Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Hiring Bonanza Sparked by Booming China Dollar-Bond Sales

Updated on
  • Chinese dollar-bond issuance almost doubled last year
  • Most sought-after roles are in deal origination: recruiters

China’s booming sales of dollar bonds are spurring a hiring bonanza as deal arrangers scramble to keep up with the issuance volume. 

Chinese issuers sold $202 billion worth of dollar bonds overseas last year, almost double the amount in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The nation has been dominating the Asian market, accounting for 63 percent of 2017 issuance, up from just 24 percent five years earlier. As a result, many Chinese securities firms are hiring more deal-origination bankers in expectation of an even busier 2018, according to recruitment agencies.

Explosive Growth

Dollar bond sales by Chinese institutions almost doubled in 2017

Source: Bloomberg

The ramp up in personnel will give China’s financial institutions even greater capacity in the offshore Asian bond market where both issuance and investment have come from within the region -- largely driven by China. And Chinese banks are grabbing a bigger piece of the pie: Bank of China Ltd., for example, was no. 1 in arranging dollar bonds for Chinese issuers in 2017, up from sixth in 2014.

“A lot of Chinese securities firms want to hire in the credit space,” said Bethan Howell, a consultant at recruitment firm Selby Jennings in Hong Kong. “Heavy deal flows are expected to come through from the China market, so people are trying to beef up their headcount in that area.”

The hiring demand is so strong that Selby Jennings itself is expanding, adding a person recently to cover fixed income and credit for this year, Howell said.

Singapore Snubbed

Sirius Partners, another boutique executive-search firm in Hong Kong, expects new fixed income-related positions in Hong Kong to grow about 25 percent this year, according to the firm’s partner Hubert Tam. He also sees the flow from issuance to increased trading in the secondary market spurring demand for credit sales and trader roles.

Bocom International Holdings Co. is among those hiring, according to Joanne Wong in Hong Kong. She says more people are needed for the debt capital market business desk that she heads. 

China CITIC Bank International Ltd. is also building up its own fixed income trading desk which would comprise of traders and credit analysts covering offshore bond markets, said Jeffery Bai, acting treasurer of treasury & markets group at the bank.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. hired Florence Chan last month in a new role to oversee greater China credit and rates sales. Chan is also based in Hong Kong, which has been the focus of the latest hiring binge, with Singapore getting less attention nowadays.

Read here about how Singapore is getting snubbed in other ways as the Asian dollar-bond market swells.

Here’s what some others are doing and planning:

AMTD Asset Management Ltd. (William Fung)

  • Recently hired three in debt capital markets; planning on two or three more in coming months
  • Hiring is driven by Chinese corporations’ need to explore more sophisticated funding instruments such as perpetual bonds, additional tier 1 securities and structured notes

China Merchants Bank International (Paul Au)

  • Plans to hire two rating advisers to cover both high-yield and investment-grade credits
  • “By offering rating advisory services, we will be able to help first-time issuers access the market with better visibility and maintain their relationship with the rating agencies even after the deal is priced."

ICBC International Research Ltd.

  • Likely to add one or two analysts for fixed-income research this year as client requests on specific credits are on the rise.

Pengyuan Credit Rating (Hong Kong) Co. (Jonathan Hu)

  • Plans to add three senior rating analysts to cover the Chinese corporate sector this year after hiring 11 in recent months in an overseas push to cover the China dollar-bond boom.
(Updates with China CITIC Bank Intl hiring plan in the eighth paragraph.)
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