I Need You, WSO + Its Time To Move - Asia Job Search

AsiaHunter's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 35

Long post ahead (will not apologise).

Afternoon Monkeys,

Long time lurker, first time poster. It seems the flow of threads has decreased these months, but hopefully many of you will read this / comment (even if just to complain about the length of it). First of, a bit of background.

I have for the last months started to burn out given the combination of (i) industry-standard long hours, and (ii) the repetitive nature of the job. Ironically, it has been particularly during days that workload was light that I have complained the most (interestingly, discussing this with colleagues has concluded that long hours consume all your brain power and thus leaves no room for self pitty / awareness - would be interesting to see your views below on this).

I digress. Coming to the main point, I have come to a rather low point where I have realised that, despite the high salary and the "prestige" inherent to high finance jobs, I am not happy with my job. The thought that of course I am not happy because I am still an Analyst (meaning I should just be grateful and shut up) then leads to me realising that when I look at Associates/VPs and above, I also don't want to be like them (having someone to look up to is KEY). This realisation has lead to a more deep introspection that can be summarised in: "what makes people happy?". What can I say, I'm a basic B*tch.

I digress, again. Asia, the land of the dreams (or so they say). For those who have read Straight to Hell, Asia occupies a special place in their hearts. A few days ago, I learned of a girl in Singapore (grass is always greener kinda' crap...I know) earning decent money (normalised for cost of living, that is), in a job that does not involve 12+ hours per day and weekends. Then I heard about another HK expat. Then of another one, and another one. Point being, Asia opens the door to some high-payed jobs without the usually-embedded long-hours (happy to be proven that these also exist in London/NYC). As a rationale being that I am, I wrote down some thoughts:

- More money (per hour), aprox. same as main financial hubs in nominal amount (+ lower taxes)
- Ability to pursue interests/relationships/whatever the hell you want
- Nice nearby travel destinations (Japan, China, Vietnam, etc.)
- Overall happier life (hopefully?)

- Not the usual career path (and for us monkeys that have followed the book by the letter in order to achieve the saught-after finance dream, this scares the sh*t out of us)
- Not easy at first sight to get a job on the other side of the globe
- Different career potential (no clear pathway to fund/PE/senior roles that many seek)
- Incoming financial crisis
- Internal debate about grass always being greener on the other side is not always true (i.e. future regrets / if its so clear everybody wouldve done it...right?)
- Still an Analyst so perhaps too early to move

Given all of the above, I come to you. To avoid confusion, I would need help regarding:
- Best recruiters for finance jobs in Asia (think HK/Beijing/Shanghai/Singapore/Other)
- Confirmation of my above thesis - still uncertain of me needing someone to tell me that I am right or slapping me in the face whilst shouting to my face "work is work, grow the f*ck up"
- Success/regret stories of expats in Asia seeking the above
- Any other related answer

Thank you in advance for your two cents. For those who will hopefully take the time to write long/thoughtfull answers, know I will forever appreciate (and happy to have coffee if in London area).

Your-perhaps-too-introspective Analyst

Comments (17)

Feb 2, 2019

Also VERY interested in the above. Bump.

Feb 2, 2019

Interested. bump

Feb 2, 2019


Feb 2, 2019

Read this. Signed up. Banana-ed. Am in same situation...

Most Helpful
Feb 4, 2019

Can't offer too much but I can say the expats I met in Singapore did seem genuinely happy with their choice, although maybe those who don't just move back home. I'm also interested in making a move across so would be quite interested in learning more.

I think you partially answered your own question as to if it's so good, why doesn't everyone do it, below:


- Not the usual career path (and for us monkeys that have followed the book by the letter in order to achieve the saught-after finance dream, this scares the sh*t out of us)

Other reasons could be family commitments, taking care of someone, wanting to be close to home/friends, already happy where they are, not interested in trying a life in Asia, etc.

I'd say it's a chance worth taking, you may regret it forever otherwise - "What if I went to Asia.."

    • 4
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Feb 4, 2019


Feb 5, 2019

Asia opens the door to some high-payed jobs without the usually-embedded long-hours

The people you've heard of are not a representative sample. People in Asia generally work the longest hours of anyone on the planet. This doesn't change for investment banking. Every one of my friends in HK and Tokyo works much longer hours than I do. Even more so if you work for an Asian bank. Asian culture of conformity and deference to those older/more senior than you make it even tougher.


- More money (per hour), aprox. same as main financial hubs in nominal amount (+ lower taxes)

No idea where you got this. My impression has always been that jobs in Asia pay less than their equivalents in NYC and London. Yes you will pay less in taxes. But consider that most of the bank offices in Asia are satellite/branch offices, not headquarters. This generally means it's harder to get promoted, harder to hire people, harder to get paid, easier to be bossed around by NY/London and generally a pain.

    • 2
Feb 7, 2019

Ditto this. Speaking from experience having worked in banking both in NYC and Aisa, hours in Asia are equal, if not worse than in NYC. Comp is slightly less but factoring in lower tax rate, net pay is equal or a bit more depending on bonus


Feb 6, 2019

Massive bump.

Feb 6, 2019

Can't help for Asia per-say but can help for the middle east - Dubai and the likes.

Feb 6, 2019

Believe many of us would also be interested in this. Could you please talk about your experience there?

Feb 6, 2019

I'd very long and I'd be going all over the place. I'd rather answer questions than detail my experience there also for identity purposes as the market is quite small there.

Feb 6, 2019

Could you confirm the thesis above? I.e. Asia (in your case Dubai specifically) is all rainbows? Other details of interest for me would be:
- Pay
- Career progression
- Work/life balance
- Opinion on living in Dubai
- etc.

Thanks in advance!

Feb 6, 2019
  • Pay: overall same as in the US - however this depends on the firm hiring you. Say a german firm will generally pay less than US firms. Not that the effective tax rate is in between 0 and 1% - so you stack the cash whilst being there. Just don't get crazy and burn your money by showing as many expats do.
  • Career progression is usually boosted as these are emerging markets, you can usually be promoted faster - this might not be applicable in IB/PE where the lower levels are quite rigid. Going there is usually a stepping stone to go back to where you were but with at least a double promotion from where you stood before as you have shown some flexibility, adaptability and often faced good challenges.
  • Work life balance will depend on your employer - locals work you hard but pay well if doing well. Its pretty much a balance between good pay bad w/l or lower pay and good w/l.
  • Living in Dubai is great for 5 years maximum. It's a big city with a lot of different cultures, however living in the desert can get tiring at times. Most EU firms somewhat shut down during summer as expatriates are going back tot heir home countries to avoid the heat but local/some US firms barely do that which can get very tiring to work in a country with 110+ degrees on a daily basis for 3 months.

Happy to follow up on this one.

Feb 6, 2019

Would be interested in opportunities in Asia and Dubai.


Feb 2, 2019


Feb 21, 2019