our international program, the majority of HK hires are from US/London/(maybe Australia). Even then, only some of these are ABCs, and many are still foreign. Apparently the only HK kids these BBs are willing to recruit are those who study college abroad (and by study I mean earn their entire degree abroad). If you want to work in a China coverage team, it may be harder, but if you think you can actually achieve that level of fluency, then why not give it a shot.

On the other hand, I'd imagine for Beijing, it'd be much more focused on local talent.

Nov 28, 2010

Thanks for the feedback. "JuniorAssKisser" do you think you could expand more on what you said - I was a bit surprised to read "0% chance of hire" seeing as I know of caucasians and ABCs working in HK in finance.

As for China I have slowly realised it would be hard for me to compete against native Chinese who have studied abroad so that's why I am looking more towards HK because it has a much greater western influence.

Nov 29, 2010
rmb:

Thanks for the feedback. "JuniorAssKisser" do you think you could expand more on what you said - I was a bit surprised to read "0% chance of hire" seeing as I know of caucasians and ABCs working in HK in finance.

As for China I have slowly realised it would be hard for me to compete against native Chinese who have studied abroad so that's why I am looking more towards HK because it has a much greater western influence.

Race is not my point. I was comparing your Australian degree with other US/UK target school. You have pretty slim chance against these kids who studied in targets regardless of their race. HK is so much harder to get in comparing to China regardless of your nationality. BTW majority of HK deal are from China. Western influence? Hong Kong belongs to China! I work for a major IBD in Asia. So I can say from my experience, you have close to "zero" chance to get hire at this point of your career.

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Nov 28, 2010

In order of your questions:

1). If you're looking for bulge-bracket investment banking in HK/Singapore, your biggest hurdle is that you won't get an interview at all. BB's in Asia predominantly hire from US, and UK target schools (Ivy league, Oxford, Cambridge), to a greater extent than even US firms.

2). Following up on (1), having relationships is the easiest way to get a job in finance period. No it's not frowned upon - it happens everywhere.

3). Most bulge-bracket banks that do have significant front-office operations (i.e. Goldman, UBS, Morgan Stanley) are in Beijing, not Shanghai. In BJ/SH, virtually all native-Chinese - about half or more are US/UK Ivy/Oxbridge educated, and the other half are from Tsinghua, Beijing U. or Fudan. In Hong Kong, 90% are US/UK educated.

4). Getting an IBD job has virtually nothing to do with knowledge of finance. It's about accumulating an impressive resume (i.e. Brand name), having the right skill-set (i.e. language), and most importantly, knowing the right people (i.e. network). So stop wasting time reading finance books - go out there and network.

5). You're already 25 - I'm not sure you should be wasting anytime doing informal internships. I think your best bet is to do your masters and then apply from campus.

6). Has been covered extensively, do a search. In a few words

advantages: faster exposure to the client side of business, more entrepreneurial experience, faster promotions, your Chinese will improve (prolly biggest advantage IMO), international experience attractive for US B-schools, higher pay in than in New york

disadvantages: arguably less buy-side exit opportunities (although i'm not sure this is exactly true, and the upside to staying in sell-side in Asia is arguably greater than entering buy-side), less technical experience (there won't be $20 billion M&A deals like there are in the US)

Nov 29, 2010

Ok then - I didn't realise it was so important to go to a target school from the US/UK. The school i will be going to in australia would be considered "target" as in the BB firms recruit from there. Where in Asia are you actually based?

When I say HK has a strong western influence I am referring to the country being occupied by the UK until 1997. HK "belonging" to China is a bit more of technicality.I think most people would agree that places like Singapore/HK have a much greater western influence than other asian countries.

In regards to the HK deals with China - what is the language used in documents?

Nov 30, 2010
rmb:

Ok then - I didn't realise it was so important to go to a target school from the US/UK. The school i will be going to in australia would be considered "target" as in the BB firms recruit from there. Where in Asia are you actually based?

