Press Release: APAC Employment Monitor | Q4 2014

February 9, 2015 7 mins read
Press Release: APAC Employment Monitor | Q4 2014

Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific Employment Monitor: Hiring activity grows by 51% year-on-year, whilst numbers of jobs and professionals seeking new roles decreases from Q3 - due to seasonal factors

APAC Employment Monitor Q4 2014 Highlights:

  • Job vacancies rose by 51% year-on-year in Q4 2014 compared to Q4, 2013
  • Professionals seeking new roles rose by 16% year-on year in Q4 2014 compared to Q4, 2013
  • Job vacancies were down 25% against Q3, 2014
  • Professionals seeking new roles were down 19% against Q3, 2014

While seasonal factors translated into lower hiring activity in Q4 2014 compared to the previous quarter, with 11,427 jobs registered by the Asia Pacific Employment Monitor, that figure was substantially greater than Q4 2013 (7,560 jobs) – an encouraging 51% increase year-on-year. The number of professionals seeking new opportunities was down 19% quarter-on-quarter (25,589 from 31,581) as seasonal factors saw professionals delay moving roles and hiring managers postponed adding headcount until the New Year, often a time when new headcount budgets are released. Professionals seeking new opportunities were up 16% year-on-year (25,589 from 22,137) showing continued confidence in the market when compared to 2013.

Richie Holliday, Chief Operating Officer, Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific said, "In general hiring activity continues to reflect economic growth and prosperity, even if - in a number of Asia Pacific countries - the actual rate of growth has slowed somewhat. Lower commodity prices and the strengthening of the US dollar has especially affected Australia as the US economy surges forward. A number of larger organisations have struggled, and some have announced high profile exit plans in certain regions. Additionally, the pace of recovery has been too slow for a number of companies, who have sold assets or down-sized their APAC regional presence. Despite these issues in a number of APAC geographies, however, it does seem that the overall sentiment, remains relatively positive and cautiously optimistic.

"China's GDP growth, up 7.3% in Q4 2014 against 2013, while still decelerating, was marginally better than analysts had forecast, and with oil prices at historic lows we expect a boost to consumer demand to spread into most geographies in H1 2015."

"The general slow improvement in the hiring environment is set to continue in 2015, as more international and, increasingly often, more local clients expand into the region. A number of detailed surveys such as Global Talent 2021 from Oxford Economics forecast a global recalibration of talent, with growth in emerging Asia for financial services professionals estimated at 21% over the next five years."

Some of the established financial centres are seeing some growth, perhaps at the expense of markets such as India, Brazil and Russia: the popular ‘go-to’ growth targets of the last 5-10 years. Those less mature economies face a risk of capital flight as the Federal Reserve starts to raise interest rates. By contrast, good governance, political stability, and a mature pipeline of major infrastructure projects stand the established markets in good stead. This is often reflected in the growth of new revenue streams or business lines within the front offices of global investment and private banks, while domestic banks are also growing their corporate businesses.

With this year's Chinese New Year falling three weeks later than in 2014, "we expect a busier January as hiring managers move to complete recruitment ahead of the two-week break" said Holliday.


The combining forces of low commodity prices and the ever-strengthening US dollar have resulted in the Australian dollar hitting a five-year low.

Ricky Liu, a Forex trader quoted in The Australian at the start of the new year, went so far as to suggest "Australia is slowly going toward a recession."

Anglo American's expected sale of Australian coal mines is a signal of reduced confidence in commodity price improvement in the near or medium term.

"For all the negative news," says Holliday, "We see continuing demand for strategy, change and transformation roles and risk professionals continue to be highly sought after particularly in the contract market."


Singapore celebrates 50 years' of independence in 2015 and the government's SG50 Fund is expected to support a number of substantial infrastructure projects as part of the country's celebrations as well as raising the profile of the territory in global consciousness. Increased travel, media attention and heightened confidence are all expected to lead to a continuing growth story in the market.

"We see continuing demand in private equity fund administration, change roles, risk and compliance specialists," says Holliday. "The territory is popular with global nomads who, in moving to Singapore, can expect westernised standards of living, with all the benefits of Asia at your doorstep."


For all the country's much-vaunted challenges, recent surveys such as the Cabinet Office's Economy Watchers Survey indicate "a strong rebound" of optimism among the 2,000 respondents that may herald happier times ahead for Japan.

“Off-shoring continues to beset the hiring market although there remains high demand for IT development and testing professionals in the banking and financial services sector” reports Holliday.

Mainland China GDP growth slowed, as predicted but came in marginally better than analysts feared at 7.3% year-on-year for Q4. Even with future growth predicted to slow to about 6.5% in the next few years, China remains a dominant force in the Asia Pacific economy as its population rises into the middle class and it continues to mature as a global power.

Banking is a particular focus for growth. "It's estimated that China's banking sector will overtake the US by 2023," forecasts PwC in its Talent Mobility report.

Morgan McKinley's own research shows the impact of an internet banking boom in the territory. Risk and compliance professionals continue to be in high demand and the demand for new headcount is driving salary inflation.

Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protests have done little to dampen Hong Kong's attractiveness for inward investment even with declines in the Hang Seng index. Investors put $200m into exchange-traded funds in the quarter and over 360 new companies entered the Hong Kong market in 2014, with that number forecast to grow in 2015.

C Y Leung's Policy Address in January 2015 highlighted a number of initiatives from the suspension of the capital investment entrant scheme to investment in the Hong Kong film industry and new measures to attract talent from outside Hong Kong. Whether these will be enough to satisfy pro-democracy protesters who want free, democratic elections for the territory, remains to be seen.

Hiring within the financial services sector still remains focused, driven by regulatory rather than business requirements with a broad range of compliance professionals being in demand. The Wealth Management sector also remains buoyant with private banks are developing more sophisticated platforms to cope with the demands of their ever more complex clients wealth management needs.


While the APAC region is heterogeneous and a number of headwinds continue to challenge economic growth, overall there continues to be "growing demand for talent," says Holliday. "A global dearth of specialists in risk and compliance makes the professional with these skills a sought-after commodity who can demand increasing levels of compensation, driving salary inflation. We are confident of steady, albeit cautious, on-going growth in the APAC region, driven largely by the core City hubs, whilst Australia's slightly slower rate of growth may dampen demand."


Further press information:

Alice Zhou

Tel: +86 21 5108 1202

Aimee Carmichael Tel: 0044 7740 354625

Alternatively, please contact the Press Office at

Morgan McKinley APAC Employment Monitor

Morgan McKinley’s APAC Employment Monitor provides quarterly data on new professional job availability and the number of professionals seeking new roles in the Financial Services sector. The figures in this report are derived from Morgan McKinley’s own internal data from jobs released by employers and professionals registering for new roles in conjunction with market share figures and knowledge of the market.

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, the company’s professional recruitment expertise spans banking & financial services; commerce & industry and professional services. 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, Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, working with clients and candidates to deliver local knowledge as well as global reach.

Morgan McKinley recently won Banking and Financial Services company of the year at the Recruitment International Hong Kong and Japan awards 2014. Morgan McKinley also won the Recruitment International award in Australia for the best Candidate Care programme in 2014. In addition, Morgan McKinley won the award for Best Recruitment Consultancy in Asia Pacific for In-house Training and was also highly commended for having the Best Marketing Campaign in Asia Pacific at the Global Recruiter APAC awards 2014.

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