Press Release: APAC Employment Monitor Q1 2014

April 29, 2014 8 mins read
Press Release: APAC Employment Monitor Q1 2014

Professional job opportunities across APAC region rise 37% year-on-year


  • Job vacancies rose by 37% between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014.
  • Job vacancies rose 67% from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014
  • Job vacancies rose by 18% between January 2014 and March 2014
  • The number of candidates actively seeking employment was up 56% from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014

Upturn in global economy driving jobs growth in APAC Financial services

Increasingly it seems that global, rather than local, factors appear to be the main drivers of the growth in employment in the Financial Services sector.  Ongoing and changing compliance and regulatory demands and standards are key to a number of these changes.  We saw positive developments in all our Asia Pacific markets in Q1 2014 as economic confidence and activity increased in North America and Europe, impacting operations here in APAC. The number of candidates actively seeking employment in the market, however, was almost identical between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014, which suggests the ‘war for talent’ may be gathering momentum again.

The Q1 2014 APAC Employment Monitor recorded a 37% increase in Financial Services jobs vacancies – up from 9,250 vacancies in Q1 2013 to 12,660 in Q1 2014.  Although this growth was initially led by Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, we also saw an upturn in the number of roles in Australia throughout the Quarter (as would be expected after the long holidays), whilst China did not move forward over the quarter.

Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Asia Pacific commented on the following markets which Morgan McKinley operates in:


“Australia is emerging from a difficult period for job seekers, with salaries largely flat and liquidity limited in the job market since candidates have often been reluctant to move, especially within Financial Services. In disciplines such as IT project management, we saw a shift towards contracting roles. The environment has also been challenging for hiring organisations. There is a lot of pressure to rotate people internally, which means that organisations miss out on the opportunity to benchmark against the whole market. Nevertheless, we saw clear signs of improvement going into 2014.

Many large businesses are heavily focused on diversity in shortlists, for example in maintaining an equal split between male and female employee numbers. There is, however, a shortage of female talent which will be a challenge for hiring organisations if this is on their agenda. Morgan McKinley has been addressing this challenge by ensuring that there is always at least one female candidate on its shortlists, and promoting internal development programmes for female employees in client companies. Morgan McKinley Australia increased female placements by 45% in 2012 and 56% in 2013, compared with a base level set in 2011, in roles in the $150k-plus salary bracket in sectors including finance, technology and risk.


“Important factors driving growth in recruitment in China have been compliance and regulatory demands, globalisation of functions and organisational change. We have seen an increase in maturity in the Chinese recruitment market also.  It is not always, as it once was, the most cost-effective location for foreign companies to base large numbers of staff: hence the trend towards outsourcing some corporate functions to offshore locations.

More and more, Chinese organisations are localising their finance teams and have started identifying successors for their current (often foreign) CFO level staff.  Candidates will need to be able to demonstrate a good cultural fit, as well as relevant experience.

There is also currently a strong drive to regulate the eCommerce sector, so we see an increased demand for professionals with experience in dealing with regulators. IT and organisational changes within Multi-national and Mid-sized businesses are also fuelling growth in areas such as digital marketing and eCommerce, data management and operational IT projects. Most employees are expecting 2014 to be a much better year for their companies, and in terms of their own remuneration.

Hong Kong

“In Hong Kong we have seen a significant uplift in hiring activity across the financial services sector from Investment Banking, Insurance and Asset Management.

Professionals are becoming more active in looking for new posts, yet demand for top quality talent exceeds supply in particular in the mid-senior level role. Whilst there remains offshoring of Finance and Operations functions we have see replacement hires in these spaces and demand for Technology professionals remains high.

We have seen a particularly high demand for senior compliance and risk professionals. With a limited number of experienced compliance professionals (with almost every organisation recruiting for multiple roles) invariably this will put pressure on the market, with many of these ‘hot spots’ at the senior end of the market. This means that when the seasonal ‘post-bonus’ moves begin to occur, the price pressure will have a significant effect on a firm’s cost base.


