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At a time when financial institutions increasingly want to take risk off the table, many in Hong Kong and Singapore face the challenge of finding the human resources to do so.

Demand for talent within risk-related positions is not in question – created by a range of factors such as ever-stiffer regulatory requirements and front-office objectives to access new markets like China. The issue, for various players from banks and asset management firms to insurance companies and fintechs, is supply. People with the right levels of experience and expertise are hard to come by.

There are other pressures on clients’ ability to meet the demand for risk-related expertise. Among them is an emerging trend where several senior risk professionals within international banks are seeking diversity in their careers by moving into risk-focused roles at non-financial services companies that are beefing up their teams and processes.

Added to this openness to other industries among a growing number of candidates, other factors driving some candidates to explore new opportunities include the desire for a step-up in their career at a time when ‘risk’ is in the spotlight.

As financial institutions try to solve this human capital conundrum, we have observed more and more hiring activity generally in Asia’s key financial hubs during 2018 across operations, conduct, IT and audit risk. 

Below are some of the main trends we have seen in recent months – and ones which we also think will influence the hiring landscape in terms of the types of people and positions that will be in demand going forward, at least during the early stages of 2019.


  • While a lot of support functions continue to be outsourced or moved offshore, internal audit remains one of the most solid and in-demand; financial institutions seem intent on keeping this in-house and onshore.

  • Insurance and re-insurance firms have been particularly active in recruiting audit professionals in Hong Kong and Singapore.

  • Another hot area is for talent within compliance, regulatory and AML audit roles. In particular, specialists in compliance audit and front-office risk testing are becoming ever-more crucial, to assess financial models. This usually requires auditors with a quantitative background, ideally with a PhD. The importance of testing is even leading some of the bigger players to create small teams, not just perform this task in an ad-hoc way.


  • There is a lot of appetite to hire IT auditors across AVP and VP levels, which is also encouraging a growing number of individuals at sell-side institutions to move into audit positions as they become available within buy-side firms as well as non-banking financial institutions.

  • Positions within cyber-security audit and data analytics are in high demand.

  • Candidates increasingly sought-after are those individuals with strong business acumen to complement their IT skills. People who know how the business works and where the products fit best are at the top of the list; being technologically savvy is no longer enough.

  • European banks, asset managers, and insurance and re-insurance are especially active in adding IT audit firepower.


  • Professionals with conduct experience are attracting a lot more interest as several clients create new roles in response to expectations among international regulators that this expertise is put in place to meet new obligations and compliance regimes.

  • Dedicated whistle-blowing hotlines and conduct training are among the areas where more talent is needed. This is particularly true within US and European banks, which are at the forefront of setting up or expanding conduct teams.

  • Within conduct positions, financial institutions are particularly interested in candidates who have a trading background, since they understand the mind-set and know the ‘tricks of the trade’ when it comes to potential sources of mis-conduct.


Below is a list of our risk-focused searches – both completed and ongoing: 

  • Regional Head of Internal Audit - Fund Manager 

  • Deputy Head of Conduct - Investment Bank

  • VP, Conduct - Investment Bank

  • VP, Global Markets Operational Risk - Investment Bank

  • VP, IT Audit - Investment Bank

  • VP, Business Audit - Investment Bank

  • Compliance Audit Manager - Corporate Bank 

  • VP, IT Audit - Asian Bank

  • VP, IT Audit - Global Insurer

  • AVP/VP, Business Audit - Global Insurer

  • Manager, Business Audit - Financial Advisory Firm


For more information on recruitment trends, please contact our Audit and Conduct team:

James Rushworth

Barbara Cochrane

Orelia Chan

Andy Zhi


James Rushworth, Managing Director, Profile Search & Selection


November 2018