Similar to other sectors, Accounting & Finance was off to a slow start due to the Chinese New Year holidays. Low consumer confidence saw most companies being more cautious with carrying out their hiring plans.
Despite low confidence in spending, certain industries such as Professional Services, Information Technology and Healthcare organisations continued their growth plans and kept their hiring activities high. We saw a trend of companies spending more time, effort, and involving more stakeholders in the interview process to identify the best talent to ensure the success rate of incumbents coming into the role. Job seekers were cautious overall as they weighed the risks involved and took more time in considering their next career move, and factors such as company culture, career development, and work-life balance were of even more importance to candidates before accepting a job offer.
Employers were more cautious with their spending, and this created an increased demand for candidates with Financial Planning & Analysis, and Tax & Treasury/Cash Management skills in order to strengthen and be aware of their financial health. We also saw an increase in credit roles as businesses sought to better manage their cashflow in an increasingly competitive market. Additionally, as many companies maintained leaner teams to keep cost low, there was a reduction in volume of transactional finance positions, which at times were outsourced to other locations or third party providers. Internal Audit and Compliance candidates continue to be in high demand, though the level of experience expected by companies and the heavy traveling schedule limits the pool of available candidates.
While the demand for candidates with local language skills, strong technical ability and relevant qualifications remained high, employers put more weight on soft skills such as business acumen and stakeholder management. Candidates who possessed a combination of these skills were highly sought after but many employers faced challenges in finding and attracting such talent. Moreover, companies were not willing to lose these candidates and this has led to increased frequency of candidates being bought back and retained. Ultimately, businesses were looking for candidates that could be strategic but also hands on and this translated into more expectations on the candidate’s breath of technical experience. This trend will continue as traditionally larger and transactional finance teams give way to leaner and more agile operations.
With the additional tightening of manpower licenses, the trend of hiring local and permanent residents continued due to the risk of employment passes being rejected, though in some cases business looked at foreign hires despite the risk as they looked for candidates with different language skills to diversify their team dynamics.
Amid a slow start at the beginning of the year, we expect that hiring activities will continue to rise as companies look to increase their headcount in H2 2017.
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