Anyone got any questions about IB or PE/VC in China? Happy to answer questions.

Anyone got any questions about IB or PE/VC in China?
Happy to answer questions.
I've been working out in China for 15 years.
I worked in IB then PE. All post-MBA.
We can discuss Hong Kong (China-lite as it's known) or China itself.

Comments (11)

Aug 16, 2018

Thanks for the topic.

Could you expand on which group you worked in? And how you ended up there?

What would you say are the main differences are between China and HK finance in terms of deals (a focus in an industry or type of deal), pay, language reqs, hours? Also how competitive is it to break in vs in the US?

Would you be able to easily switch into a Singapore office or would that be a completely different playing field?

Thanks!

At least conversationally fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Russian

Aug 16, 2018

I started my career in HK, rotating through IBD(ECM), equity research, real estate PE, PE, and equity sales.
i then left the bank to join a PE shop in China (big mistake).
I later returned to HK and was in cap intro in HK.
I didn't like it, so I went back to China and was in PE in China, and then back to HK for PE.

    • 2
Aug 16, 2018

Q: What would you say are the main differences are between China and HK finance in terms of deals (a focus in an industry or type of deal), pay, language reqs, hours? Also how competitive is it to break in vs in the US?
A: Depends if you're a Chinese returnee or not. If you're not Chinese, just forget about China. Too many Chinese went to USA, went to Ivy MBAs, and are back.
They are the best equipped to deal w/ their own ecosystem.
If you're not Chinese, no matter how good your Mandarin is, you'll never be as good as a local, and culturally you'll have a lot of trouble with the business culture.
Chinese business culture is some Game of Thrones type s**t I kid you not.
And if you're not local, you won't even understand the game, much less be set up to win.

Now, if you are Chinese, then it's a tougher decision.
China is the land of opportunity, where everything is possible, if you can win the Game of Thrones.
HK is a more comfortable place to live, with better weather, things work, good healthcare, lower taxes, more mobility across the banks/funds/firms.
But the action is all in China.
Chinese pay is much less, but cost of living is also less.
Those Chinese taxes are killer though.
Because I live cheap, for me it was a wash.
In HK I had 15% taxes, and while I spent more on housing and food, my take-home was still higher than in China with its 35+% taxes.

Q: Would you be able to easily switch into a Singapore office or would that be a completely different playing field?
A: Singapore is its own world, and the focus is on SE Asia. If you're in IBD or PE in Singapore your targets are in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. You'd better speak Bahasa, or Thai/Viet, or it will be hard to land a job.
Mind you, you may be able to work for a SWF or hedge fund in Singapore.
Singapore made a big push to capture HF business, and a lot of those funds are pan-regional and/or cover China from SG.

    • 3
Aug 16, 2018

Sounds pretty rough for foreigners, especially with the Ivy returnees and lang reqs. Thanks for the response.

Following up on your other response about offices being opened in the mainland, what are your thoughts on the 2047 HK-China integration? Would HK become another Shanghai?

At least conversationally fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Russian

Aug 16, 2018

I think Singapore is a pretty tough market.
It's SE Asia focused, and I speak Mandarin not Bahasa/SEAsian language.
Preference is also to give locals jobs, by law.
Lovely city though.
I miss living there!

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Aug 16, 2018

Are you based in Hong Kong or mainland China (BJ/SH/SZ/etc.) and do you feel that finance is shifting toward the mainland at all, or are most jobs sticking in HK?

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Aug 16, 2018

The jobs are definitely migrating slowly northward from HK to China.
HK is still the HQ and main hub, but almost all the work is in China.
So what you see is many bankers traveling M-F from HK to Beijing/Shanghai.
And the mainland offices of the big banks are quite big now - mostly centered around Beijing.
If you're in IBD, you're probably going to be based in HK, but there's a gradual expansion of the Beijing ofices.
Same for PWM.
My wife (who is mainland Chinese) interned at Goldman in PWM; they split the summer between HK and Beijing and the only FT openings they had were in Shanghai and Beijing.
For foreigners like myself there's fewer and fewer jobs at all - be it in HK or mainland China.
The banks would rather hire mainland Chinese.
So HK is still the mainstay of employment, but it's shrinking and moving north.
For PE, the vast majority of the firms / people are in China.
The only PE firms in HK are the pan-Asia funds.
Everyone else needs to be close to the deals, and that means being in China.
And VC is 100% in China, since HK has zero tech.
Hedge funds are still mostly in Hong Kong, since it's the big capital market, and has ties to the other global financial centers.

    • 3
Aug 16, 2018

I am based in HK, but previously worked and lived in Beijing and Shanghai.

Aug 16, 2018

Also something to keep in mind is that china is now in the midst of a real slowdown, thanks to a Trump-initiated trade war, and the government of China trying to slow the economy and soft-land it.

Aug 18, 2018
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