Working in an Asian vs foreign bank


Not that different after all

There is a common misconception that there is a huge difference in pace and culture between Asian and foreign multinational banks. However, with the tables turned post global financial crisis, some Asian banks have aggressively expanded, invested in product suites and platforms, and hired some strong foreign talent – leading to a strong competitive edge over foreign banks.


With Asia being the key driver of economic growth across the world, now may be a good time to consider opportunities in an Asian bank.

Cultural challenges

Asian banks have a multicultural way of looking at things, and are often much stronger in key economies like China as compared to their foreign counterparts. In fact, there is an increasing demand in both Asian and foreign banks for professionals with strong Asian experience. In an increasingly competitive and even saturated market, local networks become crucial to an individual’s success. Gone are the days when one could smoothly talk oneself into a deal. Now, knowledge and experience of the Asian context is essential to all banking professionals.

Asian banks are mostly on par or close to what foreign banks can offer.

The good and the bad

Asian banks are increasingly popular for their stability and healthy balance sheets. While some may still view them as conservative and slow, they are extremely popular for their strong regional presence, avoidance of retrenchment, and their ability to inspire more client confidence in the Asian markets. This means good opportunities for banking professionals, and more and more foreign bank talent are moving over to these upcoming employers.

Foreign banks are often regarded as better employers for their higher remunerations and wider range of opportunities. There is no doubt that some Asian bank salaries will remain lower than the foreign banks, particularly on the investment banking front. However, for most other parts of the banking business, Asian banks are mostly on par or close to what foreign banks can offer.

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