The future of Hong Kong high finance

Prospect in IB - Gen

I'm an international student who moved to Hong Kong to pursue my undergrad and high finance in Asia three years back. But over time, its pretty clear that Hong Kong is no longer the Asian Financial hub we knew it to be. But I still feel like it does have a lot of opportunities. I will graduate next year and am considering if I should look for opportunities in other places.

What do you guys think? Is HK still relevant in terms of high finance or will it follow a declining trend?

I would really appreciate your insights as a senior about to graduate in Hong Kong next year. Do you think it still would have the jobs and expat lifestyle it was known for?

Comments (136)

Jul 3, 2020

go to Singapore

    • 2
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 4, 2020

Isn't it harder to get a job in Singapore than in HK?

Jul 5, 2020

if you're a foreigner it's actually easier due to language requirements

Controversial
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 3, 2020

No way Singapore is surpassing HK. HKEX is 4 times SGEX in terms of total mkt cap. Not to mention the underlying markets they are serving.

    • 10
    • 5
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 4, 2020

I do agree on that but the new law brings in some scary aspects to living there long term

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 5, 2020

Would add that it's possible for S&T or HFs but no way for IB as the majority of fees are from China deals. If HK is going to lose, it will be Shanghai that benefits.

    • 2
Funniest
Jul 3, 2020

No thanks on hong Kong. Can be arrested by the ccp now for publicly criticizing the Chinese govt or their loser president. Have to watch what I say online in case im monitored and dissapeared by the ccp. Id rather suck a big fat weiner than work there and I'm not even gay.

edit: lol at the hate this post is getting. Hope you hong kong/mainland bros are totally fine being completely and positively cucked by your own government. USA may have issues, but at least I can walk around with a "F%ck Trump/Obama" shirt and make youtube videos that parody the government and not be thrown in jail. I'm not setting foot in that shizhole of a country because I like to criticize things online and in public without fear of arrest. Would be a pathetic existence to be completely controlled by own government on what I can say or support.

    • 44
    • 10
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 4, 2020

.

    • 1
Jul 4, 2020

no its not gonna exist because lots of Americans and Europeans will refuse to work there now based on the recent laws passed there.

    • 6
    • 2
Jul 5, 2020
Prospect in IB - Gen:

lol while I completely agree, you pretty much lose your freedom of speech while working there. But I would be studying there for a year anyway. I think it would be pretty similar to working in China - high deal flow along with an exposure to Asia markets. The big question is whether the good international mix of population would still exist.

LMAO, while you pretty much lose your freedom of speech and individual rights.....BUT.....

Nothing is worth that.

    • 12
Jul 4, 2020

Agree with this guy.

"Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

    • 2
    • 2
Jul 5, 2020

Freedom of speech is def gone. I'm just looking for freedom to work now. Just a chance to put food on plates.

  • Intern in HF - RelVal
Jul 10, 2020

LMAO you have watched too many simple-minded movies dude

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 20, 2020

To anyone that's not aware - the CCP literally pays people like this 50 cents per post to defend these bullshit policies and the Chinese government as a whole. There are some hardcore nationalists out there that will do this for free too, but pay no attention to them. Most common comments look like this or point out some perceived "hypocrisy" of the west.

    • 1
    • 3
Jul 4, 2020

I think we will see more of this happening now:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubs-economists-chines...

Jul 11, 2020

Is it just me or was he clearly talking about livestock not people

    • 1
Jul 12, 2020

Yes, he was talking about livestock but the chinese have a "history" with the term "chinese pigs" given that was what the japanese called them when they invaded China back in WW2. It might seem like water under the bridge now to outsiders but given the rampant nationalism in China, that's not the case

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 20, 2020

Chinese pig has a cultural derogatory connotation

    • 2
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Ind
Jul 4, 2020

HK will continue to be relevant in terms of high finance simply because they serve the mainland China markets.

The BB I work at and some competitors have been increasing headcount in HK especially in area like ECM and certain coverage groups. We had something like 3 MDs join the HK office in the past month.

Work culture IMO is pretty bad across the BBs, particularly in IB. Expect longer work hours in general and more tense culture.

    • 7
Jul 5, 2020

I'm over this fucking place. If any of you American-dwellers want a 42 year old intern throw a brother a lifeline. Fucking hell.

Should you come to HK? No. Unless you want to work in a fucked-up-culture mainland-Chinese organization, or an org owned by mainlanders. I would NEVER work for a mainland organization again. It's not a prejudice thing. My wife and son are Chinese. But the culture of mainland organizations FUCKED up. One day I ought to do an AMA called "Never work for a mainland company." All my friends from China, my mainlander wife, my HK and Taiwanese friends - NO ONE wants to work for a mainland organization. And now we're going to see mainland orgs and investors buy up all the companies in HK. Hyperbole? CLSA is now owned by CITIC. The mainlander banks are getting more % of IPOs, and if you're not a mainlander yourself you're not getting hired. Period. Full stop. Forget Mandarin fluency because that won't get you even an interview much less a job.

    • 18
    • 1
Jul 5, 2020

any plans about moving?

Jul 5, 2020

Absolutely. I did a US job hunt trip in September,and again in February. I need to re-read the WSO networking guide and do Zoom-based outreach to my b-school alumni. The search must begin.

    • 4
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2020

Hi earthwalker7, OP here.
Do you really think there is no room whatsover for International/non-mainland employees - even at the BBs (divisions like S&T/ GCM etc)? asking as someone applying for graduate level positions - about to graduate next year. I have friends who are International who have been able to find jobs at international i-banks but I am currently struggling to even get an interview (despite having a good GPA, extra curriculars & semi-target uni)
Also, since you have worked in HK for so long and would have a lot of insights, why don't you try Singapore or other Asian cities? Is it because you're done w Asia as a whole or do you think lacks opportunity and growth?
Would really appreciate your insight, thanks!

Jul 5, 2020

I think you might have a chance for employment as a new graduate. New grads are seen as more malleable. But it's going to be a lower probability than if you were applying in NYC/London, and you're going to be far less sought after than mainland Chinese candidates. I don't want to piss on anyone's dreams. Maybe you'll be one of the ones who comes out here and makes it, so by all means try. But I think the odds of making it into IBD are very slim. In S&T maybe there's a chance. And maybe there's a chance if you're a quant. But as an example, let's say you've got some TMT experience (maybe an undergrad major in CS, or internship experience). GS's TMT team fields 28 people. Of the 28, only 2 are not mainland Chinese. Actual figures by the way. One is the team head, who has been around for decades, and he's from India. He sort of is grandfathered in by being in the team for decades back from when the city was more cosmopolitan. He was real excited when we spoke, because he just finally managed to hire their first non-mainland in years - an analyst to cover India. The other 26 people are mainlanders. So good luck cracking into a team like that if you're not a mainlander. PWM - ok maybe you have a shot. But they only were giving out offers last I checked in Shanghai or Beijing for mainlanders, and no new seats in HK. So I'm just giving you a realistic portrait of numbers.

