Oct 17, 2008

Reflections on a Job Interview

I interviewed someone yesterday. He's a lawyer in London. Until recently, he was employed by Lehman Brothers. Or maybe he officially still is, but I think his salary no longer arrives.

The candidate has seven years of working experience more than me. That makes him very senior. His stated expected salary, however, was quite low (lower than mine). I sensed a little desperation. He's very eager to grab his wife and kids and get out of London (now populated with unemployed ex-bank employees) and come out to Asia as soon as possible.

Hmmm. This is going to be a trend. It will go on for years. During the good times, financial institutions in Singapore and Hong Kong were short of finance professionals. Due to the market shortage, their salaries climbed high (mine included). Now, however, a huge number of well-qualified banking professionals in London, New York and elsewhere have become unemployed and are flooding the market.

Many will aim to come to Asia. I guess the overall median salaries will have to go down. They probably have already started going down.

Good thing I specialise in various Asian jurisdictions. That gives me some insulation. You will hardly find any banking lawyers in London or New York, who are familar with the banking-related laws in countries such as Thailand, Korea, Malaysia or China. My Asian experience is what keeps me relevant (relatively speaking).


Unknown said...

I just want to ask you about the financial situation in Singapore banks.
I am an Australian citizin, I have money in term or fixed deposit in OCBC bank in Australian dollars.
Do you the money is safe? Is it is better that i move them to Australia or keep them
in Singapore banks?

I am very worried that something will happen to the bank.
A quick reply will be appreciated. Thank you

Anthony said...


The Singapore government has decided to insure a good chunk of bank deposits. That includes FD money.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...


No, your money is quite safe now, in my opinion.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Refer also to my preceding post.

CK said...

And in 10 years time, after those people come to Asia, Asia will have its next financial crisis.

the virgin undergrad said...

Hi Mr Wang,

In your professional opinion, do you reckon the surplus of experienced finance professionals is likely to crowd-out positions for entry-level finance jobs? Or do banks have a 'fresh graduates only policy' for entry level positions?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

In the first place, I don't even think that there will be many entry-level finance jobs in Singapore, for some time.

the virgin undergrad said...

Man that was fast!

Thanks for the quick reply =)

David said...

Are those Relationship Managers (RM) entry level finance jobs? I mean those who serve the uncles and aunties or folks like me, not those ultra rich fellas.
Because of these RMs, we have so many of these Minibond, XXX Notes victims now. Or will these RM positions disappear just like how those victims' money disappeared?

Recruit Ong said...

I am just wondering... these supposedly "very experienced foreigners" failed to see the crisis brewing and sank with the ship. Wont the good ones have bailed out before the ship sank and landed themselves in safer jobs? heehee..

nhyone said...

These European lawyers may not threaten your job security directly. However, as you said, the median salary will come down and the threat then comes from Asian lawyers with less experience.

Anonymous said...

mr wang,
You perhaps overlooked one very key point in the flow of human capital in the next couple of years. With Obama, Brown and Sarkozy in power, talking of their versions of social equality and penalizing Hedge Funds and Fin Institutions, the west will lean towards socialism. These European bureaucrats are just dying to punish rich individuals & institutions for making money. I see a repeat of the UK back in the 70's, when all the wealth flowed out to tax havens, resulting in bankrupt or underfunded government programs. These moneyed people and institutions are coming here, to low tax Asia.

Anonymous said...

great post