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Dark clouds gather over securities sector after tough 2012

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai  (China Daily)

08:31, February 01, 2013

Industry sheds more than 23,000 jobs

Zhang Wei, a 27-year-old account manager for a securities company in Shanghai, quit his job in late December and joined a wealth management consultancy firm, selling financial products, in January.

The job change for Zhang, one of 23,300 professionals who left the securities sector last year, was a decision made under increasing pressure affecting the entire industry and uncertainty haunting the A-share market.

Zhang said: "At least I can tell my new employer that I initiated my new career path. If I had stayed, I would very likely have joined many of my colleagues in being fired within a couple of months due to a shrinking budget for the next year, ending up with a bad record on my CV."

According to the latest statistics from Weihai Investment Consultancy Co Ltd, China had 240,200 professionals in the securities industry by the end of 2012, a decrease of 8.84 percent year-on-year.

Zhang said the average annual income at securities companies dropped significantly last year, with some employers laying off workers to reduce costs.

Three securities companies among 63 in China reported losses for 2012, according to statistics from Wind Information Co Ltd, a financial data provider.

Total profit at the other 60 companies reached 17.4 billion yuan, according to their financial reports at the end of last year.

Xia Jianyuan, account manager with Aijian Securities Co Ltd, said: "It was indeed a tough year for all the professionals in our industry with clouds hanging over the A-share market, fewer initial public offerings and declining investor confidence, especially in the first 10 months of 2012. The situation was not as good as two years ago."

Sources with brokerages said it has been a tough time for their professionals, especially those involved in investment research.

A source with a Shanghai-based securities company said: "After 2010, which was a good year for us, we hired quite a lot of people in the hope that the bullish market would last ... but as bad times arrived, cutting headcount is the quickest way to reduce costs."

The source said the sector may see another round of layoffs in March.

Lily Bi, general manger of Hudson's Shanghai operation, said: "Employers may reward outstanding employees with up to 10 percent salary increases and re-examine salary plans for everyone."

Demand for top talent, including those capable and qualified to develop refinancing products and deliver asset management services, is still high, Bi said.

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