S&T - sure this is where foreigners are still able to find work. And that's where you have more of a chance. S&T as a sector is shrinking though. So you're going to be gunning for a small number of seats in a shrinking headcount environment. Perhaps you can land in a HF, or a pan-regional PE firm. Or REPE. I'm not here to discourage you from trying. I'm just giving you insights into the stats. I'd not put all my hopes on a job in this city. I contrast this to 2005 when I first came out. It was not a slam dunk as even then there was preference for mainlanders. But at least then the environment was a bit more welcoming. Now it's much harder. Not discouraging you from trying, but just make sure you know the game and have a plan B.

Now, it's a different matter if you're of another Asian ethnicity and speak the local language. There will always be a place somewhere in HK for a Korean, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian person who can round out a FOF team, a pan-regional PE team, an equity research desk, etc. to give non-China coverage.

As for me, I'm not sure how to play it. As I've mentioned, for family reasons HK is quite ideal. USA would be really taxing on my wife and son. Maybe if I manage to move us to Flushing they wouldn't mind it as much, given the common language and culture. Right now I'm applying to roles in SG, but it's a smaller market and it's harder than before to get an employment pass. So I'm stilll trying here in HK, and also sendign applications and emails to roles in the US. COVID has made that more challenging. Not sure how many firms want a 40-y.o. mid-level PE dude who they can hire without having worked together in the past. I fear it's not a lot of buyers on that offer.

There's a mainland Chinese group that's investing in the US that has floated the idea of me being CIO. But that means working for a mainland Chinese organization, and I'm not a fan of that idea. But I may take it out of necessity.

I had been talking to one startup about joining as CEO but we never came to terms so that's kind of died on the vine.

Re PE here in HK I've not been taken seriously as a deal professional in years. All the mainlanders see laowai as is either a fundraiser or some professional services guy. I'm not a fan of doing fundraising yet again, though it seems now that's been the bulk of my career, unfortunately.

So I am hanging out now in HK, doing a bunch of consulting projects which take me about 60-80 hrs/week, but pay about 1/2 of my last salary. And I'm waiting to see what happens with HK and with my overseas (mostly US) applications via Zoom and email. And I'm grateful for the paid work. That said, when I see how much even 2nd year analysts on this site are getting paid, I really start to question my life decisions.

    • 17
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2020

Thank you man, that really puts things in perspective for me. Am going to keep trying for HK as before, but maybe not put all my eggs in one basket. As an Indian myself, I my chances are pretty slim as it is - given I don't speak Mandarin fluently

All the best for your job search, you seem like a seasoned professional and will definitely find opportunities coming your way!

Jul 5, 2020

Just curious, what's the hate for working for mainlanders?

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jul 5, 2020

To be clear, I have great admiration for the Chinese people, their culture, and their personalities. My wife is Chinese, as are most of my friends. However the corporate culture of mainland firms is just awful. They are hierarchical with single decision markers, and employees are treated as disposable lifeless tools at best. Your opinion isn't only not considered, it is deeply unwelcomed. Who the hell are you to have a thought and opinion? The most important words you need to know are "Yes boss, that's an excellent idea boss. Sure we'll buy the NYC Waldorf for way above market. Yup."

Performance and execution is meaningless. All that matters is politics. You think a western ibank has politics? Buddy, you have no idea. It's Game of Thrones shit all the time. Your manager falls out of favor with the chairman? Your career could be done for. The purge of your whole department is likely.

What they say has no meaning. Only watch their actions.

Ex.1 - I joined a Chinese AM as a senior director of outbound PE investments. They said they would match my previous salary, but not a penny more. OK I told them. They don't trust - they need to see my last signed offer letter and pay stubs. OK here you go. OK, that's your new salary. Fine. I sign my offer letter, quit my lease in SF, and move back to China a month later to start. Well guess what news waits for me on Day1?

"That's still your salary, we'll honor that. But we're holding over 1/3 of your base salary to end of year." Turns out they were having retention problems, due to the company being absolute dicks to everyone. Average employee tenure is <1year. So rather than look at themselves and their issues, they decide to lock up all employees by withholding 1/3 of the base salaries to end of year. WTAF. And I'd just quit my job and moved back to China from SF to take the job. WTAF. OK I just get done swallowing the turd of having 1/3 of my salary withheld to end of year. I do good work, source deals, grind. After a couple of months in China, I lease an apartment. Guess what? "We've decided to move you back to SF early." What about my apartment? "Yeah, good luck with that. Your apartment, your problem." Come on man, I just signed a lease. You can't just throw me around like ragdoll. And I'm still bitter about that whole 'withhold all employee salaries' thing. It ain't right. But ok I get back to SF for a couple of months. "Guess what? We're canceling the US investment strategy." Huh? Come on man. What about my 1/3 missing salary? "Sorry, that's not our problem. The role lasted less than a year, so you don't get that 1/3 salary back." And that's for the country's largest financial organization, not a fly-by-night.

Ex. 1B - sai-ma (lit. horseracing) - mainland companies LOVE to create internally competing teams to cover an opportunity. But it's deeply disturbing to outsiders when they don't know who they are speaking to and how. I was doing outbound investing for a big mainland AM (see Ex 1 above). Well guess what? I had 4 teams internally competing against me. When bankers or brokers wanted to show us deals it was impossible. "Oh that's that other team's contact." Broker says "I am already speaking with your head of US investments." Oh really? Which one of our 5 competing heads of US investments are you speaking to?

Ex 2 - I'm currently interviewing for a role as CIO for a mainland firm. Interviewer can only speak at 5pm on a Friday. OK no problem. Interviewer is 1.5 hours late. No warning no message. Just fails to show up. Calls me randomly 1.5 hours late. We have an interview . She is gushing. Wants me to join. How soon can I start? What's my salary? Can they get a discount? What's the least I will accept? OK really excited at the prospect of you coming aboard. Please do this free work for us. Give us this analysis. Send me your degree scans. Join us at 10pm Wednesday for a deal call. At 12.30am - can you give me quick call to discuss your package?

Then, ghosts me. Literally no response to any wechat message for 3 weeks. Silence. Ghost. Ignores my analysis doc, ignores my occassional request for a call. Ghosting. Then after 3 weeks pops back into the picture.

