MS HK vs. GS Beijing (IB SA)

  • My highest and probably only concern is the exit opps to megafunds or any US/EU PE better than Chinese local best PEs (like Hillhouse).

I saw the post in 2015 comparing the same 2 offers, basically two views, one for seeing China as a place with more potential (HK is structured), and another is HK is always better in terms of deal flow (especially M&A), culture (don't care about this), exit opps, and it's always much easier for HK transferring to BJ. Don't know if things have changed now.

Really appreciate any insights especially on exit opps (wherever the megafund office is, China or HK), that probably said caring about M&A deals if I'm right.

Kinda in a rush and thank you guys and this magical site.

Comments (25)

Nov 16, 2021 - 11:42pm

Assuming they're the same groups I would pick HK. From what I've seen teams sitting there can work deals all throughout APAC whereas a desk in Beijing might just be more China oriented. Not a bad thing since it's such a growing market but IMO seeing an HK office on a resume carry's more weight than someone from a Beijing office. I'd imagine that's where the MS APAC headquarters is?

Nov 17, 2021 - 12:02am

Yes it is. But I don't know whether this HK headquarter reputation thing still works for insiders I mean people in this industry, ib or pe. It feels like a fancy thing for people don't really know about this.

but if it's related to my exits to buyside, I will definitely consider that 

Nov 17, 2021 - 12:09am

HK is a better pathway to US/EU buy side shops for sure. I'm at one of the two firms you mentioned (based out of NY) and we see the team out of HK similarly to how we look at London. Plus I'd imagine you'll meet way more more expats out of HK. Beijing is just a tier 2 city for finance imo. Unless you're targeting Chinese buy side firms which is diff.

Nov 18, 2021 - 3:59am

I update my info cuz I just checked with the staff about teams selection, For MS I am not the best so I will not be taken into account for top team's return, whereas GS BJ is pool staffing with no fixed team. If it's possible that you could share more insights on this?

Nov 18, 2021 - 4:15am

Out of curiosity, is HK more different now that the Chinese govt pretty much took over? I remember HK being much more free-spirited and open than mainland China before 2020

Most Helpful
Nov 18, 2021 - 3:01pm

You should go where the capital markets are more advanced. Ideally NY first then HK. But since its BJ or HK, ideally HK. You will see more deal flow, yet its still really investment grade and IPOs. M&A in Asia is quite weak compared to US or even EUR. If you can, do a rotation in NY before moving to a China PE (FYI PE in China is not really PE) and then go to Asia/China.

China cap markets are changing and there is only really one playbook, and that is the US cap markets. So hence, experience in a good cap markets, will allow you to see pattern recognition or historical precedents.  IE. China has an ABS and MBS market developing. High yield had its starts and stops via trust market b/c in reality, there is truly a lack of people who know how to underwrite. There is a saying, math and science people are not good investors (outside of tech) or bankers, it usually liberal art majors. Food for thought. 

And network your tail off. In reality, HF/PE only hire people if they like them. 

Nov 18, 2021 - 4:18pm

Really really thankful for such an in-deep insight. A little stupid question, I know it's extremely hard to rotate to NY tho, MS HK still has more chances than GS BJ right?

I'm asking this cuz I knew some of the GS BJ people bragged about their rotation opps unlike other banks' china offices, they said they can rotate to NY and London which I highly doubt but cannot make sure.

Nov 19, 2021 - 6:40pm

PE is control, use of high yield and various debt structures typically. China PE is mostly minority growth investments with really no control. Yeah, you get a board seat but without the founder, you kind of maneuvering through an industry and locally without the captain that built the ship and that is hard in china. 

Nov 18, 2021 - 7:23pm

If your ultimate goal is US/European megafunds, HK will provide better opportunities. Furthermore, HK is the APAC HQ for all BB/EBs as it has the deepest/most sophisticated capital markets in Asia including a trusted rule of law for finance. That's why the overwhelming majority of the relevant players, from banks to funds, have established their Asia HQ in HK. Therefore aside from exit opps, being in HK positions you to make a name for yourself internally within the firm by working alongside the key decision makers/MDs. Also, being in BJ usually means you solely work on China deals, while HK gives you access to deals across Asia. 

Having said that,  BJ is underrated especially when it comes to (1) understanding market information, especially in the context of what are the most popular trends in China (2) networking with local companies

(1) The movers and shakers of deal flow in HK often comes from mainland companies, particularly in the TMT, consumer retail industries (healthcare too, but this is not relevant for this point). However in HK, society is still different where the most popular apps comes from the US (whatsapp, IG etc.) and you don't have as much interaction with mainland apps. Having direct knowledge from using these apps and acquiring a natural understanding of the latest trends simply by just living there always beats learning about them in research reports. This goes far for gaining intuition as an investor in these industries

(2) You travel alot around China even if based in HK, but being in close proximity to companies where you are either a train-ride or short flight away invariably gives you greater networking opps. These relationships are important for the buyside 

(3) Some international funds have offices in mainland so you will still have direct access to these exit opps    

Personal opinion - I think your question is similar to debating the merits between choosing NYC and SF (i.e HK vs BJ). It's a hard decision but most importantly a good situation to be in

Nov 30, 2021 - 1:27am

MS FIG is probably one of the best, if not the best in Asia. Industrials is good but wouldn't say it ranks as highly as FIG.

GS Beijing is arguably the best bank in mainland China across all industries

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 18, 2021 - 7:38pm

I'm working with MS HK on an IPO. People are in general nice, competent, and chill. There are sometimes typos in emails, but I honestly won't discount people solely because of that. 

Have not worked with GS BJ before. Would you mind sharing if you went through GS BJ's process via their HK HR, or do they have a Human Resources department in mainland? Thank you. 

Nov 19, 2021 - 4:10am

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 19, 2021 - 4:29am

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