Banks are being more selective in their hiring in Hong Kong 2022, but there is strong demand for talent to focus on advising clients on environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related deals.
Banks are taking differing approaches as they look to beef up their ESG advisory expertise in Hong Kong and China, establishing dedicated teams as well as deploying their existing crop of sector bankers.
For banks, ESG business has broadened beyond green bond issuance to advising clients on how they switch their portfolios and business models, resulting in the acquisition of companies offering new technologies and the disposal of fossil fuel assets.
Some banks have created new positions to cater for this demand. UBS, for example has appointed Brendan Tu to the newly-created role as head of ESG advisory for APAC, based in Hong Kong. Tu reports to Laurent Bouvier, global head of ESG advisory in London and locally to Gaetano Bassolino, head of global banking for APAC. Tu has rejoined UBS after three years as chief investment officer of Foxconn Industrial Internet.
Meanwhile, Citigroup has named Raphael Erasmus as the newly-created head of sustainability and corporate transitions (SCT) within its banking capital markets and advisory (BCMA) group in Asia Pacific, according to a statement. Citi established SCT as a global team led by Keith Tuffley and Bridget Fawcett in 2020.
Erasmus has relocated from London to Singapore where she reports to APAC head of BCMA Jan Metzger, Singapore country officer Amol Gupte as well as Tuffley. Additionally, last October, Citi appointed William Pang to the new position of Head of Natural Resources & Clean Energy Transition (NRCET) Investment Banking Asia.
Citi’s BCMA unit posted record revenues in APAC in 2021, raising over US$34 billion for Hong Kong clients in the capital markets, of which a third was ESG-related, Angel Ng, the bank’s CEO for Hong and Macau said in a memo.
Being the head of a ESG advisory unit acts as a focal point for a bank’s efforts, but the reality is that banks are pushing most of the responsibility onto its sector teams and at banks like Citi and Bank of America, all front office bankers are expected to serve clients through an ESG lens. “We have hundreds of bankers looking at ESG,” said one source at Citi. ESG affects clients across the board, so banks are keen that all staff are able to act as ESG champions.
Banks like Citigroup and HSBC have long-standing corporate lending relationships where the onus is on the bank to help clients to transition to net-zero. HSBC established a global ESG solutions unit in 2020, led by Hong Kong-based Jonathan Drew.
For banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which focus more on generating deal-flow, ESG coverage – for now - remains within industry teams. “We don’t want to create silos, we’re all ESG bankers now,” said a source at one western investment bank.
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