Ex3 - I help a friend of mine launch a PE fund. I send my wife to be his first employee, I connect him with LPs, I help write his fund docs and PPTs. We're good friends then, and still are. But he knows I'm between jobs so he calls my wife and tries to figure out what's the lowest salary I can survive on. He asks her what our rent is, what our food budget is, etc. He doesn't want to pay market, so he tries to sleuth out info on our living costs from her so that he can make the ultimate low-ball offer to just cover my COL. And that's a good friend acting this way.

Ex 4 - I'm doing consulting work for a large AM from China. They want to sell their shares in a pre-IPO company. They have me pretend to be a buyer, and search the market for a seller. I find a selling broker of these shares. Good. OK now we pretend we are buyers so that we get dataroom access so we can use those docs to sell the deal. Then they take a couple of weeks to sign an NDA. Then we get dataroom access and they download and use the broker's docs and sell their stake. Ironically then they see more demand so they see a chance to be an intermediary and buy the broker's stake and sell it on as well. So now they really are sellers! OK broker needs proof of funds and an LOI. After a week the mainland AM sends only a screenshot of their stock account, with the name cropped off, and an unfilled out template SPA doc. WTH guys? You want to buy the stake, you got to accomodate the seller's very reasonable requests, otherwise you're wasting their time. Back and forth for 2-3 weeks until the deal dies due to time. No professionalism, no honesty, no transparency, and just dicking around and wasting everyone's time. If it was an isolated case, I'd understand, but it's actually how business is done.

Ex 5 - what carried interest? There's no carry unless you're the CEO, or maybe the top 3 founding partners. I worked for the #1 PE shop in China. They would brag to LPs that everyone in the firm gets carry. Oh yeah how much? After 3 years at mid-senior (VP/Dir) level, your carried interest is literally worth less than a lunch. Maybe worth 30-50 RMB. The idea of carry is just for show to placate LPs, not to actually pay you.

Separately one of the major VCs in China, a household name, actually does have a good carry program. Problem is, if you leave for any reason, the CEO has the right to claw back your carry at its original cost! So don't ever leave the firm kid or get fired, or you'll lose all your upside. And of cours you only get told of this term in your carried interest contract AFTER you've quit your other job, moved to Shanghai, and started working.

And it's not just me. My mainlander wife spent a summer at a BB bracket for MBA internship and despite the politics and hard work beatdown she still came out of it saying "I'll never work for a mainland firm again. Western firms are so much better."

My Taiwanese friend just quit a senior level job at a big Chinese PE house with no job in hand just because he's sick of the politics.

My mainland b-school classmate quit her mainlander firm to go back to SF and work their for a non-mainland company.

I could absolutely do an AMA on this.So yeah, why don't I want to work for a mainland firm? I think I'd rather pound my cock with a hammer. At least I'd get to hold the hammer.

    • 56
Jul 5, 2020

Trust me, your son will adapt. Truthfully, the sooner you move the better for your son, doesn't matter where you go.

Array

    • 1
  • Analyst 2 in S&T - Equities
Jul 9, 2020

As someone who grew up in PRC, educated in US and now working at US BB in HK, I couldn't agree more on what EW says.

Jul 8, 2020

Hey, there's actually a thread called "Why I left BAT (Baidu, Aliaba, Tencent)", I came across it a year / 2 years ago. I didn't write it (just to clarify).

Would love to read your thread if you start one.

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Jul 5, 2020

I have replied similar posts and basically HK will remain as a key financial hub due to many reasons.

However, I agree what EW said. Don't have high hopes working in HK or China if you are non-PRC. I would push it further to add that even PE/IBD at BB or MF are almost undoable as a non-PRC (even for Hongkie, Singaporean, etc.).

Unless you are seconded or rotated from New York as a very senior MD (with their blessing and lifeline to return NY), otherwise you be completely fucked over given your lack of Chinese cultural knowledge and native mandarin ability (using phrases and slangs PRC uses).

Edit: I worked a BB and now at an MM PE in the region. Life is extremely tough as a non-PRC and I would advise anyone who are looking for an easier entry to look somewhere else.

HK is easier for you if you are US university educated (much less so if you spend significant time of your high school abroad) mainland Chinese. Otherwise, it would be extremely tough to get in and survive. Some of my former colleagues just toss away resumes with non-PRC names directly and this is the reality. Out of 20+ interns my former BB had, only 2 were non-PRC and they are Hongkies (which is quite rare these days)

    • 1
Jul 5, 2020

There you have it OP. 20 person intenship class, 18 mainlanders, 2 Honkies, 0 foreigners. My wife was an MBA intern at a BB 5 years ago. 10 or so interns, all mainlanders, no Honkies or other, only 2 offers made. Interns could select either SH or BJ. No HK offers given at all.

And I agree with the above. HK will remain a global financial center. Whom will sit in those seats has changed.

Jul 5, 2020

Any thoughts on how SGP is? If I am at a T20 MBA in the US (International student) and want to do IB FT:

1) What are the timelines for FT IB?
2) How does the work authorization look like?
3) Is FT IB possible without an IB internship ?

Thank you.

    • 1
Jul 5, 2020

Also interested in this and curious if internships (at associate level) exist in SG IB?

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Jul 5, 2020

Mba associate is almost non-existent in Asia these days. Some firms may offer it but chances is extremely low and competitive.

If you have done IBD before your MBA, then it is more likely to join laterally. Otherwise you have close to no chance because they don't have campus associate opening and it is very difficult to convince anyone to hire an outsider with no experience vs an analyst who have gone through 10-3am analyst years.

Work authorization is not an issue at BB in SG.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 9, 2020

BB in SG for assocs mostly A2A and laterals from regional / MM banks

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 5, 2020

HK is a toxic place and is becoming increasingly so now with all the mainland Peking/Tsinghua/Fudan/HKU/HKUST Math/Finance/BBA graduates filling recruitment.

Zero collegiality. Avoid at all cost.

Singapore has better lifestyle and people typically represent a better balance of western/eastern mindset IMO. However devoid of nature and toxic schooling system for your family/kids.

    • 2
  • Intern in S&T - FI
Jul 5, 2020
Summer Associate in IB-M&amp;A:

HK is a toxic place and is becoming increasingly so now with all the mainland Peking/Tsinghua/Fudan/HKU/HKUST Math/Finance/BBA graduates filling recruitment.

Zero collegiality. Avoid at all cost.

