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Wall Street's Frustrated Chinese Bankers Are Heading Back Home

  • U.S. sector contracts but China expanding with opportunities
  • They are called `sea turtles' but some may become `sea gulls'
Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange.
Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
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For Shiwei Zhou, it was partly the sense of obligation toward after-work drinks and talk of ice hockey. William Su felt his career was stuck after four years in the same role. QJ Guo wanted to be near his parents as they age.

All three are among the many Chinese who came to the U.S. to study business, find work and make salaries beyond reach at home and are now headed in the opposite direction. As U.S. firms have cut bonuses and positions, and China’s sector explodes in sophistication and pay, some are migrating back. And while this may seem like an odd moment to repatriate, given the mounting financial jitters back home, two forces are driving the move: the fact that many feel they’re hitting a bamboo ceiling in the U.S. and the belief that Chinese growth, while slowing, is shifting into areas that will benefit bankers.