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WilsonHCG joins forces with Profile Search & Selection as it continues to expand its presence in Asia

Integrated capabilities provide increased global access to cutting-edge talent solutions as two industry leaders join forces --Tampa, Fla, -- WilsonHCG, a global talent solutions leader, has announced it has joined forces with Profile Search & Selection (Profile), a Hong Kong-based human capital solutions specialist, as it continues its expansion across Asia. Profile, which was established in 2005, is headquartered in Hong Kong and has offices in Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing. With more than 100 consultants, Profile provides high quality regionally led human capital solutions to leading organizations in the financial, commercial and professional services sectors. “In an ultra-competitive environment for talent globally, clients are relying on us to deliver innovative worldwide talent solutions," said John Wilson, CEO at WilsonHCG. "We are beyond excited to partner with Andrew, Richard, and the Profile team - the cultural and value alignment is a natural fit. Profile’s expertise throughout Asia, combined with our existing global capabilities that span 40+ countries over six continents, means we'll continue to provide the highest level of service to our clients around the world." Andrew Oliver, co-founder and managing director at Profile, said: “We are extremely excited about what the future holds for our combined entities. Having spent more than a year getting to know John and his leadership team, the client and geographical synergies of the business are clear to see. What excites us the most, however, are the mutually held values and strong emphasis on culture which have driven the long-term success of both organizations.” “We are absolutely thrilled to be joining the WilsonHCG group and are very much looking forward to adding a tremendous amount of value. Culturally speaking, it has been a meeting of minds with regards to our values of professionalism and integrity, and our shared purpose of providing a quality, expectation-exceeding service to our clients,” Richard Letcher, co-founder and managing director at Profile added. About WilsonHCG WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning 40+ countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and technology advisory. TALENT. ™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are. About Profile Established in 2005, Profile Search & Selection is Asia’s leading independent recruitment and human capital solutions specialist. The company provides collaborative solutions to financial services, commercial and professional services clients and works with some of the region’s most admired brands. Media Contact Kirsty Hewitt +44 7889901517 813-418-4479
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2020 Insurance Market Update

InsurTech and digital technologies have disrupted the traditional insurance industry significantly. In the last 12 months, we have placed more non-traditional candidates into the insurance industry than ever before. By looking into alternative approaches to business, insurers are rethinking their hiring strategy and seek to expand their organisation beyond the usual candidate pool. This report highlights the changing trends of hiring within insurance and what to expect in 2020. 4 FORCES DRIVING INSURANCE HIRING 1. DIGITALIZATION Life Insurance Agencies, brokers and bancassurance have been the traditional channels for insurance growth. With the emergence of rapidly evolving customer behaviours and digitalization of customer access, a few insurers are leading the way to digitize their business more quickly than anticipated. While insurers need to embrace this digital transformation across agency and bancassurance channels, they will also need to create benefits and efficiencies for the more traditional channels in order to adapt to these new technologies. Customer journey and user interface are increasingly at the forefront of senior leadership conversations. “The threat comes not from the technology, but the failure to seize its business potential, claiming first mover advantage.” Insurance Disrupted: General Insurance in a Connected World, Deloitte LLP, 2015 Non-Life Insurance The development of new platforms from outside the traditional industry has grown at an exceptional rate. InsurTech and digital insurance have disrupted traditional insurance companies, for example, FWD offering entirely online insurance services for its clients. China is currently the market leader in providing one-stop platforms (e.g. WeChat) for the seamless customer experience. Other APAC markets are closing the gap. Online aggregators allow customers to easily compare products and prices before buying a policy. We are seeing increased transparency across products, streamlined purchasing processes and improved customer satisfaction across insurance and other areas of e-commerce. For insurers to offer a truly seamless digital customer experience, they must collect and use data effectively. This requires experienced project managers to modernise internal processes as well as technology developers to create user-friendly applications. Both should work closely with innovation and partner leads to ensure seamless integration and effective product reach to customers. Additionally, due to customers buying insurance directly online, insurance firms will need to put into place cybersecurity protections to safeguard customer data and ensure customer privacy. These developments mean making sure the business is on board and experimenting with different business lines. The insurers who get this right will reduce overhead and streamline operations to deliver cost efficiencies and differentiation in this highly competitive landscape. With the majority of the world’s population actively online, digital disruption is now the norm. According to a Deloitte survey on 2020 trends in the EMEA insurance market, many insurers believe technology will only continue to advance in the coming years. Insurers should leverage these technologies to their advantage to stay ahead of the curve. 