Singapore has better lifestyle and people typically represent a better balance of western/eastern mindset IMO. However devoid of nature and toxic schooling system for your family/kids.

bit of an exaggeration but sadly I largely agree....as a hongkie myself we're defo a dying breed (at an increasingly rapid rate given the politics), I think among all the BB S&T interns this summer only ~10 of us are hongkies (either local or foreign uni). There's a splatter of indians, taiwanese and SE Asians but the ovewhelming majority is definitely mainland chinese - at any given BB I am sure their intern class (regardless of division) is at the very least 60% mainland chinese. Very difficult to make the cut as a Hongkie these days and most get pushed to tier-2 banks or BB corp banking/MO/BO

I kinda disagree with the zero collegiality part since it has more to do with the fact that banks these days are targeting nerdier kids to begin with so IMO it's more of a recruiting issue

BTW, toxic schooling system - heard sg is pretty bad but hk is quite fucked up too...tons of stress/academic-related student suicides these years, not to mention curriculum censorship, propaganda, schools banning political voices within campus.....list goes on and on, at least sg rn is stable lmao (I think??)

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2020

as a white person, am i allowed to use the term hongkies

    • 1
  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Jul 5, 2020

As a hongkie myself with experiences working in SG, I can tell you the schooling system and working culture in HK is a piece of cake vs SG.

Singaporeans are very used to the cut throat system there and for them failure is a part of natural selection. You don't see so many kids jumping off building because they have been taught that way since day 1 (unlike HK). In SG, they were taught if you don't perform, we can beat HK, we can't sustain GDP #1 and other SEA countries will catch up.

Their system pushes them to be best kids. The system tells them if you don't study extremely hard, you are fucked. If you don't have good extracurriculars, you are fucked. And then when everyone is studying so hard with loads of activities, you are just a mediocre kid being one of them, so parents push these people further. If you spend your early childhood in HK, chances of suiciding is higher if you suddenly move to a SG schooling system because you lack the pressure tolerance they teach since early childhood. If I have a kid, I would rather send them to SPCC instead of Raffles even I know Raffles produces 40+ oxbridge a year.

Look at IBD as an example, very few in HK with knowledge of SG working environment would go there. The typical hours there are like 2-3 hours longer. I once had an SG analyst under me. He told me during his SA, he slept in office for half of the internship. While he is an outlier, others are not much better than him, loads of them still up at 5am. They have a stronger culture than HK in terms of working for the sake of working. Even in other posts, you will sometimes see WSO kids from SG asking if they can apply to HK and there is a reason.

P.s. I doubt there are only 10 hongkies a year in s&t. Back in a few years ago, cuhk and ust qf each produces 8-12 s&t Hongkie interns a year. Adding other majors such as gbus and bba and also addint in HKU/foreign unis, the numbers should be around ~30

Jul 5, 2020

I don't know if I'd go so far as to call HK toxic. But it sure is getting harder to compete against mainlanders. And look, fair enough. There are many smart mainland people, and some of them want a shot at a great HK career. But it's just so hard to find a job as a non-mainlander, when that's what is being sought out. OP needs to know that.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2020

After reading all these comments, Asia seems like a fat L. I hope the situation gets better for you all

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 5, 2020

If you aren't fluent/native in an Asian language, there's really no place for you in IBD/PE in Asia, whether HK or Singapore. Even if some firms still has expats, none of them are entry level. Your chances are much higher looking for jobs in S&T, asset management, FoF, investor relations or consulting, etc..

Jul 5, 2020

Truth be told even IF you're fluent, you'll never be truly native or seen as a local. And it's fair right? If you're doing PE in China, you'll be negotiating with CEOs who prefer to sell a piece of their company to someone they trust. That means they would rather sell to someone from their home province. Certainly not some weird foreigner. Same thing for most IBD. If you want to be guided along the IPO path it's generally more comfortable to be guided along by someone who is from your home province. Business is always about human interaction and relationships, so it's going to be easier for a local to build those. I guess I just like HK and am comfortable enough, but for sure I've overstayed by a decade.

    • 4
Jul 5, 2020
earthwalker7:

Truth be told even IF you're fluent, you'll never be truly native or seen as a local. And it's fair right? If you're doing PE in China, you'll be negotiating with CEOs who prefer to sell a piece of their company to someone they trust. That means they would rather sell to someone from their home province. Certainly not some weird foreigner. Same thing for most IBD. If you want to be guided along the IPO path it's generally more comfortable to be guided along by someone who is from your home province. Business is always about human interaction and relationships, so it's going to be easier for a local to build those. I guess I just like HK and am comfortable enough, but for sure I've overstayed by a decade.

THIS. (+SB)

As someone who speaks multiple Asian languages and has sat in various roles in financial services and had most of my career in Asia (I recently got out - it was NOT easy), I cannot stress these points enough. Having met and spoken to @earthwalker7 in person, everything stated in this thread is super spot on.

Unless you are native or somehow well connected strategically (in which case you are not on WSO) forget building a real bigshot kind of Asia career unless there is some big link for you to represent the mothership from your own country (which means you are on temporary secondment or super senior and going as a figurehead), or maybe in something like S&T (which is dying - but you are the trusted voice to like the Paul Tudor Joneses of the world - literally) or in a HF, or raising capital (where you will be the trusted foreign face/well paid babysitter/admin person and nothing else, really).

Doesn't matter if you speak native level Korean/Mandarin etc if you don't LOOK the part. Even more so if you don't come from the right background (family connections, going to the right school etc). Parents were diplomats and you speak native level Korean and know all of the mannerisms since, well you were born and raised there, but have blond hair and blue eyes? Yeah, sorry. No sale.

Asia - and this includes HK/SG are NOT the "West" and by that, I very narrowly mean the US/Canada/UK/OZ. The "Western" places I just mentioned have an active history and culture of immigration. You can essentially come from anywhere, work hard, get a passport and have the rights of citizenship. Sure it may be impossible to get into a country club or a cop may shoot you, but you can, with a lot of luck and a lot of hard work, become a senior government official, or lead a large company, or do deals at high levels despite looking different. Because people increasingly don't care what you look like or where you are from. Ok, they kind of do, but they are used to seeing different looking people and dealing with them, often on a daily basis. As customers, counterparts, etc etc.

This is NOT the case in Asia. Like mentioned above, the Chinese pet food company in Shanghai will only want to deal with Mainland Chinese people, very strongly preferably from Shanghai, who are connected to other people from Shanghai that can also help them out. Not from Shanghai? You had better be the best of the best of the best from Mainland China and be able to do a much better job than your Shanghainese competition and be able to make the dude like a TON of money. No one else need apply.

Multiply that sentiment by, well, every country/region around Asia-Pac. These are relatively closed societies.

I wrote this long post to add to the one above it just so younger types who are interested in Asia can go in with more open eyes and the potential limitations and challenges of a career in Asia in a number of fields in this business.

I hope this helps.

