According to the International Talent Mobility Report released last week, there is a shortage of local workers in the finance and compliance fields. About 30 per cent of respondents said finance was the hardest area in which to find skilled candidates, while 24 per cent cited compliance.
The report, a collaboration between ACCA - the global body for professional accountants - and leading recruitment firm Robert Half International, was based on a June survey of 645 respondents from the local finance, accounting and banking sectors.
"In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, regulations are becoming more stringent and many new regulations are being introduced," says Pallavi Anand, director of Robert Half Hong Kong, commenting on the deficiency of workers in the compliance field and linking the shortage to the global recession. "The existing skills shortage is a result of resources not being able to keep up with the rapid changes in regulation," she says.
According to Anand, many employers are using innovative strategies and tactics to fill the holes. "With a huge shortage of staff in compliance, employers are now looking to people that come out of the internal audit and investigating fields who can relate to rules and regulations," she adds.
With related skills, these candidates can easily move into the compliance field. Also, due to unstable conditions abroad, a lot of Hong Kong workers who were once based overseas are now coming back and filling roles, adds Rosanna Choi, chairman of ACCA Hong Kong.
With regards the lack of skilled finance candidates, Choi says a talent shortage in the finance sector has been widespread across the Asia-Pacific region since last year. The shortage of finance candidates can be linked to the financial crisis as well.
However, it is much more difficult to find potential finance people than compliance staff.
"While employees in the compliance fields can be transferred from other areas, financial staff are a lot harder to come by and this is when companies start looking overseas to bring people in," Anand comments.
"Having a globally recognised accounting qualification is very important. Sometimes accounting professionals are trained to have a more global view or understanding of regulations, both locally and overseas," adds Choi.
Ultimately, this could lead to a company having mobile talent across the world, which could be a great benefit especially during times when there is a marked undersupply of talent.