China knowledge key to Deutsche's i-banking expansion

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Deutsche Bank is expected to hire more ECM and M&A bankers in Asia as part of a recently revealed push to expand its i-banking business. But recruiters warn that its search for staff needs to be swift and targeted at senior pros with China experience.

Robert Rankin, chief executive of the bank's regional operations, announced this week that he wants to grow market share in Asian ECM and M&A, two crucial sectors in which Deutsche lags behind its key competitors.

The firm will not reveal headcount targets, but recruiters in Hong Kong reckon Deutsche - whose Asian operations currently focus on FX, bond issuance, and credit and derivatives trading - will definitely be beefing up its hiring.

Just do it

Deutsche will have to act fast because other banks, including larger players such as Goldman Sachs, may soon be opening the recruitment floodgates, especially for ECM roles in Hong Kong.

Gary Collister, director and head of front office search, ConnectedGroup, predicts "huge demand" this year for ECM bankers.

"Set against 2008-2009, the pipeline might now be considered to be positively gushing. The outlook for the region is exciting on many fronts, particularly if you are currently looking for a new position," he adds.

But in January and February, ECM vacancies have yet to show any significant increase, so the timing for Deutsche might be just right.

"It's a good to start hiring these candidates before they really become in demand. It may be a very different scenario in six months time," says James Carss, director, banking & financial services, Hudson.

Questions, however, are inevitably being raised about Deutsche's ability to attract the best talent given that it does not feature in the top six in the latest Dealogic regional league tables for either ECM or M&A.

"But Rankin has a strong name and Deutsche has a good platform. Things may depend on what they pay in bonuses today," says one headhunter, who asked not to be named.

China counts

Rankin is on the record as being sceptical about flying in too many Western i-bankers to help his firm grow in Asia.

He is not alone in these beliefs, which apply equally to other international banks. "At the moment more experienced deal makers are needed at VP level and above. Mandarin speaking is really beneficial, as is local knowledge. Many overseas candidates apply for these roles, but lack the skill sets," says Carss.

Robert Conway, head of banking & finance practice, Talent2, stresses that experience of the mainland China market is increasing becoming the key hiring criteria for both ECM and M&A roles in Hong Kong.

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