“Japan has an ageing population and the lack of local, well-qualified younger candidates has been a key factor in the recruitment market in recent months.  This may continue to be a challenge for hiring organisations in 2014.   A lot of functions have been outsourced to other countries, particularly India and the Philippines, which has made it more challenging for younger job seekers to build up their experience.

Nevertheless things are moving in a positive direction. With the buoyant Nikkei indices continuing into Q1 there has been demand for professionals in Equity, particularly sales, sales traders and research. Compliance, internal control and regulatory issues have compelled Financial Services companies to recruit for replacement headcount.

We expect the recruitment market to improve significantly in this space, with more candidates coming forward and Financial Services companies needing to meet regulatory challenges such as Basel III. Candidates who have an advanced qualification in accounting such as IFRS will be well placed to step up a level. We advise them to keep abreast of regulatory changes, gain project experience and to develop their regional and national networks. Knowledge of software suites such as Sun Systems, Oracle, SAP and Istar will also be an asset for more technical senior roles.

Hiring organisations may find it difficult to identify candidates who tick all the boxes.

Salary increases across the region have started to reflect the positive trend in demand for Financial Services professionals. However, we have seen less movement on bonuses, and our research in Japan indicates that candidates place a much higher value on the basic salary over total remuneration package.

Our recent Bonus Satisfaction Survey revealed that while 42% of Financial Services professionals in Japan are dissatisfied with their current bonus, only 2% cited bonus payments as the main reason for seeking a new job. You can read the report in detail here.


“Singapore’s Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) has led to a growing number of local candidates being employed in the Financial Services sector – especially in senior roles. Continued economic buoyancy is likely to lead to a more intense talent war as we progress through 2014.

Two welcome recent developments in Singapore have been a significant increase in the number of vacancies posted in the Financial Services sector and an acceleration in the hiring process. The sense of urgency was undoubtedly driven to a large extent by upcoming compliance and regulatory demands at a time of continued economic uncertainty.

We have seen many new IT projects in the pipeline. A key growth area is SAP implementation projects, customising the software to suit specific business functions. Similar in-house software projects are favoured in organisations that cannot afford the costs of SAP and other standard ERP systems. Other growth areas include IT security and data management. As we have seen elsewhere in the APAC region, Compliance is likely to figure as a key growth area in 2014 as is anything to do with Projects & Change Management, particularly on an interim basis as the contract market continues to grow across the whole Financial Services sector.

From the employers’ perspective, whilst there is strong talent now available in the South East Asia region, the pressure on multinationals to remain productive (and cost-efficient) means they must carefully manage expectations on remuneration in order to secure new talent, giving due consideration to long-term retention.”

Further press information:

Emma Nguyen                                                                                                                 

Tel:  +61 458 164 120                                                         


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Morgan McKinley APAC Employment Monitor

Morgan McKinley launched its APAC Employment Monitor providing monthly and quarterly data on new professional job availability and on professional job seeker availability. The figures in this press release are derived from Morgan McKinley’s own internal data from jobs released by employers and professionals registering in conjunction with market share figures and knowledge of the market.

The APAC Employment Monitor reports only on professional jobs across sectors where Morgan McKinley operates in the region including banking and financial services, accounting & finance, IT, project management, risk & compliance, sales & marketing, healthcare and technical & engineering. 

About Morgan McKinley

Morgan McKinley is a global professional services recruiter connecting specialist talent with leading employers across multiple industries and disciplines. With offices across Ireland, the UK, EMEA, Asia and Australia, Morgan McKinley is a preferred supplier to many of the major employers in its specialist sectors and thousands of smaller local firms.

Morgan McKinley APAC provides specialist recruitment services across the APAC region, including Australia, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, working with clients and candidates to deliver local knowledge as well as global reach.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China