When I say HK has a strong western influence I am referring to the country being occupied by the UK until 1997. HK "belonging" to China is a bit more of technicality.I think most people would agree that places like Singapore/HK have a much greater western influence than other asian countries.

In regards to the HK deals with China - what is the language used in documents?

If your school is target in Aus, why dont you stay there? What do you think an employer will think when they see a 25 yr old expat w/o any finance experiences come to beg for job in a third world country VS a H/W/S educated 22 yr old recent grad w/ IBD summer analyst sting under his belt.

And you actually think that "Western influence" will get your job in HK?

Nov 30, 2010
JuniorAssKisser:

If your school is target in Aus, why dont you stay there? What do you think an employer will think when they see a 25 yr old expat w/o any finance experiences come to beg for job in a third world country VS a H/W/S educated 22 yr old recent grad w/ IBD summer analyst sting under his belt.

And you actually think that "Western influence" will get your job in HK?

Relax buddy!

I don't know why you are so riled up. By the way, I can understand the chinese you wrote. I can read a Chinese newspaper / watch a Chinese movie but I wouldn't be confident in having a high-level discussion with a local Chinese. Also don't make assumptions about my background - my family is from Fujian province (wait?? isn't that in China??) and I also have family in Qingdao.

Why don't I stay in Australia? I have been living in Beijing recently, have lived and worked in Singapore and I like Asia. That is why I want to work here - I think it would be a great experience.

I didn't come to this forum saying I am a foreigner so it must be easy for me to get a job in Hong Kong. I think most people would agree that there has been/is a great western influence in Singapore and Hong Kong. I never said that would mean I could get a job easily!

I mistakenly thought that because IBs have a strong presence in Australia that it wouldn't be such a big leap for someone from Australia wanting to work in Asia. Now I do realise it is not as simple as that. If I knew everything I wouldn't have asked for advice in the first place.

Nov 29, 2010

^

Usually english for anything substantial you'll have to draft (equity committee memos, due-diligence, prospectuses) etc. usually are all in English. You have a translation team that will do the translation - the thing is though, your chinese has to be at a level where you can read the documents to proofread (for example, if someone gave you an english pitchbook, you have to be aware if there's awkward language / mispellings)

Nov 29, 2010

sorry but australian schools are generally all unimpressive, especially compared to US/UK schools. I mean don't get me wrong, in Australia it may be regarded are very prestigious (just like how Tokyo U maybe considered prestigious in Japan, SNU to Korea) but if your talking about metropolitan cities like HK and Singapore, those schools are no match compared to even average schools in the US (ex. UCLA, USC).

Drop the finance books, and start networking. You have family connections in finance? USE IT. That's probably the most valuable aspect you have over other candidates, and those connections itself will put you ahead of 90% of all candidates in the game, not your MSc from University of South Whales or whatever u call that place.

Nov 29, 2010

I think ibhopeful did a great job answering all ur quesitons.

Use ur family connections NOW!!!

Forget about beijing or shanghai. If your mandarin is not as fluent as natives, your chances are close to zero. You are right about HK and Singapore. Both places were colonies of UK, so English is widely spoken there. But knowing mandarin is no doubt a plus. So focus your research on these two places.

Alternatively, try get a job in IBD in Australia first and then work on a transfer offer to HK or Singapore.

Nov 29, 2010

There are some very good ideas on this topic. I am in a similiar situation, and I have some recruiting ideas, maybe others can comment on them, and that could also be helpful for the OP. Thanks OP for starting this conversation; the Greater China region is indeed full of opportunities.

Unlike the OP
- I do speak / read / write Chinese at fluent level (read WSJ-Chinese)
- I did graduate from a top 10 US News-ranked university (HOWEVER, it's non-Ivy, and I exhausted all IB networking opps by now).

Like the OP
- I have no IB experience (only can show passing CFA level 1)
- Also a bit old, 25 y.o. I know that I have no chance at BB in Asia, but I am also too inexperienced for elite B-school, so boutique IB is my only option, if I want better offers post-MBA.