2. EXPANDING REVENUE CHANNELS With margin pressures and new disruptions across the industry, insurers are currently looking at alternative sources of revenues. As direct insurers expand their reinsurance capabilities to offer a one-stop-shop to clients, they are now looking beyond their current use of agents and brokers. Instead, insurers are embracing technology as a way to create common marketplace platforms as well as social media to curate customer buying experience. Insurance firms have not been shy to leverage their balance sheet to offer more comprehensive structured solutions within the global market for their institutional clients, as well as expanding their direct investments capability in the chase for yield. FinTechs are expected to see significant growth, largely in part due to the increased accessibility of financial accounts through mobile phones. Particularly in the emerging markets, FinTechs have the potential to generate an additional GDP of US$3.7 trillion by 2025. 3. UPGRADE OF TALENT As a result of these expanding revenue channels, insurance companies are looking beyond hiring within the traditional industry. We have seen new headcounts for roles such as: Head of Innovation Partnerships Manager Digital Legal/Technology Compliance Data Analytics Head of Global Markets Structuring These roles did not exist before and are relatively new in the industry. When hiring for these positions, candidates from diverse backgrounds are considered, including from the FMCG, technology and other non-insurance sectors. Across the support functions, clients have become much more interested in hiring candidates from industries that have undergone massive upheavals, such as banking and technology. They tend to look outside traditional large insurers for more innovative, solution-oriented employees. As the digital insurance space grows, the competitive landscape shifts significantly and the challenges across the industry evolve. We are also seeing an increase in demand from non-insurance candidates who now want to join the insurance industry. Candidates want the stability of joining an asset owner as well as the opportunity to drive anticipated changes. To improve infrastructure, HR departments across the region are increasingly looking to upskill their staff. This can be attributed to significant advances in the insurance workplace, such as: Improved technology to allow for agile working environments Genuine wellness programs – remote working, gym memberships, meaningful benefits Strong company culture is crucial to attracting and retaining talent. According to our survey conducted with the Roffey Park Institute of nearly 3,000 professionals across APAC, a culture that embraces professional development and continuous learning was at the top of the list of attributes employees look for in an organisation. ​ HIRING HOTSPOTS IN 2020 Hiring for insurers is expected to expand in 2020. This is primarily due to the following industry disrupters, which we predict to be the top insurance hires over the next year: Head of Partnerships Enterprise Risk Management Tech / Data Privacy Lawyers Global Markets Derivatives Sales & Structuring Direct Investments / Alternative Investments Forward-thinking HR / HR Op Design Innovation / Customer Experience Technology Developers Data Analytics Project Managers to drive digitalization for more brick & mortar insurers 4. CHINA DEVELOPMENTS Recruitment trends in China are shifting the focus away from the traditional insurance business and more towards the technology sector. For instance, e-commerce companies are setting up their business to support freight insurance. Over the past few years, new and diverse types of insurance products have been created, and product, risk and digital hires are noticeably active in the market. According to Swiss Re Institute, China’s insurance market will likely quadruple in 14 years to US$2.36 trillion and surpass the US as the world’s leader in the 2030s. With the opening of China’s financial services market, insurance is becoming an increasingly important industry. Local regulators have begun approving organisations to set up their WFOE insurance businesses in China. Due to this ongoing progress, we anticipate the recruitment market will be very active over the next 3 to 5 years. RECENT INSURANCE PLACEMENTS BY PROFILE ROLE ORGANISATION LOCATION Head of China Global Insurance Firm China General Counsel, APAC Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of Digital Legal, APAC Asian Insurance Firm Hong Kong Regional Digital Lead European Insurance Firm Hong Kong Director, Credit Research Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Chief Operating Officer Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of Talent Management & Development, APAC European Insurance Firm Hong Kong Group Head of Talent & OD Digital Insurer Hong Kong Head of Compensation and Benefits European Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of HR European Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of Talent Management, APAC Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of Service Delivery Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Senior Manager, Strategic Investment Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Head of APAC Performance & Rewards Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Regional HR Business Partner European Insurance Firm Hong Kong Content Strategy & Editorial Manager Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Legal Counsel Global Insurance Firm Hong Kong Regional Digital Lead European Insurance Firm Singapore Head of HR, SEA Global Insurance Firm Singapore Head of Legal Global Insurance Firm Singapore Head of Compliance Global Insurance Firm Singapore Senior HR Business Partner European Insurance Firm Singapore Senior Legal Counsel Asian Life Insurance Group Singapore Legal Counsel Asian Life Insurance Group Singapore Senior Manager, Risk and Compliance Digital Insurer Singapore Senior Manager, Talent Management Digital Insurer Singapore ​KEY CONTACTS For more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Insurance team: Hong Kong Office - please contact Paul Shelton Singapore Office - please contact Suan Wei Yeo Shanghai Office - please contact Andy Zhi Beijing Office - please contact Winni Wei Click here to download the full report.