Good Luck

    • 7
Jul 6, 2020

This may be a little off topic, but as a former US/NY IBD analyst that transitioned to a role in Asia MF PE, I largely agree with the above points made on working in Asia/HK/China, though would caveat that I feel they are on the extreme side. The readers here have to bear in mind that WSO is a US-centric (to a certain extent Western-centric) career industry discussions forum, where basically all the views are from the point of the US as the center of the world (such has how Chinese forums would view China as the center of the world).

The above users' views on Asia are largely this way due to the fast changing nature of the region, and how much their respective roles in these markets have shifted over the past 10-20 years. Asia as most people know, especially China, has been anything but constant during this time:

1) the amount of talent that has flooded the market as people's standards of living have risen

2) the skills and backgrounds needed to service and cater to the market have shifted due to increased complexity and focus on local corporations and markets (vs. in the past more business from multinational background companies in China, HK-centric conglomerates, Singaporean giants, and more foreign-friendly Taiwanese companies)

3) the increased competition from local investment banks and private equity firms (the need to be just as local, compete for the same business, and be "on the ground")

The hiring situation today is merely a function of the above changes. This has resulted in people of Western background being pushed out, and the importance of local language fluency as a basic prerequisite now for most of these roles. If you were say, a mainland Chinese, local Malaysian, or local South Korean college graduate, what is expected of you in the US is quite on par with what is expected of you in China: 1) local language fluency in English (quite easily met as the whole world learns English at some point or another), 2) ability to mesh well enough with the local employees and potential clients (this is screened through the highly behavioral and social skills-focused interview process that IB/PE roles in the US entail), 3) deal sourcing/execution skills needed (that in most likely circumstances are significantly better suited for local Americans who have spent their whole lives in the US, proficient in the same culture, or other nationalities of similar culture such as Europeans or Canadians etc.).

What I'm trying to say is if you pluck a South Korean 24 year old from Seoul fluent in English and drop him in NYC to do PE execution and eventually sourcing as a Associate/Senior Associate, down the line he most likely WILL get pushed out. For him to have had a decent chance of getting in high finance in NY or the US for that matter, he would have had multiple hoops to jump through, including but not limited to college acceptance in the US, mastery of English to graduate with a US-college degree, networking/interview process to get the job at these firms that are highly weighted towards social skills and being able to "get along" with coworkers and clients of a completely different culture let alone compete against. This is exactly why I saw a ton of international Koreans and Chinese students (NOT American born Asians) in my college that struck out of IBD recruiting (resorted for Big 4 roles) due to these natural barriers to entry. (International Indians fared better from my experience) Even if this korean kid did break in, unless he is absolutely a rockstar, there's really not much of a chance that he would make a career out of it long term, especially as the role evolves into sourcing.

If it took this much for these internationals to have made it into the US, there's no reason to suspect less for a non-Chinese to break into a China-centric market. Just because you are fluent in English (which there are a lot more people in the world who are), doesn't mean you have even a small chance of getting into high finance in the US. Like everyone knows, IBD/PE isn't rocket science, hence being able to do the job doesn't get you the job for either market. I think everyone, all else equal (family, lifestyle, personal reasons), should absolutely play to their strengths. If you're a born and bred American that can't speak a lick of anything other than English, unless you're prepared to take on the uncertainties of a role in Singapore, covering South East Asia for example, I usually would suggest people stay in their home market. Same of a Thai kid who wants to do banking in NYC and pursue a career in PE to eventually become a BSD on Wall Street.

Overall, I just don't see what the big fuss is about. The market has developed over the past decades, and has undergone changes that are perfectly normal. It used to be that HK/SG lacked financial talent, hence the need for NYC or US professionals to come over. Now, that is clearly not the case. I have nothing to add on working for a Chinese Company, as I lack experience to speak to it. On Hong Kong, barring the free speech thing aside, I don't foresee too many changes based on my conversations with my ex-colleagues in that market. Internet is still unblocked, markets will still be there, life goes on. Unless you have a propensity to be politically outspoken to the point that you have a need to walk around with a "F&CK [Insert Political Figure Here]" shirt or discuss your views extensively online, I don't see much of a problem with the future of Hong Kong's high finance industry.

    • 27
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 6, 2020

This. Thanks for your insight

Jul 6, 2020

I think this post sums up much of what I was trying to say re: localization in a far more organized and succinct way than I could. +SB

I would say though, having seen a fair few of my foreign born classmates get into and do well in financial services here in the US is that one can do it. We have a very foreign born and sounding GP who runs over a billion USD. We have another GP who is a sector specialist and also very foreign sounding... Because they are good at what they do and get the job done. No one cares that one of the guys is from Istanbul rather than Indiannapolis. Now that's not always the case. But it can be done.

Not the same in most Asian societies which are still closed off and pretty narrow looking. It is what it is. And since we are in financial SERVICES, one has to adjust to service the client.

The issue with Asia is... The quality of the talent pool is so abysmally bad. The quality of training, execution, actual knowledge of anything,sector expertise, or general demand to do so is beyond awful. Whether its a diligence process, research, the ability to ask actual questions, present or do anything, really. It is something that headhunters, senior management and plenty of others comment on all the time, and that's a comment across nationalities.

it is also why it's so difficult for many to leave. It's not just one's networks. The perception (which is true) is that the quality of talent and skills needed is lower. The other thing is to look at the returns in general of Asia PE and HFs. Especially over the longer run, they generally under-perform their western counterparts (if they even exist for the long term or not) AND are more volatile.

All of this is why, I generally advise many people to start their careers where better trained people are. They can then take those abilities to Asia. Otherwise, it really is just a game of "who do you know and where are you from" rather than "what can you do for me"

On HK's future, I generally agree with the poster above. However, I do fear that it is a touch sanguine, especially on the deal side. Much of the success of any deal rests on the viability of the legal system, especially if there is a disagreement on either side. Many legal systems, are, erm, manipulated throughout the region and HK was one of those that was seen to be far less so. Whether that will remain the case going forward, especially given when certain parties/individuals can now pretty much override anything, remains to be seen.

    • 5
Jul 6, 2020

On the point of foreign-born professionals doing well in the US, I would be willing to wager that if they are in a more soft-skills driven field such as IBD/PE (vs. quant funds/HFT), then they are most likely coming from another "Western" country or at least closer in roots (Turkey being a sufficient example). Value systems, proficiency of English, and proximity to Europe, are all inherent advantages vs. a South Korean. Not to mention, looks are also closer. But overall, the sheer volume and density of foreign talent that flock to the US is also alone enough to explain why there are more "foreign-born" success stories. The US market is one of the most attractive for talented professionals globally, the prospect of living and staying in the US is in itself highly attractive in addition to the developed financial industry and deep job market. You just don't see as much top top tier American/European talent going to Asia, and most of these people that do end up in Asia are there due to interest/personal reasons rather than their hope to live a better life. Quite different I would say.