I do have some recruiting ideas
- Cold call boutiques at HK, BJ, SH, Singapore, offer to work for free at first.
- Studying financial modeling on my own, show that I can hit the ground running
- Attend IB conferences (e.g. Assoc for Corporate Growth), and just cold-approach bankers there.

Any thoughts fellow Monkeys? Many thanks.

Nov 29, 2010

^

Elttaes, put down the financial modeling book. All you need to know is what an investment banker does, and that's sufficient. The amount of time you spend working on a model is very, very low if at all.

The key in Asia is to network. If you meet someone who can vouch for you / pass your resume on, you will get a job. NETWORK

Jun 30, 2011
ibhopeful532:

^

Elttaes, put down the financial modeling book. All you need to know is what an investment banker does, and that's sufficient. The amount of time you spend working on a model is very, very low if at all.

The key in Asia is to network. If you meet someone who can vouch for you / pass your resume on, you will get a job. NETWORK

I disagree, if you're looking to break into a boutique, you better have some sort of basic understanding of modeling. Most MM and boutiques don't have training programs, so they expect you to know your stuff to a certain degree

Nov 29, 2010

thanks ibhopeful532. I appreciate the candid advice, and I am sure the OP does as well.

Regarding networking, forgive my inexperience, but can you please comment on my approach. I've searched the WSO forums and my own contacts, and this what I have came up with:

1) mass cold emailing / calling all HK / Singapore / Beijing IB boutiques.
2) offer to work for free.
3) buy one-way ticket and attend relevant conferences / events there.

That's really it right? I have already exhausted all of my family / alumni connections. Now I just push through and pound the pavement? I think my brand (school name) and skills (mandarin) are already there, just need someone to see it. Please point out if I am missing something obvious here.

As always, thanks for the input and for the OP's creation of this thread.

Nov 29, 2010
Nov 29, 2010

you'll have a better chance in HK / singapore... basically no chance in Beijing and Shanghai without relying heavily on connections.... you MAY be able to secure an internship at a small shop (they sometimes need people who can help write docs in english), but you'll get paid close to nothing

I work in PE on the mainland and I'm the only white guy under 30 I know that works in this business here and gets global pay, etc. (I got very lucky and had a lot of connections, and was an ivy league grad and all the rest)

I do know one guy in venture capital, who got a job through simply applying, but he had a 3.9 GPA from Princeton and was previously a SA at GS/MS and SA at a good VC firm in the US... not sure if you can take that as much of a ray of light in your position

Nov 30, 2010

A lot of realistic advice here. Bottom line is you should network your tail off.

That being said, there definitely are some small shops that could use translation or English document writing help, but finding them will be an issue. Plus as pointed out above, the pay will probably be close to zero.

As a side note, CDH has at least one junior white guy, although not sure if he gets "global" pay.

Nov 30, 2010

Some useful information here thanks guys. I am definitely going to go down the family connections route in Singapore then. Apart from being a SA is it common to do "informal" internships at BB firms? ie a short stint at a firm without going through the formal process of testing and interviews etc

I still have a good 7 months before I need to apply for SA positions which will be late next year so I am looking at getting as exposed to finance as possible.

Also, how would you typically approach family and ask for help with contacts? Is it best to be straightforward and ask for help saying i'm trying to get experience in a certain area or try to be a bit more subtle?

Nov 30, 2010

Sent you a pm International Pymp

Nov 30, 2010

rmb - unless you are a relationship hire, 0 chance a bulge-bracket bank will hire you to work for them for free. money is not an object for these banks. neither is attracting people that want to work for them

Nov 30, 2010

actually SKA is right... I forgot about the CDH guy!

Nov 30, 2010

@ ibhopeful when you say BB are you referring to the IBD of a BB or the whole BB firm? At the moment I am just looking at finance roles in a BB not specifically IBD. I also confident I have family contacts that can at the very least introduce me to some senior people within BB firms in Singapore.

Jun 30, 2011

Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance launches eight scholarships for international students and students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

http://www.businessbecause.com/business-school-new...

