What It’s Like Working in the Fast-Paced Hong Kong Fintech Jobs Marketby Johanan Devanesan July 20, 2023
With a dedicated and longstanding commitment to an innovation-enabled financial landscape, the fintech jobs environment in Hong Kong is significantly developed and advanced. The territory has gained significant attention by focusing on developing intricate systems for digital banking, finance, insurance, fintech regulation, and market-to-market wealth management activities.
Since its economic upswing in the 1960s, Hong Kong has also drawn a vast number of international investors. A prosperous business environment, sophisticated infrastructure and a competitive job market continue to make the region appealing for those looking for new job opportunities abroad in emerging fields such as fintech.
Hong Kong’s Advanced Fintech Ecosystem
Despite an economic downturn, a lull in venture capital funding activities, and a wave of redundancies across the global fintech market following optimistic hiring during the pandemic years, there are approximately 550 fintech companies in Hong Kong, creating numerous employment opportunities.
Indeed, the fintech landscape in Hong Kong climbed from eighth to among the top five globally between 2020 and 2021, amid all the uncertainty. The Chinese special administrative region and Singapore are the only Asian territories in the top five, joining California’s Silicon Valley, New York City, and London.
Hong Kong undeniably holds vast potential for fintech. A 2022 study by InvestHK estimated that over 500 fintech startups are operational in the city. A surge of blockchain and Web3 companies is expected to further fuel growth in this broader space, with Hong Kong positioning itself as an international cryptocurrency hub.
During the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022, Financial Secretary Paul Chan and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) had much to say regarding the territory’s start-ups’ progression in utilising blockchain protocols to develop innovative products and solutions in conjunction with Web 3.0 technologies including cryptocurrencies, decentralised finance (DeFi), NFTs, and stablecoins, among others.
Perception of Fintech Jobs in Hong Kong
According to the 2023 eFinancialCareers global fintech report, 90% of respondents based in Hong Kong expressed a desire to work in fintech, a higher percentage than those in London, New York and Frankfurt. However, some concerns have been raised about the internal appeal of Hong Kong fintech jobs.
A number of the most valuable Hong Kong fintechs have received underwhelming online employee reviews, as discovered by eFinancialCareers when surveying fintech startups on job and employer rating platform, Glassdoor.
ZA Bank, Hong Kong’s leading digital challenger bank, for instance, only received a Glassdoor rating of 2.7 stars from Hong Kong employees. The 2023 reviews criticised the “heavy workload” and “poor management, location and structure.” However, one review did mention that “the benefits are overall acceptable.”
WeLab, a fintech offering a range of services including being a virtual banking competitor to ZA, had a marginally better rating of 2.9 stars despite criticisms of an “extremely backwards” culture. WeLab and ZA topped our list of Most Well-Funded Fintech Companies in Hong Kong, so how did the others in that 2022 list do in terms of jobs satisfaction?
Notable, Foreign Firms Face Issues, Too
Hyphen Group, which has since rebranded to MoneyHero and appointed a new CEO, has a questionable 2.7 rating on Glassdoor overall, but its Hong Kong reviews drop to a paltry 2.1 stars. Reviews decry the “serious problems with top management” and a “questionable company direction.”
Supply chain financing platform Qupital similarly sports a 2.4 stars rating. More than one review cites “chaotic management” and “poor decision-making”, with one former employee summing up the environment as “management should improve, hire more senior & experienced techies”.
In addition to local fintechs, several companies founded elsewhere are building teams in the city. Some of these are also expanding into Singapore, and it seems that employees in Hong Kong are more welcoming of them.
European payments giant checkout.com is an example of this, with an average Glassdoor rating of 3.2 stars. While this drops considerably to 2.6 in Singapore, Hong Kong employees rate the fintech at 3.8 stars. They appreciate the “good benefits and work-life balance,” but acknowledge a “steep learning curve.”
Balancing Culture and Compensation
While company culture might be impacted by drawbacks, remuneration for fintech jobs in Hong Kong, especially for in-demand product or tech roles, may. For instance, at crypto spot trading exchange OKX, Glassdoor estimates the average pay for a product manager to be HK$450k, considerably above the city’s average of HK$100k.
At the aforementioned Hyphen Group, developers are projected to earn HK$384k, well over ten times the country’s average developer salary. In other places, good remuneration could be balanced with a thriving culture as well.
XanPool, a crypto-fiat-gateway software solution headquartered in Hong Kong, sports an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars rating, with glowing reviews that praise it’s “good salary” and good “career growth opportunities”. The XanPool team is lauded as “great colleagues”, including the technical positions with some software engineers remarking their team boasts knowledgeable, “very competent seniors to learn from, cool colleagues and a fun place to work at.”
However even the positive reviews acknowledge the closure of XanPool offices in places like Singapore and Malaysia, with around 40 workers reportedly laid off. Several 2023 reviews highlight the positive rewarding culture, but only if you are “an A Player”, which might suit young go-getters but perhaps not those with a lot of commitments or prefer work-life balance.
Web3 Firms Tout “Work Life Balance”
Similar praise was heaped on digital asset custodian Hex Trust, with a 4.1 rating and reviews that gush about the “great company culture”, “good benefits”, and being given the autonomy to take on blockchain-related tasks outside of their own specialisations.
Airwallex also subverts expectations, with Hong Kong reviewers bucking the fintech’s overall score of 3.4 stars with 4.7 stars for its HK operations. Reviews posted in 2023 hail that “the caliber of people is really high” at Airwallex, but that the cross-border payments provider is “still going through some growing pains.”
The most outstanding, however, has to be digital payment company Reap, which pulls in a perfect five stars based on at least five reviews from a mix of current and former employees — but this could also be because the size of the team is still relatively small. Some of the notable comments include “employee friendly, work life balance” and “Amazing company. Amazing management. Good pay. Family environment.”
One reviewer lamented how the small team size could be both a pro and a con, saying employees get the opportunity to “do everything” and gain “wide experience”. On the downside, workers need to be independent learners, as the lean team does not leave much room for “opportunities to specialise and not a lot of employee mentoring resources inside the company”.
Perhaps the most telling comment left by a current Reap employee is “Development of people, partnerships and profits are the important priorities to management. Collaboration and openness are valued.”
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