Standard Chartered, Barclays and Deutsche Bank are cutting jobs in Hong Kong and Singapore right now.
All this trimming might make them seem like unstable, undesirable employers in the minds of Asian graduates and junior bankers. After all, why work for a bank that's cutting staff when plenty of banks are still hiring rather than firing in Asia?
However, you'd be wrong to think that Stan Chart, Barclays and Deutsche are just about cutting. All have Asian vacancies now, and Standard Chartered has over 150 in Singapore alone. More significantly, there’s been no big drop-off in interest from junior candidates in these roles, say up-coming graduates and banking recruiters in Asia.
“For the majority of young finance professionals in Singapore the prestige of the bank they work for still seems to take precedence over the stability of the bank,” says Adam Solomons, an associate director at recruiters Hydrogen in Singapore. “Having a European bank on their CV is considered worth the risk of potentially losing their job a year later.”
Gary Lai, managing director for Southeast Asia at recruiters Charterhouse Partnership, agrees: “Branding is important to a young Asian banker and although these European banks have cut headcount, young people are still are very open to considering them. It’s often only as bankers get more senior that job security and stability become of greater value.”
A final-year Hong Kong-based finance student and 2015 HSBC intern says this year’s cohort of Asian graduates generally don’t think Standard Chartered, Barclays and Deutsche Bank are “tarnished bands”. “The recent job cuts weren’t a surprise because these banks aren’t strong in cash equities, but they are still respectable brands in other areas, like fixed income.”
Graduates also say they can’t afford to be fussy about where they end up working – turning down job at Stan Chart is more likely to leave you unemployed than it is to land you a role at Goldman Sachs. “The market is tough – most candidates would be willing to take jobs at any of these three firms,” says the Hong Kong student.
A 2015 Standard Chartered intern in Singapore says the bank is still converting a high percentage of its interns into permanent employees this year. “Young people aren’t put off joining SC. Job openings are still scarce across the market, the demand-supply dynamics have not changed.”
Only a “small proportion” of juniors will be dissuaded from applying to Standard Chartered, Barclays and Deutsche Bank this year, adds Farida Charania, Asia Pacific CEO of search firm Nastrac Group. “These firms still pay well and will continue to attract young talent. There isn’t much left if they don't consider all large banks.”
It also helps that many of the recent job cuts have been at a senior level – and some younger employees have been promoted as a result. “At the more experienced level there may be some more challenges, but I don’t think these banks will find filling junior vacancies any more difficult because of the recent announcements,” says Aaron Bolton, a manager at recruitment company Black Swan Group in Singapore. “In some areas the restructuring could actually provide unique opportunities for junior staff to gain exposure to areas that wouldn’t be available to people at their level at other firms.”
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