Nov 1, 2013

Bump for personal relevance.

I am going to be joining a BB IBD in Hong Kong (2014 intake). I will be joining as an associate. My chinese skills are adequate at best. I can easily converse and get around/live using chinese (mandarin), but cannot read nor write. also, i am unfamiliar with chinese business/finance terms. i most definitely cannot read the WSJ in chinese.

all of this was revealed during my interviews, i didn't lie about my capabilities at all. however, the interviewers all responded positively and felt that either i had the potential to learn chinese (quickly) or that i could still do well as a transactional specialist. however, even if i was to improve my chinese significantly, i doubt that i would be able to read chinese 10Ks.

in either case, everybody always says how important chinese is to succeeding in hong kong. however, then i think about the number of ex pats who don't speak a word of chinese who are still doing well. obviously, deals are becoming more and more china-focused, but there should still be enough deal flow from other regions to support IBD shops.

anyways, just thought this was relevant and i'm constantly monitoring this board to learn more about how i can improve my chances to succeed.

    • 1
Feb 16, 2014

what about malaysian chinese studying in US target?

Mar 25, 2014

Curious about how all this ended for you rmb. Next month I will be moving to Hong Kong on exchange, and hopefully will do some networking.

Mar 25, 2014

Just curious, why are all the BB in China based out of Beijing versus Shanghai? Isn't Shanghai the financial capital whilst Beijing is the political capital in the Mainland?

Oct 20, 2014

bump

Oct 20, 2014
Oct 20, 2014

Actually scrap this question. I'll try and do some more reading on my own before I turn to you guys to bail me out.

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

Oct 20, 2014

No Mandarin = no job. (china/singapore) India and Malysia might be easier
Unless your parents can pull some serious strings.

Oct 20, 2014

Well network wouldn't really be a problem in the country that I am picking because all of my extended family is there and I'm sure they'd be willing to bat for me and do their best to set me up. The main problem I was trying to figure out is what the best way to pursue a career in Asia is given that some of the companies don't necessarily like pre-MBA students as hires. For example, and this could be wrong, but I've heard that a lot of BB I-banks take very few pre-MBA students right out of undergrad in Asia, but in the US, that's obviously different. Therefore, if one's long term goal is to work in such a company, what's the best way to do it if they want to work in that region right away and that company doesn't hire pre-MBAs?

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

Oct 20, 2014

You do not need to speak Mandarin to work in HK. That's what country coverage is for...

Obviously, ability to speak any Asian language (Korean, Thai, Malay) would be looked upon favorably.

Oct 20, 2014

english is the first language in singapore, although everyone can also speak mandarin as well.

Oct 20, 2014

Language aside, what are the steps that need to be taken to launch a career in these places?

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

Oct 20, 2014

the recruitment over here is exactly the same as it is in US. Students first fight for summer internship in penultimate year and then top performers will be offered FT position.

MBAs are not competing with undergraduates, MBA->associate and undergraduate->analyst.
Banks prefer top undergraduates over MBAs, as they only care how smart you are rather that how much you know. over half of new recruits are undergraduates majored in math/engineering/science with Full marks (not just a 4.0) academic track record and shining activities.

Each office has its own list of target schools. NUS/NTU/SMU for singapore office, IIT for india office, Tsinghua/Peking for Hong Kong office.

And of course they do hire US students, and they criteria is exactly the same as that in US, i.e first class, impressive internships.

It's OK if you don't speak mandarin but be prepared to be f*cked.

Oct 20, 2014
realzol:

It's OK if you don't speak mandarin but be prepared to be f*cked.

what exactly does this mean? lol

Oct 20, 2014

Are you talking about China/a specific Asian country, because I've heard things are quite different in India for example

realzol:

the recruitment over here is exactly the same as it is in US. Students first fight for summer internship in penultimate year and then top performers will be offered FT position.

MBAs are not competing with undergraduates, MBA->associate and undergraduate->analyst.
Banks prefer top undergraduates over MBAs, as they only care how smart you are rather that how much you know. over half of new recruits are undergraduates majored in math/engineering/science with Full marks (not just a 4.0) academic track record and shining activities.