On your point of societies, I do have to agree with you. Asian societies are inherently more homogeneous and have a tendency to far more likely trust what is familiar. Though I would argue this can be seen just as often in European coverage jobs such as German private equity coverage. Are you really going to send a Russian to do negotiate and execute a German family's private equity buyout? The US is unique in that 1) it is the most developed financial market by far, 2) it has a recent history of being one of the most accepting countries/markets in the world and as closest to a melting pot of cultures/nationalities across all the major financial markets in the world.

In terms of talent, I can see where you are coming from, but do have to add that how you define the training needed for execution, sector expertise, etc. is very dependent on market. Buyout, technical focused, granular analysis, in-depth due diligence was an absolute overkill for the type of deals that was prevalent at the early onset of PE in Asia. Not just in terms of potential fees that would have been incurred, but also attention devoted to, applying a buyout-focused skillset and lens to evaluate the VC/Growth equity deals that were most common in Asia was equivalent to killing a fly with a hammer. It just wasn't needed, and wasn't so much that the talent in the Asian market was incapable of doing deals and producing work of the same quality. The buyout market simply didn't exist in Asia, as everything was growing high double digits or above annually. This isn't the growth equity type of investing we are talking about in North America (GA, TCV, BXG, WP), but industrial component manufacturers that were experiencing explosive growth. The skills needed at this time were sourcing, deal negotiation, dealing with "wild west" high ego first generation entrepreneur founders, packaging the deal the right way, and making sure you're betting about in the right direction. I would argue the skillsets needed for deals nowadays in SEA and China are pretty high in terms of caliber, with the mixture of buyout, tech growth equity, and in some other markets corporate carveouts (Japan and Korea), and can personally attest to that.

On your point of returns, I agree for the most part. But the market's growth speaks for itself. Investors' demand for the Asia PE product have only been growing (KKR's $10bn first clost, Hillhouse's $10bn PE fund, Carlyle's $6.5bn+ Asia PE fund). There is a clear demand from a portfolio construction standpoint for exposure to Asia. DPI, IRR, MoM, are a function of the various market conditions across the various geographies, so that's a topic for another day.

And finally, I would have to disagree with your point on where someone should start out at. The thought that you should start their careers where they are "better trained", namely New York/US, is no longer the clear cut answer. Its more complex than that now. In fact, I would argue for more specialized markets, where "local deal experience" is valued above NY deal experience, it is crucial to get that exposure before looking for a PE job in Asia IF your long term goal is to be in that market. Otherwise, yes, NY does provide the most optionality if you want to consider switching markets globally (not just Asia). I cannot see why a China MF team will hire a JPM TMT NY Analyst, who while speaks mandarin fluently, has not done any China deals vs. the MS M&A HK Analyst who has closed 3 China M&A deals in the past 2 years. There are obvious exceptions and complexities (different firm preferences, PE strategies, language requirements, years of experiences), but after my time in Asia, I can confidently say that there are times where I can absolutely see the HK IBD Analyst absolutely crushing the NY IBD Analyst for PE roles where its not just about doing the most complex deal possible (holding language constant). For people that are looking to Asia as a long-term career, they need to consider multiple factors rather than just relying on the old notion that NY is where "better trained people are." Sometimes, those abilities picked up in NY just do not apply to Asia, and thats not to say these deals in Asia aren't complex either. Just a matter of different skillset needs and deal/market environment.

    • 7
Jul 6, 2020

I broadly agree with your points above @zyxvzyxv Except that whereas in the US someone who is ethnically Korean or Chinese can still find a role on Wall Street and do deals in the US. In Asia, speaking the language is not sufficient. If you're not from that country, you're not going to land deals. And over time roles for non-mainlanders have shrunk, where even Hongkies or Taiwanese people are finding life difficult. My Aussie-Chinese friends and ABC/BBC friends are having trouble. So there's an an overlay of preference towards mainlanders, and a prejudice against other people, which I don't think is as absolute in the USA. Of course, the US has no shortage of prejudice but it's not as universal or absolute. And I'd say this prejudice is more closeted now, and not socially acceptable. In Asia, locking the foreigners out isn't just socially acceptable, it's seen as natural, normal and good business. Of course, that degree of openness in Wall Street is a relatively recent and still incomplete scenario. In Asia, its' quickly becoming a 'mainlanders only need apply.' And OP and others need to know that before they pin their long-term plans on HK as a place to practition.

    • 3
Jul 7, 2020

Agree for the most part. As a mainlander, one thing I'd like to add is that I don't believe Hongkongers and Taiwanese people are disadvantaged when it comes to working in finance in HK or Greater China in general.

First, they have no restrictions to stay and work in mainland. Legally, PRC treats them as citizens. Second, there are a ton of high execs at large Chinese corporations who are from HK and Taiwan as Hongkongers and Taiwanese people were the first groups of people to invest in China when PRC opened up its market decades ago. Even to date, lots of investment firms in China/HK are backed by Taiwanese and HK capital.

From a cultural perspective, Non-PRC Chinese can still blend in if they don't talk about politics all day openly to their superiors and colleagues. Language-wise, they do have an accent but who doesn't? So it doesn't really matter.

But I agree with you it is truly difficult for non-asians to break in high finance in Greater China including HK.
You can think of it this way. Breaking into high finance in Asia as non-asians is just as difficult for East Asians to break in finance in India or Latin America. Should be no complaints.

    • 2
Jul 6, 2020
zyxvzyxv:

This may be a little off topic, but as a former US/NY IBD analyst that transitioned to a role in Asia MF PE, I largely agree with the above points made on working in Asia/HK/China, though would caveat that I feel they are on the extreme side. The readers here have to bear in mind that WSO is a US-centric (to a certain extent Western-centric) career industry discussions forum, where basically all the views are from the point of the US as the center of the world (such has how Chinese forums would view China as the center of the world).

