Written by PER’s Head of Asia: Linn Cheng
We’ve had an interesting and varied year. Considering the political changes in the world, we have not seen this having a significant impact on the Asian private equity market, in actual fact on the contrary, Asia seems to be building momentum with strong fundraising and capital deployment, consequently leading to a healthy hiring market.
Interestingly, the bulge bracket investment banks have been struggling this year. Lay-offs throughout the year and bankers being made redundant prior to their bonuses being paid has resulted in a larger number of banking professionals available in the market.
PER’s fast growing reputation in the Asia region has been down to maintaining and strengthening our relationships with our existing clients, understanding what they are looking for, and leaving “no stone unturned” during our searches. We have also been building new relationships within the region and look forward to developing these over the long term. One area we take enormous pride in is our continuous targeted mapping of the banking, private equity and consulting sector by our research team. We’ve been able to spot interesting data and trends, in particular in the investment banking pool. Some key trends we have seen include an increasing appetite for start-up/Venture Capital platforms. Analysts tend to start looking for opportunities as early as their first year compared to only two to three years ago when the trend was still to hire them in their third year before promotion to Associate.
As we all know hiring trends within the Private Equity industry are like a pyramid with junior levels accounting for the bulk of hires. This year was no exception with 75% of our placements being first time entries into Private Equity (including both Investor Relations and Investment roles).
Investor Relations and Fundraising roles have been and are likely to be a central area of growth in Asia. This year we have seen several third party fund placement agents adding to their teams with local talent.
I am asked and approached frequently from people outside of Asia wanting to relocate to the region primarily Hong Kong and Singapore, and asking how feasible it is. However, this is only practical option if you are 1) Native in an Asian language in order to build rapport and understand the businesses that Private Equity firms are considering and 2) have had deal experience in Asia. If the answer is no to both then it may prove challenging considering the strength of regional talent who have both language skills and deal experience.
Starting a new search is always exciting for us. For the Private Equity industry seeking talent from the investment banking pool has been the preferred choice. However, this year we have seen an increasing demand for talent from the top tier strategy consulting firms and transaction services teams at the Big 4 accounting firms. This is partly because new banking compensation schemes are being introduced at certain firms such as the accelerated Analyst/Associate programs and this has resulted in junior pay inflation.
Overall, it’s been a good year for PER Asia, with a variety of interesting and high quality mandates across asset classes, seniorities and geographies. We are welcoming 2017 with a big smile and looking forward to another busy year!
About the author: Linn Cheng is the Head of Asia at PER and leads all searches in the region. She focuses on both investment and fund raising/investor relations roles. Her recent mandates include funds and secondaries, direct and co-investment, placement and investor relations. She has successfully completed over 18 placements in the region since 2015.