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HR Function in the Asia Pacific Region Reinvents Practices for Multi-generational Employees

This article first appeared in the September/October 2019 edition of Human Resources, the official journal of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management. ​ Based on the views of more than 2,800 HR and non-HR professionals across Australia, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Singapore, the Roffey Park Institute and Profile Search & Selection Working in Asia Pacific: Key HR and Leadership Priorities for 2019 survey covers a wide area ranging from organisational culture and change, to well-being. The survey aims to provide insights on helping HR practitioners and their organisations to decide what they need to start, stop or continue doing in order to build and further develop their talent management strategies. As the role of the Human Resources (HR) profession in the Asia Pacific region continues to evolve, HR practitioners face a range of challenges that are further nuanced across countries and jurisdictions and between generations. Together with leadership development consultancy, the Roffey Park Institute, Profile Search & Selection carried out its fourth annual survey and report on Working in Asia Pacific: Key HR and Leadership Priorities for 2019. Covering the views of respondents from a wide range of industry sectors and organisations both large and small, the survey sets out to guide HR practitioners and the organisations they work for on what they need to do to translate the findings into strategies and practical plans. Rating the HR profession Amid expanding responsibilities, when both HR and non-HR professionals were asked to rate the capability of the HR function and their perception of it, confidence in the HR function to deliver for the business across all capabilities was quite low, specifically in relation to the use of AI, analytics and the HR function’s approach to succession planning. This is surprising given that more than ever before, organisations in Asia Pacific have been spending time building their talent management functions. As a response to these findings, organisations are urged to bring people from across their business, to collaborate and work together to address the perceived capability gaps. On a brighter note, indicating green shoots of confidence, the survey identified from HR professionals and non-HR professionals alike, a growing HR capability and reputation in the areas of developing inclusive and diverse workforces and facilitating learning. In addition, last year has seen a big leap towards improving workplace well-being. But perhaps we should ask if this is really enough, what do employees genuinely look for in an organisation, and does the new generation of graduate employees aspire to work in the same environments as their predecessors. Taking the pulse of an increasingly transient workforce One of the fundamental questions respondents were asked was “Are you considering a job move in the near future?” Across the four geographic markets surveyed, an average of 67% of respondents indicated positively that they would be open to exploring a new job opportunity. Breaking this down further, it seems that Generation X employees indicated more of an intention to leave their current organisation, compared with employees that belong to the Baby Boomer and Gen Y generations. Equally hard to ignore is the finding that more than two-thirds of respondents are potentially ambivalent – or worse, disengaged – with their current companies and/or roles. Delving deeper into the topic, to asses why employees are considering a job move, of the many answers given, the top reply cited was a “lack of career growth and developmental opportunities”. This was followed by a “lack of opportunity to make a difference” and a “lack of appreciation or recognition”. Surprisingly, many respondents also said they were considering a move due to “organisational politics”. Across the four markets surveyed, the reasons feeding a job move were fairly consistent. For Mainland China respondents, however, the fourth highest response cited as a key motivator to leave the current employer was “insufficient financial rewards”. Broken down by generation, Gen X and Gen Y were more concerned with making a difference, while baby boomers focused on a lack of career growth and developmental opportunities. It is also noteworthy that a large percentage of respondents (33%) felt a “lack of appreciation” at their current organisations, a perception which has a strong linkage to the relationships they have with their colleagues, and in particular, their managers. When asked how they would rate their line managers, about a third of respondents said they were weak at “connecting with employees on a personal and emotional level”. They were also considered weak at “giving praise and recognition for work done”. On the other hand, around a third of respondents acknowledged that their line managers were “excellent” at “empowering employees to make decisions”, “treating people fairly”, and “giving praise and recognition”. The findings indicate that while managers lean towards strong technical qualities, in other instances they lack the “human” and “emotional” side of delivering feedback and empathy that respondents are looking for. Stress causing factors Other factors certainly play a role in why employees may be unhappy or feel disconnected at work. When asked what they consider to be the major stress causing factors in their working life, respondents cited “poor strategic direction”, “lack of support from the top” and “organisational politics”. Mainland China was an anomaly, with respondents rating “poor strategic direction” and “organisational politics” very low, although consistent with the Hong Kong and Singapore markets, a “lack of support” from their organisations is deemed a major cause of stress. From the research findings, organisational politics – one of the causes of stress – can be linked to “organisational change”. In particular, a lack of transparency, power struggles, bias and favouritism were cited as the main stress inducing factors. However, a fairly sizeable group of respondents also cited “undermining peers” – for example gossip, bullying, backstabbing, and misuse of power – as a cause of stress. It is clear that politics play a significant role in why individuals choose to leave their companies, and somewhat worryingly, it could be argued that these challenges are at the heart of organisational culture, and therefore not something that is easy to change overnight. Mental health and productivity This year, the survey dedicated a number of questions to the issue of mental health. In comparison with the 2018 results, it is noteworthy that more respondents felt comfortable discussing mental health issues with both colleagues and managers. Even so, only about 50% of respondents in Asia felt comfortable discussing mental health issues with their colleagues and managers, compared with 67% of Australian respondents. While respondents resoundingly indicated that work-related mental health and well-being issues are a major concern, it is notable that more than half of the organisations in Asia where respondents are employed fail to recognise mental health as a serious issue. Perhaps even more alarmingly, the majority of respondents (70%) felt that their current job is adversely affecting their mental health “to some or a greater extent”. Notably this figure is highest in Mainland China (83%) and lowest in Australia (62%). When asked what type of support employers offer to assist employees suffering from mental ill-health, the results significantly showed that Australia is far more forward-thinking with 92% saying they offer “employee assistance