The above users' views on Asia are largely this way due to the fast changing nature of the region, and how much their respective roles in these markets have shifted over the past 10-20 years. Asia as most people know, especially China, has been anything but constant during this time:

1) the amount of talent that has flooded the market as people's standards of living have risen

2) the skills and backgrounds needed to service and cater to the market have shifted due to increased complexity and focus on local corporations and markets (vs. in the past more business from multinational background companies in China, HK-centric conglomerates, Singaporean giants, and more foreign-friendly Taiwanese companies)

3) the increased competition from local investment banks and private equity firms (the need to be just as local, compete for the same business, and be "on the ground")

The hiring situation today is merely a function of the above changes. This has resulted in people of Western background being pushed out, and the importance of local language fluency as a basic prerequisite now for most of these roles. If you were say, a mainland Chinese, local Malaysian, or local South Korean college graduate, what is expected of you in the US is quite on par with what is expected of you in China: 1) local language fluency in English (quite easily met as the whole world learns English at some point or another), 2) ability to mesh well enough with the local employees and potential clients (this is screened through the highly behavioral and social skills-focused interview process that IB/PE roles in the US entail), 3) deal sourcing/execution skills needed (that in most likely circumstances are significantly better suited for local Americans who have spent their whole lives in the US, proficient in the same culture, or other nationalities of similar culture such as Europeans or Canadians etc.).

What I'm trying to say is if you pluck a South Korean 24 year old from Seoul fluent in English and drop him in NYC to do PE execution and eventually sourcing as a Associate/Senior Associate, down the line he most likely WILL get pushed out. For him to have had a decent chance of getting in high finance in NY or the US for that matter, he would have had multiple hoops to jump through, including but not limited to college acceptance in the US, mastery of English to graduate with a US-college degree, networking/interview process to get the job at these firms that are highly weighted towards social skills and being able to "get along" with coworkers and clients of a completely different culture let alone compete against. This is exactly why I saw a ton of international Koreans and Chinese students (NOT American born Asians) in my college that struck out of IBD recruiting (resorted for Big 4 roles) due to these natural barriers to entry. (International Indians fared better from my experience) Even if this korean kid did break in, unless he is absolutely a rockstar, there's really not much of a chance that he would make a career out of it long term, especially as the role evolves into sourcing.

If it took this much for these internationals to have made it into the US, there's no reason to suspect less for a non-Chinese to break into a China-centric market. Just because you are fluent in English (which there are a lot more people in the world who are), doesn't mean you have even a small chance of getting into high finance in the US. Like everyone knows, IBD/PE isn't rocket science, hence being able to do the job doesn't get you the job for either market. I think everyone, all else equal (family, lifestyle, personal reasons), should absolutely play to their strengths. If you're a born and bred American that can't speak a lick of anything other than English, unless you're prepared to take on the uncertainties of a role in Singapore, covering South East Asia for example, I usually would suggest people stay in their home market. Same of a Thai kid who wants to do banking in NYC and pursue a career in PE to eventually become a BSD on Wall Street.

Overall, I just don't see what the big fuss is about. The market has developed over the past decades, and has undergone changes that are perfectly normal. It used to be that HK/SG lacked financial talent, hence the need for NYC or US professionals to come over. Now, that is clearly not the case. I have nothing to add on working for a Chinese Company, as I lack experience to speak to it. On Hong Kong, barring the free speech thing aside, I don't foresee too many changes based on my conversations with my ex-colleagues in that market. Internet is still unblocked, markets will still be there, life goes on. Unless you have a propensity to be politically outspoken to the point that you have a need to walk around with a "F&CK [Insert Political Figure Here]" shirt or discuss your views extensively online, I don't see much of a problem with the future of Hong Kong's high finance industry.

"discuss your views extensively online" that's a pretty big thing to give up, you act like its some extreme activist thing. many people will refuse to comply with a culture like that. future of hong kong is like dubai. sure, there is a finance scene there, and many are willing to deal with a despot government that imprisons gays and runs the country as an oppressive muslim theocracy, but a larger majority of westerners will refuse to relocate there over nyc/london and will certainly refuse to bring families there.

Jul 7, 2020

What are your thoughts on China's higher education and entry into it? I graduated college a few years back and there were a lot of internationals in my program who were from mainland china. Most of those that i met talked about going to a school in the US primarily because one rigorous entrance exam in China determined your fate of entering a Chinese university. It's not really clear though if you don't perform well enough and don't have the financial means to attend school abroad, i mean what are those kids able to do? Are they going to a school and studying where the population matches how they tested?

    • 1
    • 1
Jul 7, 2020

One shot one kill. If you don't score high on the gao-kao your life is over. I mean it. No hyperbole. You are just boned, and your professional life is over as of high school senior year.
A re-test is possible, but you have to wait a full year to do so. Otherwise no second chances in China.

Your hukou (right of residence in a city) matters a lot too. It's a sort of affirmative-action for locals. The top universities are pretty much all in Shanghai and Beijing. Each university in SH and BJ has a certain % of seats for local hukou residence. So whereas you could be a top 5-10% student in SH or BJ and still get into a top school you would need to be top 2% student in your provincial non-SH/BJ school to get a seat in a SH/BJ school. This what makes social mobility in China so difficult. If you live in SH or BJ you automatically have access to better schools and a better chance at decent employment. If you had the bad luck to be born in China but outside of SH and BJ you're boned.

This also means you MUST score high on the gao kao annual examination, AND ideally be from SH or BJ itself. That's why so many Chinese students go overseas to study. Their parents have means (or borrow) and they want their kids to have a shot at employment. America has no idea what cut-throat is. China's a bloodbath.

Oh, are you a sub-10% test taker in a SH-BJ school? Fuck you, go to a poor uni and crap job.
Did you grow up outside of SH / BJ and test well but not super-well-top-2%? Fuck you, go clean toilets.
Oh you tested bad on the one annual exam given on one day? Had a cold or flu? Got nervous? Fuck you, go wait tables forever.
Oh, you don't test well on physics or chemistry? Your math not brilliant? Fuck you, you're a pig farmer. Enjoy.

You ask what happens to those who don't test well? They get BONED. Just raped, beaten and left in the massive tens-of-millions-of-people rubbish heap of human misery. The number of smart and hard-working but under-employed Chinese people are legion. Count your blessings you guys if you were born in the US, because other nations have no mercy.

    • 8
Jul 6, 2020

I wonder if your nationality/home country isn't an important factor in this case. Many of the answers here are talking the West versus HK for finance, to which the answer seems clear: don't go to HK as a foreigner unless you have something very special to offer (and this is very unlikely) or big personal reason to do so. But I'd imagine HK is still the best/only option for candidates from EM countries.

