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The Hunt Hiring Report Q1 2007

The Hunt Hiring Report Q1 2007

We have been amazed at the market momentum going from a strong 2006 and carrying us into a strong first quarter of 2007. We continue to be optimistic for remainder of this year, but expect corporations to take a slight breather by the end of this year, looking for returns on their human capital investments over the past 24 months. We do have some minor concerns about the macro economic outlook, with the U.S. possibly going into recession by years end. Overall, the senior level positions are in a strong upward trajectory, and our clients continue to look for strong and experienced cross cultural (Asian) senior management.

GROWTH SECTORS

We are guardedly bullish towards: private equity, financial services, legal, management/accounting consultancies, insurance, retail, manufacturing, consumer, pharmaceuticals/medical, environmental, gaming/hospitality, CSR/IR, and the New Media opportunities. The big area of improvement has been the technology sector, with many telco service providers hiring, and the “box movers” even coming to life again despite their very low margins.

VIETNAM

Greater China, Singapore and India continue to be the main focus of growth, but some of these neighboring developing countries are also up and coming. Vietnam seems to be the country of “choice” in 2007, with many companies investing heavily in manufacturing and services. Vietnam is becoming the “hedge” against China and Malaysia manufacturing centers. One very high profile U.S. semiconductor company is relocating its whole factory from Penang into Vietnam. We hear similar stories on a daily basis, and clients are constantly inquiring about talent in this market. We encourage all overseas Vietnamese Nationals to contact us for possible opportunities.

INDIA

India continues to be a bright spot and is expected to register a growth rate of 10+ percent in FY 2007. The growth trend was led by positive movements across sectors, in manufacturing and services. Real Estate is a hot area of growth and the Private Equity firms have continued to invest in people as well. Hiring has been very strong – at all levels, and across all industries. The big story in India as it is in China is the consumer spending. (As a side note, a Goldman Sachs report states that among Brazil, Russia, India and China, India will grow the fastest over the next 30 to 50 years by leveraging its demographic advantages and through continued development. At its present rates of growth, the burgeoning market in the country "would be adding nearly one France every 3.5 years and one Australia every year").


CHINA


The big story in China continues to be retention of talent and salary inflation. Salaries have been going through the roof. Senior Director and above salaries are almost on par with Singapore and approaching Hong Kong levels. As this happens, the competition for talent in China will be even more intense, which will likely have a knock-on effect into markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The Chinese MNC’s have also continued to grow and expand outside of China, and this is providing many opportunities for exportation of assignments globally.

Hong Kong is experiencing a very robust growth cycle. Hiring is very strong across the board. This is primarily due to the roaring financial services, real estate, general services and hospitality sectors. Hong Kong recently reported a 55 billion dollar budget surplus, and unemployment is now under 4 percent. For those wine lovers, duties have been halved, so this alone reflects how vibrant the economy is.

SINGAPORE

Singapore has been booming for 24 months now and is growing in the financial services, real estate, technology, gaming/hospitality and professional services sectors. They have stolen many an executive and MNC headquarters here in Asia from Hong Kong. This is primarily due to the increased air pollution in Hong Kong and incredibly high housing prices. However, Singapore is also getting appreciably expensive with regards to housing recently as well. We expect Singapore to continue on a strong growth track throughout this year.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

The strong demand for talent in the financial markets continued through the Q1 of 2007. Despite the recent equity market pull-back, indications are for the market to continue its talent expansion particularly in equity, derivatives, asset management, wealth management, investment banking and alternative investments. Bonuses were once again very strong, in some cases record payouts, for the past year. As a result of record or “near record” profits, we see evidence of new business lines and strategies that will emerge in 2007 as investment banks are in a favorable position to make capital commitments and the Asian markets still show promise.

However, we do feel that investment banks may become more hesitant to make increasingly hefty up-front guarantees to compensate the give-up of annual bonuses as 2007 carries on – simply a factor of our belief that candidates may set their expectations too high given the bonuses recently paid out. On the other hand, investment banks may be skeptical that the exuberance that accompanied the financial markets on the back of record equity prices will see some correction this year, and therefore a possible knock-on effect on IPOs and trading volumes.

With the funds raised from institutional clients for private equity, real estate and hedge funds, there is an ongoing need for deal teams as well as the functional support positions. This should continue throughout the year as there is no evidence that this money flow into Asia will stop from North America, Europe and the Middle East. Also, the increasing need for investments from retail investors in Asia and abroad will continue to keep the talent hunt for successful fund managers strong.

Overall we think the employment market will be good, and do not see an immediate down turn in the region. That is not an overly optimistic view, as there are always challenges (pollution, environmental disasters, pandemics, etc) but we remain confident in Asia’s continued growth this year and next.

Hunt Partners continues to be the leader in Asian Executive Search. Our areas of expertise cover:
* Technology
* Financial Services
* Consumer
* Industrial
* Professional Services
* Logistics/Supply Chain
* General Manufacturing

For more information please contact Jeff Stryker at jstryker@ap.hunt-partners.com
Hunt Partners

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