programs” versus 23% in Mainland China. For each category, from offering “back to work assistance” and a “supportive and open culture”, to “mental health training”, Australia came out on top with Hong Kong, Singapore and Mainland China lagging considerably behind. Attracting and retaining employees Having assessed the various reasons why employees might leave an organisation, what do employees really want, and how can the HR function embrace the opportunity to offer and create this, and in so doing, instil greater confidence in their organisations? The top answer for Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore was “a culture that embraces professional development and continued learning”. Interestingly, while this was also a main benchmark for respondents from Mainland Chian, the top answer there was a “strong image of the organisation in the marketplace”. “Financial stability” ranked second for Singapore and third for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, respondents from Australia ranked “financial stability” fifth and rated “flexible work policies” in second place. Flexible working policies also featured in the top five preferences for Hong Kong and Singapore, proving to be more important for employees than in previous surveys. However, flexible working policies didn’t rate among the top five preferences from Mainland China respondents. Respondents from Hong Kong and Singapore also indicated they were looking for a “culture that is non-political”. Respondents from Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore also cited “strong leadership”, which didn’t feature in the top five preferences among Mainland China respondents who instead cited “market leader in the industry sector” as a preference. Similarities and differences When asked what motivates respondents at work, across the four markets the results were fairly similar, with respondents citing the “opportunity to make a difference”, “achieving results” and “respectful and friendly colleagues”. The only difference was Hong Kong where respondents cited “financial rewards” as a key motivator, while both Singapore and Australian respondents noted “autonomy and freedom to decide on what, how, where and when work is done” as motivating factors. Respondents from Mainland China provided significantly different answers. The top four motivators cited by respondents include a “strong vision from the organisational leader”, “financial rewards”, “recognition by others” and the “opportunity to develop new skills”. When looking at the four markets surveyed, it is noteworthy to compare the nuances, preferences and priorities, as well as the similarities and differences. The eagerness from Mainland China respondents to look for a strong brand image and market leader reflects a pervasive keenness to work for an organisation seeking to compete on the global stage. Respondents from Hong Kong and Singapore, on the other hand, rate financial stability over flexible working environment, while respondents from Australia clearly demonstrate preferences for flexible work practices and strong leadership from management over financial stability. In conclusion, despite some differences across the different employment markets, fundamentally it seems that employees will leave an environment that is not willing or able to help them to develop professionally or is internally political. At the same time, professionals will prioritise firms who can offer an open culture that embraces learning, as well as financial stability and flexible working policies.
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The Booming Healthcare Industry in China: Can Talent Acquisition Keep Pace?

“China is the most exciting healthcare story in the world today.” Franck Le Deu, Senior Partner McKinsey & Company Fuelled by growing healthcare demands from its increasingly affluent population, the government’s drive to open the healthcare market to foreign companies, and the development of innovative local healthcare solutions, China is undoubtedly one of the more exciting healthcare stories today. However, this story does come at a price. Companies are scrambling for talent as the market expands, often rapidly in new directions. Is talent acquisition keeping pace? Or is it lagging behind industry demand? TALENT MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES Four dynamic sectors are driving China’s healthcare industry: Pharmaceutical, especially biopharm Health Services, specifically for private hospitals, clinics, senior living facilities, and wellness Medtech Internet Health While each sector has its specific challenges, six common areas affect talent management as a whole. These overlapping issues influence the healthcare industry for the domestic as well as the global market. Government-backed initiatives to foster growth. The Chinese government is an active participant and advocate in the local healthcare industry, both for domestic and global consumers. Regulation changes and internal market access to foreign pharmaceutical companies are proof of the government’s intent. China as a key contributor to the revenue and growth of multinationals. This will remain true for some time to come despite the growth slowdown across all healthcare industry sectors. Essential source of global healthcare innovation. Product and business model innovation is significantly more prevalent in China, in comparison to the West. Adoption and acceptance rates of innovative solutions remain high. Affluence and the rising Chinese middle-class healthcare expectations. Like any country with a sizeable middle class, local expectations go beyond the primary treatment of illnesses and now embrace wellness, preventative medicine, and facilities to match the rising income levels of a more sophisticated local consumer. The digital transformation of the Chinese healthcare industry., China’s online healthcare platform, is an excellent example of a digital solution with a patient-focused strategy for retail, hospital services, and internet healthcare. Global R&D integration. The challenge is in integrating a global strategy with China product teams and a continually evolving local innovation ecosystem. Although best practices exist, a proven approach is still a work-in-progress. TALENT ACQUISITION IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY Across the four sectors driving the healthcare industry, there is a clear delineation of candidates wanted, including those with: BD and strategic experience Marketing experience Operational and clinical experience R&D experience CEO / CMO / COO for health services Talent acquisition for any of these categories will face challenges similar to that of most industries in China. For example, candidates will expect higher salaries, a clear and achievable career path, a chance to make a difference in the new company, organisational values aligned with their own, and job stability and personal growth. To compound matters, talent acquisition in the healthcare industry is all the more challenging due to the unique nature and diversity of the industry itself. While traditional products and services are still of importance, the demand for non-traditional solutions and innovative products and services is continuously increasing. Two key issues emerge that affect talent acquisition: Issue 1: The Talent Pool - Should we actively look outside the industry? The internet health sector is an excellent example of the talent pool issue in China. Being a relatively new sector, where can we find the best candidates? Recent trends show that more and more physicians are joining the internet health sector as consultants, many in the area of operational management. Hiring physicians for operational management fill a talent gap in this sector and will be closely watched