Ant Group’s IPO could give its new Hong Kong bank an edge in virtual battle for talent

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Ant Group’s IPO could give its new Hong Kong bank an edge in virtual battle for talent

Candidates looking for jobs in Hong Kong’s new virtual banking sector have a plethora of options. Six of the eight online-only banks have now launched – and some of them are backed by household names, notably Mox, which is majority owned by Standard Chartered.

Recruiters say the battle for talent among the digital banks is heating up, and that having a well-known and established brand name behind a new business matters when it comes to attracting candidates. This is potentially good news for the latest virtual player to go live in Hong Kong: Ant Bank.

Ant Bank is 100% owned by Ant Group, the Alibaba affiliate and world’s biggest unicorn, which is headed for the largest IPO in history, a joint listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. Ant Bank also has a partnership with AlipayHK, allowing the latter’s two million users to open an account easily.

“The Ant brand and the forthcoming IPO are definitely attractive to candidates. We work with Ant Group globally, and it’s an easy sell to job seekers,” says Hong Kong-based Warwick Pearmund, an associate director at headhunters Hamlyn Williams.

For technology professionals, joining Ant Bank could also be appealing because of Ant Group’s history of tech innovation. “As an employer it’s undoubtedly a compelling proposition as it utilises the latest technologies and payment wallets,” says Matthew Caddick, managing director of Aptitude Asia.

Vince Natteri, MD of tech search firm Pinpoint Asia, sounds a note of caution. “The problem is that all these virtual banks have launched at more or less the same time, and are fishing in the same waters for talent. Ant Group does have a strong brand presence, but whether that’s enough to woo away candidates from other virtual banks or similar firms still remains to be seen,” he adds.

The other branchless banks to launch in Hong Kong are Mox, ZA Bank, Airstar, WeLab and Livi. Technology, business development and compliance candidates are typically at the top of their hiring plans.

Ant is not a particularly active recruiter this month, although headhunters say that could soon change if it gains customers more quickly than its rivals thanks to the Alipay tie-up. It has vacancies for a business development analyst, and a business intelligence and credit risk analyst on its careers website, both temporary contracts under the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s banking talent programme for graduates.

Photo by Salmen Bejaoui on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com or Telegram: @simonmortlock. You can also follow me on LinkedIn.

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