Hong Kong’s financial services gradually leveraging blockchain 

Hong Kong’s financial services sector will need to adapt to rapid change in order to remain globally competitive.

  • 23% of Hong Kong CFOs within financial services say their organisation has specific investment plans for blockchain implementation. 
  • 80% believe blockchain implementation will have a genuine impact on the financial services industry over the next five years.
  • Top skills in demand to manage blockchain: trading (40%), trading technology (36%), analytics (35%) and database management (34%). 

With blockchain technology set to do to the financial system what the internet did to the media , Hong Kong’s financial services sector will need to adapt to rapid change in order to remain globally competitive. Blockchain, which is a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records called blocks, is now part of specific investment plans for 23% of Hong Kong CFOs within the financial services industry, according to new independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half. More than half (52%) are planning to invest in blockchain in the future and 20% admit they should be considering investment despite having no plans for it at the moment.

The overall majority of financial services CFOs (80%) believe blockchain implementation will have an impact on the financial services sector over the next five years – with the positive impacts already being realised in Hong Kong. The survey reveals that 52% of CFOs who have implemented blockchain within their business say it has led to faster transactions and empowered users, while 35% say it has resulted in lower transaction costs and 30% respectively say it has increased transparency and decentralised services. 

Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said: “Operating within a global trading hub and advantageous geographical region, Hong Kong’s financial services sector needs to adapt to new technological developments as quickly as our regional competitors in order to remain globally competitive. Part of this technological adoption includes the implementation of blockchain technology within the sector, as its decentralised, open architecture connecting consumers and suppliers is set to become a more widely used method for financial transactions in the future.” 

“Blockchain could potentially encourage Hong Kong’s financial services sector to become much more diverse in its service delivery, helping many financial services companies gain a competitive edge in the market. However, the sector’s ability to fully leverage the benefits of new technology depends on companies’ success in engaging a workforce with the right skills.”

As blockchain gradually becomes more mainstream, so too is the demand for people with the right skills to fully leverage the new technology’s benefits. Hong Kong’s financial services leaders are seeking professionals skilled in trading (40%), trading technology (36%), analytics (35%) and database management (34%).

Closing the skills gap is crucial to prepare for the rise technology, including blockchain – and therein lies the challenge for Hong Kong’s financial services sector. While 64% of Hong Kong CFOs say a skills shortage is the primary reason why it is challenging to find skilled financial services professionals today, more than half (52%) say the general demand for qualified experts outweighs the current supply. 

“New technologies require new skills to manage them. Already having to contend with a skills shortage, blockchain implementation is leading companies to become more competitive in their recruitment of professionals with the right skills. In order to stay ahead of the game with the latest technologies, companies will need to boost their staff acquisition strategy to source, attract and retain top financial services professionals,” concluded Adam Johnston.     

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About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in January 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 100 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Finance Directors in financial services in Hong Kong. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.
 

  • 99% of Hong Kong CFOs have hired an employee that did not meet expectations, primarily because of underqualified candidates (48%), a mismatch of skills (39%) and candidates found to be lying on their CVs (28%).
  • 41% had to let the employee at hand go, while 33% respectively re-started the recruitment process and partnered with a staffing agency to secure a replacement.
  • Employers cite increased workload for colleagues (53%), increased stress on colleagues and managers (39%), and higher recruitment costs (33%) as the biggest consequences of a bad hire.

New independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half shows the majority (99%) of Hong Kong CFOs have hired an employee that did not meet expectations, and more than one in three (37%) took just two weeks to discover that they have hired the wrong person.

According to the study of 150 CFOs, 37% typically realise within a fortnight that a new hire is not meeting expectations. The most common reasons given were underqualified candidates (48%), a mismatch of skills (39%) and candidates found to be lying on their CVs (28%).

What to do with a bad hire?

When asked what steps they took to address the poor hiring decision(s), 41% of CFOs say they terminated the employee contract, whilst 33% respectively re-started the recruitment process from scratch and partnered with a staffing agency to secure a replacement. Close to one-third (31%) of finance employers decided to deal with the matter internally by looking for an internal vacancy the candidate would be better suited for and 30% developed a training program to develop the employee’s skills to the desired level. Still less than one in four (23%) adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach to see if the employee’s performance would improve.

The cost of a bad hire

Hiring the wrong person for the job can significantly impact the organisation. The top three consequences of a bad hire according to finance employers are increased workload for colleagues (53%), increased stress on colleagues and managers (39%) and higher recruitment costs (33%). Other cited negative consequences include increased workloads for managers (27%), lost productivity (26%) and low staff morale (23%).

Bad hires can be highly costly for companies, though many Hong Kong companies struggle with accurately calculating the cost of hiring the wrong person. While 11% say they don’t track these costs, almost half (47%) fail to compile all the data in a single overview. Almost three in 10 (29%) say some costs are not accurately measurable and 9% admit they have not looked at doing it. Merely 3% say they do not find it challenging.

Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said: “Businesses go to great lengths to find the right candidate, but the cost of not hiring an adequate employee can be significant. Whether organisations decide to terminate their employment or invest in additional training, it will impact the company financially and can cause significant disruption and stress to the existing workforce, indicating the importance of getting it right.”

“While some factors, such as cultural fit, attitude, or even the credibility of candidates’ qualification or experience, can be challenging to account for in an interview; an experienced interviewer and a rigorous hiring process can prevent a wrong hire to take place, such as by asking the right questions, thoroughly testing skills and meticulous reference checking. Employers would benefit from reviewing their hiring policies to ensure they strike the right balance between efficiency and rigour,” concluded Adam Johnston.

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About the research

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in December 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 150 CFOs in Hong Kong. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace. >

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