to see if this is a stopgap measure or a viable long-term solution. For the more traditional business development, strategic, operational, clinical, and R&D roles, candidates were previously required to have local industry experience and knowledge. However, the evolving nature of the industry has allowed a larger talent pool to emerge. For instance, healthcare companies with business development and strategic role needs have appointed talent who have consulting backgrounds and are willing to take on project management roles. For R&D roles, clients are often willing to consider overseas talent, especially from the US market. Talent for such traditional roles can indeed come from outside the usual pool of candidates. Regardless of the specific roles candidates are expected to fill, they are also available from outside the industry. With new roles such as innovation project managers, CEO business assistants, clinical supply chain operators, and AI/digital, outside talent is increasingly significant. These roles did not exist until very recently, and an expanded talent pool will help fill this need. But what about talent from overseas markets? Especially for the “hot” local positions of CEO, CMO, and operational roles, candidates from APAC, Australia and the US are often highly sought after. The trend of hiring overseas candidates is an indicator that talent acquisition is coming from outside the usual candidate pool. Issue 2: The mindset of employers & how it affects talent acquisition in the healthcare industry The industry has three major employers: Government, joint ventures between local and foreign companies, and private companies. Employers with a more traditional view of their business will look for conservative candidates with a proven track record. These candidates have a “ready-aim-fire” approach to work as they are more careful and cautious, matching the employer’s traditional views in an ever-evolving industry. On the other hand, employers in need of innovation must ensure they do not get left behind and should seek talent with a more “ready-FIRE-aim” approach. They need candidates with a start-up and innovative mindset who are happy to create new processes and procedures as well as test what works and what does not. It is still unknown how employers will react by allowing these talents to innovate. However, if China’s experience with growing unicorns is any indication, many high potential candidates will come from China’s massive young talent pool. Given the right environment, these candidates have the ability and desire to create innovative solutions. THE FINAL WORD The healthcare industry in China is the latest addition to the long list of success stories coming from China. While talent acquisition efforts have mostly kept pace with the rapid changes, innovative talent acquisition practices must take shape to continue this success story. Unlike other industries in China, how best to approach this can raise more questions than it answers. Whether it involves AI, looking at different industries for candidates, or reskilling the existing workforce to take on new roles, one thing is clear. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to talent acquisition, and a “wait-and-see” attitude will not help. Instead, the time is right for a “ready-FIRE-aim” approach. OUR HEALTHCARE & LIFE SCIENCES TEAM For more information, please contact the Profile China Healthcare & Life Sciences team: Cherry Zhu, Director Dan Zhao, Senior Consultant Raphael Yang, Senior Consultant Alex Luo, Consultant Cheese Yan, Consultant Click here to download the full report.
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Spotlight on China, Oct 2019

PREPARATION, PERSEVERANCE & FLEXIBILITY KEY TO SUCCESS ONSHORE In this latest Spotlight on China, we aim to provide our latest updates around the developments in the Asset Management areas in China, especially in light of the recent announcements by the Chinese government as they accelerate the liberalisation of the financial sector. Looking ahead, international asset management firms have a lot to still be excited about in China. Despite a relative decline in activity over recent months, such as product launches and license approvals, the funds landscape continues to be the centre of attention for two long-term reasons: first, the clear commitment of Beijing to regulatory liberalisation; and secondly, the ever-changing nature and growth potential of the onshore market. These market dynamics bring with them an ongoing flurry of activity that is keeping us busier than ever. Less “white noise” in the market from 2017/18 certainly doesn’t mean fewer people moving firms. On one hand, new entrants seek to appoint talent in an array of roles, while on the other hand there are inevitable human capital-related needs as existing asset managers accelerate plans to expand their China businesses, as they are now able to wholly own local fund managers as early as 2020. The journey to either full fund management status, along with further growth of existing onshore operations, has started to create a steady flow of replacement hires and “upgrade” hires. These are in many ways the result of a maturing strategy of some firms in China. We have seen that a second or third anniversary of a first-mover wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE), for example, brings with it new requirements in terms of talent acquisition and retention. In the coming pages, we aim to explain the specific talent-related needs and priorities of firms at different stages of growth and development onshore. One common theme continues to stand out: as China’s asset management industry continues to evolve, so do the challenges in terms of finding and managing human capital in this competitive and changing marketplace. Drawing from our experience in working with global fund houses on their China strategy, we think several considerations are key to helping firms at different stages of onshore development to take their business forward: Consistent, clear and strong leadership and strategy of how to approach the China market Open internal channels of communication between offshore and onshore teams A strong and collaborative culture that promotes employee loyalty Flexibility to adapt to a landscape that is complex and constantly changing, often without much warning, in terms of regulations Patience in their long-term commitment to China within a global business framework It is becoming increasingly important for firms operating in China’s asset management landscape to understand the quite specific human capital needs they have, based on their growth ambition and where they stand today on the development cycle. We have segmented the current market landscape into 3 buckets, and our observation shows that in each of these segments, these firms have quite similar yet unique challenges with regards to human capital needs. ​ Based on the different strategies of the foreign fund houses operating in the domestic marketplace, the distinct groups of firms that have emerged require each asset manager to focus on hiring different types of individuals, as well as on managing and retaining that talent. Firms also need to be cognisant of the strategies required at a different stage of evolution. These trends reinforce our observations and expectations of an uptick in the volume of talent needed in 2019 and 2020 in comparison with 2017 and 2018. The “white noise” is reduced as firms are not all walking in lockstep. PFM ACTIVITY Below is a snapshot of the PFM market and fund launches chronologically. Please note several of the product names are direct translations from Mandarin. 