Both domestic and foreign institutions have slowed recruitment, according to headhunters in the financial hubs. They’ve been impacted by quarantines, restrictions on travel to and from China, remote working arrangements and decisions not to conduct face-to-face interviews.
It’s another aspect of the fallout from the virus, which has also caused factory closures, disrupted supply chains and initiated the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. Recruiting has become less of a priority as firms including DBS Group Holdings Ltd. have highlighted the revenue impact of worsening business conditions.
“Everybody is distracted,” said Gurj Sandhu, a managing director at Morgan McKinley Group Ltd. in Singapore. Hiring is falling down the “pecking order,” he said, while adding that nobody is canceling roles yet.
Bloomberg spoke with six recruitment firms, all of which confirmed the slowdown. Hiring processes and relocation plans are taking longer at most companies because of logistical difficulties. While some financial firms are conducting interviews by video conference or phone, closing the deal is more problematic, especially at investment banks and wealth-management units.
Bankers are “big-ticket items,” said Hubert Tam, a managing partner at Sirius Partners Ltd. in Hong Kong. Private banks and investment banks are holding off on hiring until they can meet candidates in person, “even if they performed well last year,” he said.
What’s more, many private bankers covering China would have to travel to the country to meet clients and “get their blessings” before they move banks, according to Amod Jain, a Morgan McKinley consultant in Singapore. “Not everything can be done by phone.”