Cuts to pay and perks trigger flight from China's state banks

Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:23am EDT
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By Engen Tham and Lawrence White

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Bankers at China's top state lenders are quitting in increasing numbers because of cuts to their pay and perks, and moving to a new breed of financial firms such as leasing companies, trusts and online platforms, bankers and headhunters say.

As part of an austerity, anti-graft drive, Beijing last year dictated pay cuts of up to a half for senior-level state bankers. Some state-owned lenders have since quietly cut salaries across the board.

The declining popularity of bank jobs could make it difficult for state lenders to hire and retain talent, making them less able to compete with newer lending institutions.

"In the past we wouldn't see CVs from the state sector, but now we do," said Maggy Fang, managing director of executive compensation Asia Pacific at Towers Watson, a professional services company, noting that most of these resumes are from mid-level, thirtysomething bankers.

And they are good news for the newer finance firms.

"If an applicant is from one of the big five (state banks), they will have good training and are likely to have experience of trading systems and customer credit," Zhao Shen, deputy general manager of the risk management department at the leasing arm of shipbuilder China CSSC Holdings (600150.SS: Quote), told Reuters, adding his firm has hired from banks and plans to hire more. "We can guarantee we'll pay them more."


Security guards stand outside a branch of the Bank of Communications located in central Beijing in this March 30, 2010 file photo.  REUTERS/David Gray