6 KEY HUMAN CAPITAL OBSERVATIONS By combining the research results, taken from our survey conducted on the challenges facing WFOEs in China, with our ongoing dialogue with both candidates and clients, who are involved in the liberalisation and internationalisation of China’s asset management industry, we see six themes shaping the future of this sector. 1. Competition for talent has become even more fierce The fact that “lack of available talent” and “lack of talent depth and skill shortages” rank as the biggest WFOE-related challenges and risks for many global fund houses, reinforces just how competitive the race for human capital has become. Asset management executives shouldn’t mistake the recent reduction in the “white noise” from the initial WFOE start-up phase for a pull-back from this market. On the contrary, some of the more established firms have been focused on upgrading, replacing and adding to their headcount. For later entrants that form part of the next wave of WFOEs, they are looking to existing WFOEs for their initial recruits. Adding to the competitiveness is the growing number of firms now also looking beyond making obvious hires from competitors in favour of individuals that enable firms to differentiate themselves and their China strategy. 2. The only constant is change The surprise announcement from the State Council in mid-July 2019 that wholly foreign-owned fund management company applications would be accepted from 2020 – 12 months ahead of schedule – shows just how quickly the market can change. The influence on people as well as product needs to be understood and preparations put in place. Having a clear game-plan is essential for global firms to be able to adapt more quickly by making decisions at head office level in coordination with knowledgeable local leadership. This highlights the importance of having autonomy locally in China over key decisions, rather than frustrate leaders of the onshore business by head office retaining too much influence over the China strategy. As per the survey results on attracting talent in the first place and then keeping it, success will more likely come from strong management and leadership, plus better communication between local and regional teams. 3. Keeping pace with quickening regulation adds to the talent burden At the time the schedule for fully foreign-owned asset managers was brought forward, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) emphasized that this was part of a plan to accelerate its drive to liberalise the domestic financial sector. While this might seem a positive development at a higher level in head office, it puts (often undue) pressure on delivering on existing talent strategies. Further, the time and energy spent on pursuing previously agreed strategies may have been wasted given the need for significant flexibility. This makes it more challenging for global firms to be able to achieve goals that are considered, in our survey, important for talent retention – such as being clear and transparent about business strategy and goals. 4. Preparation and readiness is key to meet new requirements The desire among many international asset managers to develop their China business can only be fulfilled if they have the leadership onshore who is able to understand what is required of them in terms of the regulations, coupled with established communication and coordination with head office to adapt at relatively short notice. For example, with the CSRC demanding specific experience for certain job roles within a full fund management company, asset management firms need to make quick decisions. Those global players that seem to be navigating the environment most effectively are also those firms that have been engaging with regulators with a human capital mindset – not just focused on product. Patience is also required, since from experience, unforeseen hurdles should be expected regardless of the time taken to plan at the outset. Again, our survey supports this need for readiness since strong management and leadership, plus an open and team-oriented business culture, are considered key to attracting talent in the China market. 5. Talent strategies depend on onshore business maturity and ambition With the race to establish market share and brand awareness in China’s onshore asset management landscape now several years down the track, we have seen a clear separation among international fund houses depending on the extent to which they have embraced and invested in this opportunity so far. From our perspective, three groups have emerged: first, those charging ahead for full fund management status; secondly, those consolidating their PFMs; and thirdly, those looking to enter so at the start-up phase. Each of these approaches dictates a very different set of objectives and solutions for the talent acquisition, management and retention strategies that the firms need to employ. These firms have therefore developed their businesses in different ways and are seen differently by the wider industry – including, importantly, potential employees. For example, the early adopters, or faster movers, tend to attract candidates who are happier to embrace risk and change; more cautious candidates avoid global firms that are seen to be “breaking new ground”. 6. International strategies in China often don’t plug the talent gap Many global fund houses look to apply tried-and-tested offshore strategies to China and expect these will be equally successful. This might be in the way they try to launch and distribute new products, or how they approach research and client management. Although this is logical, we have seen that it creates problems for employers – the local talent pool simply does not exist in some areas. The results of the survey, for example, showed that investment, research and portfolio management are jobs that present the biggest hiring challenges in the China market, with sales, client service and distribution also hard positions to fill. This has led to potential solutions such as internal mobility, global sourcing and offshore talent pooling becoming even more of a focus for international firms. TAKING THE MARKET’S PULSE WHAT IS THIS? We conducted an anonymous survey into what is driving hiring and other human capital decisions for international firms. We are very grateful to the high number of survey respondents. WHY DID WE DO THIS? We wanted to produce a section based entirely on the views of you, your colleagues and your peers. WHO CONTRIBUTED? We contacted onshore and offshore professionals from both HR and Business sectors. Please see below for a breakdown of contributors. Who contributed to this survey? What do you think are the most pressing talent challenges facing asset management WFOEs in China? What do you think are the best ways to attract talent in the China market? What would you say are the key risks to your WFOE business in China from a talent perspective? What functional areas do you find most challenging to hire into in the China market? What do you feel are the most important business and personal drivers that improve talent retention? Below are survey answers to the simple question of what are “people challenges” within the current marketplace. TALENT ACQUISITION Ever-tougher competition in China’s asset management market is creating ongoing challenges for firms looking to acquire and keep their talent, regardless of where they are in their growth cycle. Our observation is that increasingly the most progressive organisations are those that are the most agile and proactive in how they approach talent acquisition. Adopting this approach involves looking at new hires from multiple avenues, represented by each of the talent sources outlined below. TALENT MANAGEMENT & RETENTION Below are the thoughts of employees of WFOEs across Shanghai with whom we constantly engage. We have gathered samples of their feedback concerning job satisfaction. As expected, the results are