Each office has its own list of target schools. NUS/NTU/SMU for singapore office, IIT for india office, Tsinghua/Peking for Hong Kong office.

And of course they do hire US students, and they criteria is exactly the same as that in US, i.e first class, impressive internships.

It's OK if you don't speak mandarin but be prepared to be f*cked.

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

Oct 20, 2014

i'm interested in this

Oct 20, 2014

same

Oct 20, 2014

I'm also from Canada and was looking at this possibility after an exchange I did there. As it ended up I will be working in Canada.

If you are a Singaporean citizen it will be much easier for you (I am not). I inquired with some Scandinavian banks that are active the shipping sector in Singapore and they told me that since I'm not a citizen, they would have to sponsor an employment pass for me. Apparently the big banks (BBs) have much easier access to employment passes than boutique operations or so I was told. They also said that the Government doesn't like granting employment passes to younger, less experienced expatriates (they like entry level jobs to go to their own students).

Oct 20, 2014
GoingGlobal1:

I'm also from Canada and was looking at this possibility after an exchange I did there. As it ended up I will be working in Canada.

If you are a Singaporean citizen it will be much easier for you (I am not). I inquired with some Scandinavian banks that are active the shipping sector in Singapore and they told me that since I'm not a citizen, they would have to sponsor an employment pass for me. Apparently the big banks (BBs) have much easier access to employment passes than boutique operations or so I was told. They also said that the Government doesn't like granting employment passes to younger, less experienced expatriates (they like entry level jobs to go to their own students).

am thinking of exchanging there. which school did you attend? what was it like?

which scandinavian banks were you thinking of? didn't think they offered internships

Oct 20, 2014

bumpy

    • 1
Oct 20, 2014

The CapIQ threads should have lists of firms in Singapore, I know TD has something (might not be banking though) out there if you can communicate with them from Canada.

Can you swing a Work Holiday Pass? 6 months could give you a better chance getting your foot in the door before they have to get you a real visa.

http://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/passes-visa...
They don't list Canada but I can't believe they would let in the rest of the Commonwealth but not you guys. Then again, it is Singapore...

Oct 20, 2014

A couple of years ago (pre-crisis), I recall a travel guide was telling us that Singapore was making a huge push to bring in international talent from 6-8 very specific countries, and Canada was one of them. But post-crisis, they reverted to the focus on hiring locals - after all, Singapore isn't very large.

Just based on my experience talking to firms while having a 12h time difference, it is much much easier to try and find something when you're in the country. Because it's very easy for them to dismiss a phone interview, but if you're already there, it's not too tough to make time to meet you in person.

Unlike in HK - where Mandarin is mandatory in 95% of the roles - there's still some opps where other languages are just a plus. At least, that's what I've heard from colleagues and alumni. Good luck

Oct 20, 2014

I am working in one of singaporean PE right now. Dream comes true! shoot me a message if u guys need an advice. more than willing to help.

Oct 20, 2014

Northstar - a PE firm. Google it. Big in Indonesia and SE Asia. Based out of Sing

Oct 20, 2014
Iplaygoodguitar:

Northstar - a PE firm. Google it. Big in Indonesia and SE Asia. Based out of Sing

Yea i know Northstar. The MD is ex GS dude. Are you in PE as well?

Oct 20, 2014

its part of TPG FYI

Oct 20, 2014

And I worked in Singapore for years so, I do know these guys are active in the market and have been associated with some large names, including Adaro.

Oct 20, 2014

What's the pe landscape like in sea right now? are the big players mostly foreign firms?

Oct 20, 2014

How much do you make (ballpark for base + bonus)? Are you pre or post MBA?

Oct 20, 2014
dudguy:

How much do you make (ballpark for base + bonus)? Are you pre or post MBA?

PRE MBA. and enough to put food on the table.

