Top Names in Hong Kong and Singapore

Hi,

I'm curious to hear from anyone who's currently working in Asia or have had some experience in Asia as to some of the top 2nd-tier names in both Hong Kong and Singapore. We all know the US bulge brackets so I'm thinking more along the lines of HSBC, Standard Chartered, RBS, Macqarie etc. Does anyone have any info on any of these names?

Also, what are some of the exit opportunities after banking in Asia? People don't jerk off to the buyside that much back there do they?

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Comments (15)

Apr 7, 2011 - 6:23pm

Rothschild- saw them at #10 on the Asia M&A table a while back. CICC does well there too from what I understand. Standard Chartered has a big tall tower in HK, if that's any indication of quality.

Keep in mind, if you're looking for internships, you should probably stay away from CICC (or CITIC for that matter). The Chinese banks have poor training programs in general and don't treat interns too well.

Apr 7, 2011 - 6:25pm

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Pretty sure Canadian Big 5 have a strong Asian presence too (RBC, TD, CIBC, Scotia, BMO)

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Apr 7, 2011 - 11:31pm

In HK the strong second-tier players are definitely HSBC (very strong debt underwriting and IPO activity), Standard Chartered (they have been expanding like crazy but some employees have complained about poor bonus), CLSA (strong research and ECM) and Jefferies/Piper Jaffray. Macquarie and Nomura round out the list.

Some of the more niche brands like Lazard and Houlihan Lokey are in the region as well but the hiring volume is low there.

Apr 8, 2011 - 12:46am

This is very helpful. Thanks for the insights everyone.

I noticed though, that most analysts become direct promotes to associates, as opposed to leaving for the buyside. Is this because private equity shops aren't that established in the region (compared to the US), and hence not that highly sought after?

Also, do you think US business schools would look favorably upon such overseas experience, even if you just become a direct promote to associate?

Apr 8, 2011 - 2:48am

There's just in general less emphasis on buyside in HK because as you said the industry isn't as prevalent. The issue is that in the US, you have a handful of MEGAFUND (which also exist in HK/Singapore/China) BUT the vast majority of PE exits for IBD analysts in the US are Middle Market PE firms (and also mom and pop shops).

Therefore, in Hong Kong, analysts either go into well-established megafunds or stay in banking. However, the caveat is there is increasingly middle-market domestic players in CHina (that are doing well), so expect the industry to grow substantially over the next couple of years.

The other issue is compensation. HK banking compensation is higher than counterparts in NY, add in the housing stipend and the lower taxes and it can be materially higher. Therefore, its harder for PE firms to match that comp to the degree where its attractive for the candidate to leave IBD. Most middle-market PE firms in the US pay cash compensation that is actually equal to or lower than BB-associate compensation.

As for whether international experience will help for B-school admissions. There's no clear cut answer for that. It's on a case by case basis, and most importantly, how you incorporate the experience into your overall application. If you can't create a consistent and convincing narrative, if doesn't matter if you worked on Mars. With that said however, there is no denying that top US MBA programs are increasingly looking to "diversify" - including increasing emphasis on international experience (so yes, in general, international experience is a +)

Apr 12, 2011 - 12:10am
ibhopeful532:
There's just in general less emphasis on buyside in HK because as you said the industry isn't as prevalent. The issue is that in the US, you have a handful of MEGAFUND (which also exist in HK/Singapore/China) BUT the vast majority of PE exits for IBD analysts in the US are Middle Market PE firms (and also mom and pop shops).

Therefore, in Hong Kong, analysts either go into well-established megafunds or stay in banking. However, the caveat is there is increasingly middle-market domestic players in CHina (that are doing well), so expect the industry to grow substantially over the next couple of years.

The other issue is compensation. HK banking compensation is higher than counterparts in NY, add in the housing stipend and the lower taxes and it can be materially higher. Therefore, its harder for PE firms to match that comp to the degree where its attractive for the candidate to leave IBD. Most middle-market PE firms in the US pay cash compensation that is actually equal to or lower than BB-associate compensation.

As for whether international experience will help for B-school admissions. There's no clear cut answer for that. It's on a case by case basis, and most importantly, how you incorporate the experience into your overall application. If you can't create a consistent and convincing narrative, if doesn't matter if you worked on Mars. With that said however, there is no denying that top US MBA programs are increasingly looking to "diversify" - including increasing emphasis on international experience (so yes, in general, international experience is a +)

Awesome response! Really appreciate the time you took in typing this up.

Apr 12, 2011 - 3:36pm

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