Three-year high hiring activity for finance and technology professionals bodes well for Hong Kong in 2015

16 February 2015

Demand for finance and accounting professionals is at a three-year high with 53 per cent of companies planning to expand their teams in the first half of 2015.

Technology hiring is also on an upward trend with four in ten companies planning to add new permanent positions.

According to the latest Hong Kong Employment Report released by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half, companies are planning a raft of new project and initiatives that will require additional staff to manage and implement.

The survey polled 400 senior business leaders including Chief Financial Officers, Finance Directors, and Chief Technology Officers on their outlook and hiring intentions for the first two quarters of 2015. The data covers hiring trends in three sectors:

  • Banking and financial services, including insurance
  • Commerce and Industry – accounting and finance professionals in a range of industries
  • Technology

Table 1: Hiring forecast for Hong Kong for the first half of 2015

Commerce & Industry

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

48%

48%

53%

Maintaining headcount

37%

43%

37%

Freezing headcount

13%

9%

9%

Reducing headcount

2%

0%

1%

 

Technology

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

32%

26%

40%

Maintaining headcount

34%

61%

41%

Freezing headcount

24%

13%

17%

Reducing headcount

10%

1%

2%

 

Banking & Financial Services  

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

36%

46%

46%

Maintaining headcount

46%

47%

45%

Freezing headcount

15%

5%

9%

Reducing headcount

3%

1%

1%

 

The highest level of demand is for accounting and finance experts in Commerce and Industry, which covers a range of different industries. The survey found 53 per cent of companies will add permanent finance and accounting staff in the first half of the year, compared to 48 per cent last year. Business and financial analysts are in strong demand, as are financial controllers.

The biggest turnaround in activity is among companies hiring technology professionals. Last year only 26 per cent of companies were hiring while 61 per cent maintained headcount. This year, a nearly equal proportion of companies are maintaining (41 per cent) and adding more manpower (40 per cent) to their technology teams.

In the Financial Services sector, employment activity has remained steady compared to 12 months ago. The survey found 46 per cent of companies plan to add staff in the first 6 months of 2015 – the same percentage as a year ago. However, there is an increase in the percentage of companies that have frozen all hires – from 5 per cent in 2014 to 9 per cent in 2015.

Ms Pallavi Anand, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said companies are actively hiring to fill newly created positions as part of their growth strategies.

“Companies know they need to adapt and change in order to achieve growth. That’s why they are expanding their accounting and technology teams. There are many new opportunities in the employment market for people willing to come in and prove themselves in a new role.”

“Companies are also looking at expanding into new markets. This could be either a new geographical location or to target a different segment of an existing market.”

“Previously new hires were in response to a need to have extra capacity to cope with increased workloads. This year companies are pursuing growth by expanding their service offerings or their reach.”

“New roles can be very challenging as there is no precedents or guidelines for the successful applicant to follow. But if they are prepared to show initiative, they can carve out a name for themselves in the new role,” Ms Anand said.

Table 2: Reasons for increasing headcount

TECHNOLOGY

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New projects / initiatives

51%

64%

29%

82%

Product or service expansion

49%

55%

52%

36%

Business growth or expansion (international)

42%

45%

48%

27%

New market penetration

33%

18%

48%

18%

Systems upgrades

28%

27%

33%

18%

Moving to cloud based infrastructure

26%

18%

14%

55%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

21%

27%

24%

9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BANKING AND FINANCE SECTOR

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New projects / initiatives

61%

59%

67%

58%

New market penetration

57%

52%

43%

77%

Product or service expansion

53%

70%

50%

38%

Business growth or expansion (international)

37%

37%

37%

38%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

23%

19%

20%

31%

Financial systems upgrades

14%

4%

17%

23%

Merger or acquisition

5%

4%

3%

8%

 

 

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New market penetration

60%

55%

68%

57%

New projects / initiatives

51%

64%

36%

57%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

50%

55%

39%

57%

Business growth or expansion (international)

46%

32%

57%

47%

Product or service expansion

43%

36%

57%

33%

Financial systems upgrades

19%

14%

18%

23%

Merger or acquisition

18%

23%

14%

17%

 

View the Robert Half Employment Report H1 2015 here

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Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
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