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Market Trends & Salary Information

Private Banking

The industry continues to see further consolidation as increasing competition and the nagging concerns of high cost income ratios exert pressure on the weaker players. As Coutts & Co restructures its management team following the sale of its international business to Union Bancaire Privée, Barclays Plc is sounding out potential buyers for its Asian wealth-management business as Chairman John McFarlane refocuses Britain’s second-largest lender on the most profitable businesses in the U.S. and U.K.  To survive this consolidation phase, private banks are strengthening their brands and positioning themselves as choice employers to attract talents.

Hiring continues to center around experienced private bankers in all markets covering the Asia region. Investment counselors or advisors are also highly sought after for their ability to hand hold clients and deepen their banking relationships.  

Regulatory demands continue to grow and evolve, and the need for experienced compliance and risk professionals will form the underlying demand for talent in these areas.

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Corporate Banking

The corporate banking industry charts its growth path in Asia as more and more local businesses grow in stature and requiring ever more sophisticated products and solutions facilitating global commerce. 

Those banks which are traditionally not top players in this sector, are busy building up their capabilities as they respond to a flood of new businesses. Technology becomes a differentiating tool to compete credibly and there is hence, a strong demand for technologists and people with good program/ project management skills.

The threats of a slowdown in China and other emerging economies loom but the general mood is one of cautious optimism.

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Investment Banking

The investment banking sector is a traditional magnet for the best and the brightest among the graduating cohorts but as demand slows, the selection criteria have become even more stringent. Long working days are the norm and increasingly, the need to report to work during weekends. Having the tenacity and stamina on the job are keys to career success.

An emerging trend is an increasing level of cooperation between investment banking and wealth management.  In an effort to tap ultra-high-net-worth individuals with an appetite for investment banking services, several investment banks are ramping up their product solutions to bridge the two divisions.  Be prepared for hybrid investment bankers with the ability to conduct business with wealthy individuals, as well as private bankers with a flair for structuring investment banking deals for their top clients. 

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Asset Management

After a relatively subdued start to the year, global markets in 2015 saw a number of spikes in volatility across asset classes. This was particularly salient in emerging markets, as a consequence of which many saw their currency fall substantially against the US dollar. The environment was also marked by continued commodity oversupply and anaemic demand, weighing on prices and impacting net commodity exporters. Finally, in a context of ultra-low rates defined by fears of deflation and disinflation, bond markets have posted low to mid-single-digit returns in most segments, with limited price upside. These conditions are maintaining a “fragile equilibrium” of low growth and low inflation, which is important for investors because it is impacting valuations.

A real challenge today is that many asset classes look expensive, as a reflection of low interest rates. The crucial question is thus to know if, given this low growth and low inflation environment, risk assets are attractively priced. The sentiment remain cautious, and weak global growth and negative real interest rates brought on by weaker growth in China and other emerging markets, are likely to continue causing spikes in volatility in 2016.

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The global economy is expected to strengthen moderately in 2016, supporting insurance premium growth in most regions. Demand for non-life insurance is expected to grow, led by an 8% to 9% annual gain in the emerging markets in 2016 and 2017. The life insurance sector faces challenges, in particular from ongoing low interest rates. Nevertheless, global life premiums are forecast to rise by about 4% in each of the next two years, led also by the emerging markets.

The US and the UK economies are currently growing by close to 2.5%, and real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Japan and the Euro area are a more subdued 0.7% and 1.5%, respectively. The four economies are all expected to see slightly better growth in 2016. Emerging markets will grow by about 5% in each of the next two years, an improvement on the current 4% pace.

Primary life insurers face significant downside risks in the short to medium term from the modest global growth outlook, persistently low interest rates, volatility in financial markets and regulatory changes. Nevertheless, in the advanced markets, real premium income is forecast to rise by about 2.5% in 2016 and 2017, up from about 2% this year. In emerging markets, premiums will grow by an estimated 10.7% in both 2016 and 2017. This improvement will in part be attributable to improved use of currently available technologies, such as wearable devices and cloud computing. Again, emerging Asia is expected to have the most robust growth of about 13% each year. A key issue in many emerging markets will be the implementation of risk-based solvency regimes.

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