It shouldn’t be a bumper season for candidate movement, despite bonus disappointment

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Post Chinese New Year is normally the season for candidates to move companies after obtaining their bonuses, but this year employees at Western banks in China are playing it safe. Even disappointment with their bonuses isn’t enough to convince many to look elsewhere.

Cherol Cheuk, general manager of Hudson Shanghai, says: "It is a common phenomenon in the market to look for opportunities after receiving bonuses. However, given the current market situation in the financial services sector, motivations for changing job may not be so high as this would mean a bigger risk to candidates. There won’t be that many new jobs either because most foreign banks are being conservative on headcount growth for 2012."

She adds that post-bonus movement is "relatively quiet and less active" compared with 2011. The Hudson Q1 report also shows that the size of bonus payments has declined this year, with more banks willingly pay bonuses of less than 10 per cent of salary.

Kyle Qin, a consultant at Shfinder Talent Services, says some banks have decreased bonuses by between 20 and 50 per cent. But although people who didn't get high payments are unhappy, they will have to wait until better opportunities come alone, he adds.

“Roles at other Western banks are not much different from their existing jobs, so candidates see no reason to move. And on the other side of the fence, Chinese banks are very hard to get into, so most people will stay put."

This wait-and-see atmosphere is strongest in big cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, in contrast to second-tier cities where branch expansion is generating new vacancies.

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