Oct 20, 2014

Hi I am looking for a intern/full time position in Singapore. But I do have any finance experience as I am currently studying in an unrelated course. Is there any advice you guys can give me to improve my chance of entering this industry?

Oct 20, 2014

Any other boutiques?

Oct 20, 2014

Sorry for bumping an old thread. But what's the update on finding opps in singapore/indonesia?

Oct 11, 2017

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Best Response
Oct 20, 2014
stackerquad:

From reading various threads, it seems that a job in Investment Banking in Hong Kong requires fluent (preferably native) Mandarin. This may be slightly relaxed if you are not in country coverage, but less-than-fluent means you get to work on no China-related deals, which makes up most of what BBs in HK do.

What are the language requirements in Singapore, however? If you're in industry coverage or a product team, is English the only requirement? How about if you are in country coverage - is knowledge of the relevant SE Asian (e.g. Thai, either Bahasa) language necessary, or just an advantage (i.e. not knowing the language does not equal an auto-ding)?

Also, how hard is it to get work permits for Singapore (e.g. here in the US as an international student most smaller companies wouldn't be willing/able to sponsor me, but BBs can)? Do you need work permits just to intern in SG (if you're not a resident/student in SG, that is)?

This is for an analyst straight out of college, if that makes a difference. Thanks.

I've had experience working in both HK and Singapore (mind you, that was about 13-15 years ago). But I've since worked with a lot of banker clients working in these countries.

Hong Kong: when I was there around the '97 handover, most of the Asian-American bankers spoke little to no Mandarin (typical "bananas" haha) and it was fine. But even then, China-related deals required spoken Mandarin at a minimum. Back then though, China didn't dominate deal flow and attention like it does now. Right now, Mandarin is basically a must - especially if you're of Chinese descent (there's a double standard). Depending on the deal or situation, written correspondence (pitch books, presentations, emails, other transaction docs, due diligence materials, etc.) will be in a mix of Chinese and English. Taiwanese deal flow historically tended to be more English centric, but that is also changing as more and more bankers now can speak and write Chinese. So think of it as an effective prerequisite, especially if you're of Chinese descent (and if you're Korean, naturally they'll try and place you in Korean coverage). In short, you really should be fluent in Mandarin, Korean or Japanese if you want a longer-term career in the northern part of Asia (China, HK, Taiwan, Korea, Japan).

Note though that the language requirement pertains to client correspondence and communication. In the office (amongst bankers), English is typically the default spoken language, although the secretaries will speak Cantonese amongst themselves, and mainland Chinese or Taiwanese colleagues may speak Mandarin amongst themselves.

If you are not Asian, they will cut you a bit of slack (and you may still get staffed on China deals), but your career options are more limited longer-term. If you are of east Asian descent, folks will give you a harder time both informally and in terms of opportunities if you don't speak your ancestral language well. Especially when there are plenty of local Koreans, Chinese, etc. who went to US schools and returned to Asia to start their careers. Japan is its own bubble: you really can't function without Japanese there.

Singapore is a bit different. English is spoken more widely even informally (amongst friends - or it's often a hybrid of English with a mix of Mandarin, Cantonese, Teochew, Hokkien and Malay words - otherwise known as "Singlish" and it's something that only Singaporeans understand when it's thick). In the office, it's English.

As for deals in SE Asia (most of which are staffed out of Singapore), just about everything is still done in English as far as I know. Knowing Bahasa, Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese, etc. is helpful to shoot the breeze with clients informally, but everything is still typically conducted in English - and that unlikely will change in the future. Part of it is that business in SE Asia is dominated by the ethnic Chinese minority who grew up there (although that will likely to change... maybe?), and they do invest a lot in China (so again, if you're working with clients like that, knowing Mandarin is a big asset).

Don't know what the Visa requirements are like now in Singapore, but when I was there, it seemed pretty easy (mind you, I have heard off-the-record from folks there that being ethnic Chinese helps a LOT in getting visas).

    • 2
Oct 20, 2014

Remember to carry cash: http://gselevator.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/the-mini-bar-3/

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