Jul 6, 2020

agree, especially in APAC

Array

Jul 8, 2020

ok, but I'd still rather be SOL in ibanking recruiting in the US than fail to get into a decent school in China. In the US you have a myriad of second chances. Even if you fail to get into IBD you can always do any of a thousand other worthwhile jobs that pay a living wage. And frankly, if you screw up your SAT, you can take it again and again, and if you don't get into H/P/Y/S, you can still go to NYU/UVA/UCB/UCLA. You can spend a couple of years at CC and transfer to a target, or start at a non-target uni and transfer. You can hustle up an internship thru connections and apply to IBD anyway, and if IBD falls thru there's MBB or FAANG, or Bechtel or whatnot. In the US you can pick your major. In China, you almost can't. You have points from your gao-kao test and then you have to game the system. You might have enough points to get comfortably into Beida/Tsinghua/Fudan, but not enough for a sought-after major like CS or Econ. You may have to take a major like rando-engineering or humanities in order to get a seat in a target university. Get my drift? No one said the US is easy, but China is a bloodbath of competition that just brutalizes 90% of the people. If you work in finance you maybe see the top 2-5% of the population. Everyone else is under-employed. Now, the living situation in China has advanced a lot, so even your lower-classes now have it much better than before. But I'm not going to bucket an Ivy-league grad who failed to get into IBD because he wasnt' a black transvestite with the misery of your 90%+ people in China. It's just a totally different world.

    • 4
    • 1
Jul 8, 2020

I agree with you that I'd rather be in the US if I had the choice. What I meant was, where does the talented student from Jakarta or Ulaanbaatar or Mumbai, who can't afford a US education, go if they want to open up more opportunities for themselves in the future? Isn't HK going to remain the top/only choice unless they're entrepreneurial enough to do something back home or in another EM? Even if they decide to leave eventually, I'm assuming for many of these students HK has the same branding value as doing a two year stint in NYC used to have for mainland candidates before they went back home. And even if they want to make it out to the US one day, which is so hard nowadays for internationals, they would still have to go through one of these intermediary countries before having the chance.

    • 1
    • 1
Jul 9, 2020

Respectfully disgree. I would say that for someone from the US you indeed have seen a lot of how things work in China. However I disagree with the part on education. In my country we have dual-track system in which one is similar to the US (you take a standardized test and then submit applications up to 5~6 schools alongside your extracurriculars, SOP etc.) and another similar to the gaokao (in which you take another standardized test) and then see which school/major you can land into. For the 1st track, rich people can afford to send their kids to volunteer in some rural Asian countries and the well-connected can have their kids listed alongside a research paper (or at lest intern at a lab). For the 2nd track, people are faced with the same decision of whether to do a random degree at maybe only 1 or 2 top-target (mind you , it's only a target within the country and not very competitive in Asia as a whole) or study a hot major at a lesser school.

Oh and people def do retake the exams as well here, though it takes a year as well. Mostly for people who are dead set on becoming a doctor.

Or you can take Korea and Japan, which each have their different quirks. Again, I feel like your take is a bit ethnocentric. Can't comment on the working part too much, but again I think Beida and Tsinghua are just higher ranked than the top schools in my country and even HK's, so there's bound to be some advantage. And there's also the fact that a lot of Hong Kong kids aren't as comfortable with Mandarin (their mother tongue is Cantonese).

  • Investment Analyst in AM - FI
Jul 7, 2020

.

Jul 8, 2020

So the TLDR from this chat appears to be "China employment is unfair, HK employment is unfair, and US is also unfair." FML is it too late to become a plumber?

Seriously tho, I'm going to really have to improve and upgrade my skills if I'm to go back to US and compete with technically-stronger folks.

    • 3
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 8, 2020

Just think about Continental European offices like Paris, Marid, Frankfurt where it's even more unfair for non-natives.

    • 4
Jul 26, 2020

To be fair, if you don't speak the language / aren't a local, what are you doing in the Paris / Milan / Frankfurt office? What's your value-add? 99% of the deals there are servicing local companies do local things (listing on the local exchange, acquiring a local competitor, etc.) Sure you have the occasional deal of a foreign PE / conglomerate buying up a domestic player, but even then your most likely role is sellside advisor to the local firm.

Now if you are a Turk in Germany or an Algerian in France the type of discrimination you face in high finance is admittedly very intense. Even if you grew up in the country and speak the language flawlessly you will be denied opportunities just based off your looks + racial stereotyping - something much less likely to happen in London / NY.

Array

    • 1
  • Intern in S&T - Other
Jul 8, 2020

Secured a BB S&T SA in London, but I'd say with my background, I have near zero chance to break into FO in HK/SG or even SH/BJ. The competition in Asia (even if being a native mandarin speaker) is much more brutal due to limited headcount/business but a large pool of talents

    • 3
Jul 8, 2020

You're competing for a limited number of spots with all the turtles from London, NY + the local kids so yeah that makes sense.

  • Intern in S&T - Other
Jul 9, 2020

Exactly! The pool for HK is like all the US TARGET UG/Master+ all the UK TARGET UG/Master (we can try to ignore continental Europe target school for London office)+ HK top3 UG/Master + Mainland UG/Master (even if we just include Top2 in BJ & Top2 in SH as Target) =tons of talents every year globally
On the other hand, HK BB/MM probably only has 1/4 or 1/5 headcount comparing to US and 1/2 headcount comparing to London
And don't forget another fact: plenty of juniors based in the US originally relocate to HK every year because they are not lucky enough to get H1B

    • 2
Jul 8, 2020

lol it's not like there's no bamboo ceiling in the US for Asians...

    • 6
Jul 9, 2020

There really isn't. I'm about as extreme minority as possible and have never had issues in PE. Cold called multiple founders of chunky funds with 0 issues, never been refused a call.

Is racism real? Yes. Is it impossible to overcome in the US? Definitely not.

Jul 9, 2020

Having worked on the sell-side (non-IBD) FO in a non-HK (East Asian location), I feel that there are more Westerners in high upper management than you would see of Asian counterparts in the US. They maybe have some sort of grasp of the culture in Asia but definitely not the language (definitely not to the same degree of English of Asian kids who grew up in Asia but working in the US). Of course this also has to do with the fact that a lot of the funds investing are hiring Westerners in the first place.

Not saying that it's impossible to overcome and wouldn't attribute the lack of Asians in the upper echelons 100% to racism, but there are indeed subtle social cues that is harder to pick up that works both ways.

    • 1
Jul 8, 2020

My HK friends said things will even be better with this law.. Wihout constant rioting on the street, biz confidence will eventually flow back when people realize they only target those pro-independence troublemakers. Nobody likes those rioters I guess

    • 7
    • 1
Jul 9, 2020

As long as the business part stays intact the money will stay and like you said minimizing the riots might even improve the confidence in the city for some investors. It may sound unfair to some but to an extent this is like some venting over the US stock market gaining while the pandemic and racial tensions were running high.

Money is ruthless and just doesn't care as long as there are opportunities and that people have some degree of confidence in doing business there.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 9, 2020
Comment
  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Jul 18, 2020
Jul 20, 2020
Jul 24, 2020