Caution is the Name of the Game in Hong Kong

20 January 2016

But hiring outlook for financial services employees hits a four-year high

There will still be plenty of hiring action in Hong Kong in the first half of 2016, though not at the record levels seen at the start of last year.

According to the latest Hong Kong hiring outlook released by recruitment firm Robert Half, 43 per cent of non-financial services companies plan to hire more permanent finance and accounting personnel - a decline from 53 per cent at the same time in 2015.

The hiring outlook for technology professionals has also weakened slightly, with 37 per cent of companies intending to recruit in the first half of 2016, compared with 40 per cent in 2015.

Bucking the trend is the banking and financial services sector, where 57 per cent of companies intend to increase their headcount, taking their hiring activity to a new four-year high. 

The survey was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on responses from 275 senior business leaders including Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), senior Financial Services leaders and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) who were asked about their hiring intentions for the first two quarters of 2016.   The data covers hiring trends in three sectors:

Table 1: Hong Kong hiring outlook for the first half of 2016

Commerce & Industry

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

First Half of 2016

Expanding headcount

48%

48%

53%

43%

Maintaining headcount

37%

43%

37%

46%

Freezing headcount

13%

9%

9%

10%

Reducing headcount

2%

0%

1%

1%

 

Technology

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

First Half of 2016

Expanding headcount

32%

26%

40%

37%

Maintaining headcount

34%

61%

41%

56%

Freezing headcount

24%

13%

17%

7%

Reducing headcount

10%

1%

2%

0%

 

Banking & Financial Services

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

First Half of 2016

Expanding headcount

36%

46%

46%

57%

Maintaining headcount

46%

47%

45%

30%

Freezing headcount

15%

5%

9%

10%

Reducing headcount

3%

1%

1%

3%

Click here to see all the information in our 2016 hiring outlook infographic.

Mr Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong and Japan said the tepid hiring outlook reflects a growing concern about a global slowdown in 2016.

“Hong Kong companies will be active hirers in 2016, but there is a growing sense of caution in their thinking. So whether they act on their plans to drive business growth and hire will depend on their level of confidence in the next few months.”

“Good quality candidates will still be highly sought after, in any economic condition.  Companies are smart enough to know if a good professional is available it is better to sign them up than lose them to a competitor.”

“Banking and financial services companies have the most ambitious hiring plans for 2016  as they seek to win market share by entering more markets with new products and service expansion initiatives.  However, if the global economy changes, many of these planned activities may be put on hold,” Mr Johnston said.

HIRING OUTLOOK DEPENDS ON COMPANY SIZE

Robert Half’s research also shows companies of different sizes have different hiring intentions to start the year.

In the Commerce and Industry sector, large firms with more than 1000+ employees will be the most active recruiters, with 55 per cent adding to their headcount.  The most common reason for making new hires is to support new projects and initiatives (49 per cent), followed by product or service expansion (47 per cent) and new market penetration (41 per cent).

Mid-sized firms with between 500 and 999 employees will be the most active hirers of technology and IT professionals.  The new hires are to drive domestic business growth (63 per cent), international business growth (56 per cent) and product and service expansion (47 per cent).

Mid-size firms will also dominate hiring in the banking and financial services sector with 64 per cent planning to hire in the first half of 2016.  The additional employees will be tasked with product or service expansion (54 per cent), new projects and initiatives (52 per cent) or penetrating new markets (45 per cent).

Table 2: Hong Kong Hiring Outlook for the first half of 2016 – by company size

FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING

Total

Small
(1-499 employees)

Medium
(500-999 employees)

Large
(1000+ employees)

Expanding - Adding new positions

43%

35%

39%

55%

Maintaining - Only filling vacated positions

46%

47%

48%

42%

Freezing - Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones

10%

18%

12%

0%

Reducing - Eliminating positions

1%

0%

0%

3%

 

TECHNOLOGY AND IT

Total

Small
(1-499 employees)

Medium
(500-999 employees)

Large
(1000+ employees)

Expanding - Adding new positions

37%

26%

56%

38%

Maintaining - Only filling vacated positions

56%

65%

44%

54%

Freezing - Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones

7%

10%

0%

8%

Reducing - Eliminating positions

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

BANKING AND FINANCE

Total

Small
(1-499 employees)

Medium
(500-999 employees)

Large
(1000+ employees)

Expanding - Adding new positions

57%

62%

64%

45%

Maintaining - Only filling vacated positions

30%

26%

24%

39%

Freezing - Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones

10%

12%

9%

9%

Reducing - Eliminating positions

3%

0%

3%

6%

 

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MEDIA CONTACT

Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
E: [email protected]

 

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