mixed. This is a distillation of those views. “China is different” is a phrase sometimes overused – and often as an excuse. What remains clear is that whilst China is different, the much larger influence on talent retention are the same as elsewhere: good management, strong communication, keeping promises and respecting other people’s opinions. While China may be different 25% of the time, the remaining 75% relies on good management. WHAT’S NEXT FOR GLOBAL FUND HOUSES IN CHINA There is little doubt about the clear and concerted efforts among regulators and industry players alike to help accelerate and evolve China’s onshore asset management industry. As such, we anticipate the next 12 to 24 months to be busier, and probably more challenging, than what we have seen to date. Global fund houses with high ambitions for their China business will be among the trailblazers in their bids for the full fund management licenses or JVs (possibly with banks), while a different group of firms taking a slightly more conservative approach will seek to consolidate their WFOE and PFM operations. The paths these firms choose will require them to tackle a different set of regulatory challenges and changes – all of which will impact how they manage their human capital. Our observation is that the market is settling into three different groups with different goals and needs. This makes it essential for them to keep several key talent-related objectives at the forefront of their strategy, as highlighted by the findings in our survey: Detailed planning – firms entering the market or seeking full fund management status need to plan very carefully and get full agreement and support at the head office level. HR, a strategic and critical partner – the human capital considerations mean HR needs to be involved in strategic decisions from day one. Without their input and counsel, seemingly well thought out business plans might fall short. Agile hiring strategy – firms need to be opportunistic in terms of when and how they identify talent, regardless of timing, so getting head-office sign-off on investment should be done ahead of time. Be adaptable – regulations, strategies, market trends, investment appetite and other dynamics will change, so being ready to pivot quickly is vital. It is essential to keep in mind that while China is an emerging asset management market, its key attributes are consistent with other countries at a similar stage of development. Ultimately, a best-practice management style will prove itself a key differentiator between those international firms who have what it takes to hire and retain the staff they want, against those firms who find it challenging to gain traction. This means good, adaptable and professional managers who can develop and execute a strategic vision with realistic expectations, coupled with a long-term commitment towards its people. We strongly believe these are the types of firms that will triumph over time. OUR ASSET MANAGEMENT TEAM For more information on recruitment trends, please contact Profile Search & Selection's Asset Management team: Hong Kong Office - Andrew Oliver Singapore Office - Stanley Teo Shanghai Office - Yao Xiong Beijing Office - Winni Wei Click here to download the full report.
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With close to 70% of employees open to considering a new job, why are companies unable to engage their staff?

Amanda Clarke, Director in our Human Resources practice area at Profile Search & Selection, discusses the challenges of attracting and retaining employees across APAC. We surveyed 2,800 people across Asia and the results are staggering. Out of the four main countries (Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China), an average of 67% of people said they were open to considering leaving their organisation. On probing this further, the main reason for considering to leave was a lack of career growth and developmental opportunities. It seems that although companies are trying hard to build out and improve their in-house Learning and Talent Development teams, it isn’t enough. Are employees becoming more impatient – expect to move up the career ladder quicker? Or are they experiencing a bottleneck as they get further up the food chain, with more senior employees not moving on themselves? Even at the junior end of the career ladder, a number of banks have lamented that graduates today are in some cases not even completing their 2-3 year programmes – jumping ship to take another role externally. For quite a number of years now, Talent Management teams have discussed the notion of ‘Lattice not Ladders’ – recognizing that one can’t keep going vertically upwards every two years and therefore encouraging employees to move sideways across functions and explore new geographical locations to further their development. Clearly more of a concerted effort is needed to put more resources into internal mobility, critical career pathing and meaningful mentoring to actively promote these options and ultimately better retain employees. Employees today also crave a sense of purpose. This was apparent in our survey and was the 2nd highest reason that employees wanted to leave their organisation – a lack of opportunity to make a difference. For today’s employers, this isn’t always an easy area to solve. With many international firms in Asia increasingly beholden to the global mothership out of the region, many roles in Asia are executional in nature and with an often ‘time poor’ workforce, there seems to be less room for innovation and creativity – particularly in times of cost-cutting and firefighting. Companies, and in particular, managers need to give their employees time to have a voice; to grow, make mistakes and learn from them, and ultimately time to create their own stamp within the constructs of the office environment. Lastly, our survey showed that 33% of those looking for another role did so because they weren’t ‘recognised or appreciated’ in their current firms. This point is increasingly of interest – it highlights the need for employees to receive ongoing feedback and feel valued by their managers and it hints at their desire to be part of a meaningful and accepting culture. As the generations of social media users continue to infiltrate the workplace, it’s hard not to see a link between the instant response one receives online (i.e. Facebook ‘likes’ & comments) and the desire for immediate feedback from managers in the workplace. Adding to this, as Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott point out in their recent book The 100-year Life, those entering the workforce today are predicted to live longer (some reaching 100 years), they will likely have extended working years (to fund their longer lives) and many will try their hand at a number of different careers in this time. As such, some don’t see the necessity to rush into a career and instead are choosing protracted breaks/periods of travel in between jobs, and some (happily) not settling into a ‘career’ until their 30s. Attracting and retaining employees with all this in mind has never been so hard. Rightly or wrongly, the workforce today appears to be more impatient, yet more particular and more indulgent – and the very best employers can do is rise up to this and recognize that without the ‘human touch’ and offering more bespoke solutions to suit each individual such as shorter job assignments, sabbaticals, flexible working, quicker paths to job change – employees will simply move on. After all, with a 100-year life, they have time on their side to find and try something new. Established in 2005, Profile is Asia’s leading independent executive search & selection firm. We provide collaborative solutions to financial services, commercial and professional services clients.
