Asian expertise to fill corporate finance gaps

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The dearth of experienced analyst and associate talent in London is prompting banks to look east.

"You're going to see banks bringing in people from Hong Kong and Singapore this year," predicts Andrew Chancellor, London-based head of the banking and finance team at recruitment firm Robert Walters. "Most will be Europeans who might have been an accountant over here before moving into a banking role in Hong Kong. There's definitely a lot more flexibility about hiring that kind of person."

In the past, Chancellor says financiers who quit London in search of fame and fortune in Hong Kong were known by the acronym FILTH - Failed In London Try Hong Kong. Not any more, it seems. Banks' failure to hire and train sufficient numbers of corporate financiers during the downturn of 2002 and 2003 means they're keen to hire wherever they can.

Robert Thesiger, chief executive of recruiter Morgan McKinley, confirms the talent pool is becoming more and more global. "It's no longer just about finding candidates in London and continental Europe - there's much more transference from Hong Kong, Singapore and India."

Corporate financiers who make the move to the City of London from Asia are likely to see a significant upside in their pay packets.

The 2006 salary survey from international search firm Options Group suggested a first-year associate in corporate finance/M&A earned a base salary of 50k to 65k in London, plus a bonus of 100k to 150k. The comparable package in Hong Kong and Singapore was a base salary of 30k to 40k, plus a 70k to 90k bonus.

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