Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com
The US associate lateral hiring market in Asia for US and UK firms is in a severe down cycle, at least when compared to recent boom hiring periods (mid ’06 – mid ’08; mid ’10 to mid ’11). The bulk of the US associate hiring in Asia since ’05 at top firms has been in cap markets, especially in HK / China in china focused cap markets. This year lateral hiring in cap markets in HK / China has been extremely slow, for two obvious reasons: a) Many IPOs US cap markets groups have been working on in HK / China are on hold; and b) there was much more than usual lateral hiring in this practice area from late ’10 to mid ’11 (right before the slow down in IPOs). Most top US cap markets groups in HK / China are over staffed at present and a number of US firms have US associate hiring on hold in Asia in all practice groups because of this. With that said, we have recently made a few US cap markets placements in Hong Kong, but this is weak hiring area right now, so weak that some very impressive native Chinese US cap markets associates from top 10 US firms are having a hard time getting interviews, much less offers (and for most of the past 7 years in HK / China, this US associate background has been in very high demand, with such candidates usually having their choice of multiple offers quickly after starting a job search). When the market rebounds, hopefully in ’13, US cap markets associate hiring in Asia will bounce back strong. There are a lot of HK / China related IPOs on hold in and many of those deals will come back to life when the market rebounds, but for now things are very slow in US cap markets in HK / China, with there only being some pockets of cap market strength in Pan Asia (such as Philippines and Indonesia for example).
Coming out of the usual late summer period of hiring partners on holidays and slow interviewing and hiring, we usually get a pop of new openings in September. This year we were not expecting much, considering the market, but we have been pleasantly surprised. It is surely not a strong hiring market at present, but more new openings than to be expected (see below) while the HK / China market is still in a down cycle.