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What's Getting Us Up in the Morning?

Richard Letcher, Managing Director of Profile Search & Selection, examines what is motivating us in workplaces across APAC. For the last four years, Profile Search & Selection has carried out an annual survey of current HR and Talent issues in conjunction with The Roffey Park Institute, a UK-headquartered leadership consulting firm, and The Next Step, an Australian recruitment company specialising in HR talent. This year, 2,800 people filled in the survey anonomously, 94% of which were based in either Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong or China. Roughly half of all the respondents were HR professionals with the other half from various functions from Legal & Compliance, to Sales & Marketing and Finance & Accounting. Most (84%) were Manager level to Board Director and, generation wise, 57% were Generation X, 29% Generation Y with the rest being Baby Boomers. Around 30 core questions were posed by our survey – the last was a rather simple one: "What motivates you at work?". Respondents are asked to tick any number of 11 options that particularly applied to them, from 'Financial rewards' to 'The opportunity to develop new skills'. Here are the results split by geographical area. The pink circles denote the top motivators within that jurisdiction. What motivates you at work? % of respondents who indicated: *Pink circles indicate top four motivators. Purpose at work As you can see, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are largely in agreement about what their key motivators are at work. The number one motivator that gets folks out of bed in these places is 'The opportunity to make a difference', a motivating factor that borders on altruism and is certainly tied to the idea of purpose at work, a concept that many organisations are struggling with. Given its importance, if it could be somehow harnessed for every role in an organisation, it is likely that motivation gold would’ve been struck. But, as we all know, it can be quite elusive. Company size and life cycle might come into play here. ‘Making a difference’ might be easier for employees in start-up organisations, but for larger companies, there is more of a challenge. In last year’s survey, we asked the same question and 'The opportunity to make a difference' appeared at or near the top as well. It was the number one motivator in Singapore and came in second in Hong Kong (with first being 'Achieving results'). We didn’t have data for Australia last year. Results orientation, working with your buddies and being free Related to this number one motivator, 'Achieving results' is also important to most people in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. One would hope by achieving targets, a difference is made in the greater scheme of things. Working with 'Respectful and friendly colleagues' is also motivating as one might expect given so much of our life at work is spent interacting with others. Interestingly, from elsewhere in our survey, we established that the number one stressor across the region is 'Organisational politics', the antithesis of working with great co-workers. 'Autonomy and freedom to decide on what, how, where and when work is done', also seems to get us out of bed in the morning, particularly in Singapore and Australia. Motivational leadership China, on the other hand, dances to the beat of a very different drum when it comes to what motivates us at work. The chief reason to get out of bed in the morning is 'Strong vision from organisational leader' followed closely by 'Financial awards' (which coincidentally is joint second in Hong Kong). 'Recognition by others' is also an important factor in China as is the 'Opportunity to develop new skills'. Do motivators differ by generation? The answer to this is ‘yes’, sort of, with Baby Boomers and Generation X sharing very similar motivators at work. Here are the results, sliced and diced by generation. What motivates you at work? % of respondents who indicated: *Pink circles indicate top four motivators. What is striking about the table above is that the number one motivator for Generation Y is 'Financial awards'. Striking, but not a surprise given Generation Y are starting out on their careers and large cities can be expensive. Of importance also to this generation is 'The opportunity to develop new skills'. And the gold medal goes to… Also in the survey, we included a statement “I feel highly motivated“ and asked respondents to tick one of four options: 'Strongly agree', 'Agree', 'Disagree' or 'Strongly disagree'. Here are the results for ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Agree’ broken down by geographical area. Motivation levels % of respondents who indicated that they ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Agree’ to the following statement: As you can see, Australia comes out top with a very motivated workforce. China doesn’t fare so well, but neither does Singapore or Hong Kong. ​ And generationally… Motivation levels % of respondents who indicated that they ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Agree’ to the following statement: Generation X and Y are feeling mediocre levels of motivation. Baby Boomers lead the pack, perhaps because the work they are doing might be quite fulfilling or simply that, with only a few more years to go before retirement, there is a spike in motivation! HR functions across the region will benefit from paying heed to these results. Having an eye on the greater purpose of work and creating a culture in which there is a results orientation, people are respectful and friendly, and where autonomy and freedom are a given, can boost motivation, as well as retention. Established in 2005, Profile is Asia’s leading independent executive search & selection firm. We provide collaborative solutions to financial services, commercial and professional services clients.
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