China Calling “Sea Turtles” Return With Financial Prowess and Commercial Aptitude

November 24, 20158:20 am482 views

At the recently held 13th annual conference on Cash, Treasury & Risk Management in China” organized by EuroFinance, Nathan Li, CFO & CAO of Kelly Services North Asia shared his thoughts on “Treasury talent in China”.

As multi-national companies (MNC) grow their treasury and finance operations in China, finding and retaining the right talent in China has become critically important. Because part of integration with the global treasury centre is shared language and shared skills, it’s not enough to be just a local expert anymore, nor is sending a foreign expat the answer.

One solution to the problem – used across businesses and not simply in treasury – is to attract the so-called ‘sea turtles’. That’s the nickname for Chinese nationals who have spent time abroad studying or working and then return.

Nathan believes that a talent localization strategy is an ongoing tendency for MNCs, and this strategy includes finance and treasury professionals. Partially because of a cost-cutting strategy and the increasing competitiveness of the local Chinese talent, the number of top-tier foreign executives including finance executives is on the decline over the past ten years.

See: China’s Digital Boom Creates Demand for New Breed of IT Professionals

Although some companies will continue send talent from their headquarters, the last decade has shown growth in competition from Chinese talent who are bilingual both in language and culture, and has developed their careers and skill sets within MNCs abroad or at home.

Specifically, the expectation of top-tier finance professionals is no longer only to have financial prowess but also commercial aptitude.  High level financial professionals are expected to be strategic business partner and to be a part of the business strategy development and implementation.

Nathan says that the search for top-tier finance professionals in China is tighter than ever. Many MNCs are searching for experienced, internationally-minded, local talent with experience leading the full finance function in a fast-paced market while developing a strong internal finance talent pipeline.

Providing a suitable career advancement platform and providing assistance with the settling down back in China is a critical factor for MNCs to attract overseas Chinese talent to return to China.

Kelly China has a comprehensive talent database and in-depth knowledge in many sectors and areas including banking, finance, capital marketing in China, which enables Kelly China to better understand the needs of employers and design bespoke workforce solutions and talent strategies for MNCs.

Also read: China Employment Market Trends for Q3 2015

Image credit: chinadaily.com.cn

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