Monthly Update: May 2012

Market News

There was a bit of a worrying report last month from the top 30 developers in China. 22 of them recorded negative cash flow in the last quarter of 2011 whilst the debt ratio for 13 of them has surpassed 70%, worse than the level in 2008. Some speculate that this will cause a number of the smaller private developers to fail in the coming months. Either way, there are slightly nervous times ahead for some.

Following on from this, another think tank reported that they expected China’s growth to slow to 7.5% in the previous quarter, down from 8.1%. It is being blamed on the knock on effect from the European debt crisis with rising costs for labour, raw materials and financing making things more difficult. The group urged the government to cut taxes for the nation’s companies in the face of weaker external demand.

In Hong Kong, fears of a property bubble and the fall in the stock markets have taken away a lot of confidence from buyers causing a sharp drop in residential property sales. There is evidence that sellers are already starting to offer big discounts to attract offers but even so, sales fell sharply week on week during May.

A more positive sign came from the office sector where commercial real estate investment exceeded HK$32 billion in the first 3 months of the year. CBRE reported that a more flexible lending approach from banks was the main reason for this in addition to mainland banks becoming increasingly large players in the market. The trend is expected to continue as mainland companies look to increase the Hong Kong presence and investors look to use their significant cash reserves.

Another glimmer of positive news also came from residential sales in China which have seen an increase in May, albeit at a slower pace. Second and third tier cities saw big growth year-on-year but Shenzhen and Beijing also posted a strong recovery from recent weeks. Low mortgage rates brought about by a cut in the required reserve ratio has brought liquidity to the market which should sustain a more moderate growth in coming months.

Poll Result

In May we got a big response asking you to rate your experience using recruitment consultancies. The results can be seen here:

Not surprisingly, most people were underwhelmed by their experiences. 53% of respondents rated their experience as average. Nearly a quarter of you felt your experiences were poor. Only 20% rated their experience as good or excellent. With nearly 80% of you feeling the experience has been average or worse we can safely say that recruiters working in the Asia markets (90% of respondents were based and work here) need to up their game to ensure that they are adding the value to candidates/clients that they should be. It hasn’t come as a surprise to us – on a daily basis we speak to people who tell us about their previous  poor experiences working with recruiters. The main complaints tend to be related to consultants who don’t follow up, who aren’t honest or who simply don’t have the networks or market knowledge to be able to add any value to their candidates/clients. Within the last 4 years there has been an explosion of recruitment firms heading into the Hong Kong and Asia markets, often hiring by volume rather than quality when it comes to their consultants – as a result, particularly in the technical property/construction space, there are people here who do not understand the markets in the region and do not know how to add any value. It therefore becomes a numbers game for these companies where consultants are targeted on the amount of “product” (CVs) they send out rather than monitoring the quality aspects of these consultant’s activities. It doesn’t help that the recruitment industry here is pretty much totally unregulated which allows for all manner of practices to be deemed acceptable in order to “close that deal.”

We think things need to change and will be writing an article soon for those of you who want to know what to look for if and when you select a recruitment partner – we genuinely believe there is a strong desire from candidates and clients to have a personal, honest and professional recruitment service available to them in the market. We would hope that if more consultancies aimed to offer a similar service then the results above would be more positive. Let’s see what people think in a year’s time if we run the poll again…

What’s Hot

May continues April’s busy theme with continuing referrals and exclusive agreements being made with a number of our clients.

Our newer business area in Sales, Marketing and Leasing has really taken off and we have many active needs. These range from junior leasing candidates right up to senior business leaders for some of the region’s top consultancy and developer names. In addition, we have built strong relationships with some key people in organisations that typically haven’t used recruiters allowing us to offer opportunities to candidates that they will not be presented elsewhere. We see big growth potential in this area and our reputation is growing quickly.

We are still actively looking for key interior design individuals, the majority of whom should have hotel design backgrounds. That said we also need retail and corporate people – put it this way, if we had 20 designers, with strong Mandarin language and China skills, we would probably be able to find them all opportunities. We have roles with large firms and small boutique designers – please do get in touch if you could be interested in opportunities. Within architecture we still need strong China experience candidates, ideally with a technical background (and languages I’m afraid) for roles in Hong Kong and China. Urban Design has also picked up significantly with a number of opportunities available in China, particularly Shenzhen and Shanghai.

Our project management business continues to be busy – we have new clients and new roles with some very strong developer clients from Hong Kong and China. The needs remain the same as always – good China experience, excellent language skills and willingness to be stationed in China. If you fit these 3 things, we can help you. We have really strong relationships with key decision makers, often family members, within these developers. We can add real value to your search and provide you with meaningful feedback.

Most Urgent Requirements

We have outlined below the urgent vacancies we have had through from clients over the last month.

  • Junior Interior Designer – Boutique Design Firm, Hotels
  • Marketing Assistants – for a new concept retail mall
  • Operations Manager – retail, for the same new concept Hong Kong mall
  • Office Leasing Associates – top international consultancy, corporate background preferred
  • Project Director – small Hong Kong developer with a luxury project
  • Landscape Architect – small, growing firm in Shanghai
  • Interior Design Manager – Exclusive role with a top China developer
  • Lead Architect – top tier China developer with some landmark projects currently under construction
  • Interior Design Director – Shanghai – great opportunity with a new practice in China – still needed!
  • Senior Interior Designers – Retail and Hotels – Hong Kong and China – we need people here! China experience and language will be important
  • Project Managers – anyone willing to be stationed in China on some truly epic projects!

We also have many, many more roles posted on our website and these are only an overview of our top positions at this time. Please check back regularly. The easiest way to stay up to date with our latest positions is to follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our website for more information on the above roles and our other vacancies:

http://www.ellicottlong.com/current-jobs.

If you wish to inquire about a position please send an email and your CV to apply@ellicottlong.com.

Follow us on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/ellicottlong. Please also subscribe to our blog by filling in the email subscription form on the right to stay up to date with our latest posts, updates and information.

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