Exciting career prospects and beaches on your doorstep: could Sydney become banking’s new choice destination? Morgan McKinley Australia joint managing director Louise Langridge explains why Sydney is an ideal destination for job seekers looking for a flourishing financial services career with a work-life balance.

One of the many bonuses of a career in financial services is the potential to take your talent anywhere in the world, and progress your career while experiencing another culture and lifestyle. But for individuals considering international opportunities, relocating to Sydney is an option perhaps overlooked in favour of a move to one of the major Asian powerhouse cities such as Hong Kong or Shanghai. However, despite being a less high-profile financial centre in the global stakes, Sydney’s current economic position means it offers exciting prospects to those with the right skills set. For a start,

Louise Langridge
Louise Langridge

Australia as a whole was not as negatively impacted by the global financial crisis as other developed economies, and although it did lead to a conservative approach to hiring, business and consumer confidence in the market has returned significantly. Banks are now reporting record profits in a number of cases and this has translated to more growth initiatives and an increase in hiring across the board. And although the country has traditionally had tight visa regulations, opportunities for foreign nationals are much easier to come by now than they have been in the past. Under the previous Labor government the 241 visa restrictions meant that any job had to be advertised locally before it was opened to overseas employees. However this has been relaxed by the current coalition government and Australian businesses are now more open to candidates from other countries.

So what opportunities exist in financial services?

A recent ANZ report states that the vast growth in capital markets and cross-border banking activity promised in the Asian Century could enable Sydney to emerge as a regional financial hub. As well as its geographic location, the report reveals Australia has the fourth largest domestic funds management pool in the world, at $1.5 trillion US dollars. This means that developing a highly-skilled adaptable workforce with international experience will be high on the agenda, opening up opportunities to foreign employees.

As the banking industry in Australia continues to be reformed, it is becoming more and more important for financial services organisations to have the right people in the areas of risk and compliance.  Regulations such as Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) and Stronger Super are requiring banks to hire individuals to deal with the necessary legislative changes. As the Basel 3 implementation potentially transforms into Basel 4, regulatory requirements will force a major structural change within many organisations and individuals experienced in this sphere will become more and more sought after.

As we stated in our 2014 Morgan McKinley Economic Outlook report, some economists are predicting a 3% growth for the country’s economy in the next year, a significant uplift on 2013. And as the positive economic news inspires confidence within businesses, the conservative hiring strategy has given way to the big domestic players executing more daring growth plans. These include investing in technology and bringing new innovative products to the market. These factors, combined with the recent skills shortage which is occurring in the country, means financial services companies are looking to overseas employees to plug the gaps in their technical roles.

As we progress through 2014, we expect this trend of positive growth to continue and with the forecast of a falling dollar, it will give businesses a further confidence boost. In turn, increased growth is likely to lead to a wealth of opportunities in strategy, project and change management.

While Sydney offers great opportunities for individuals with the appropriate technical skills, it’s worth considering the practical implications of living and working in the city too. Sydney is ranked as one of the world’s most expensive places to live according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Index which is compiled by The Economist’s intelligence unit. And while it certainly is more expensive than some of the previously mentioned Asian cities, the salary packages are generally higher as a reflection of this. Inflation has slowed since the financial crisis and high prices are more of an issue for tourists than those working in Sydney and benefitting from its economy.

For UK expats considering a move, Sydney also has obvious cultural advantages. As well as great career opportunities, there is a fantastic work life balance with beaches on your doorstep and a particularly attractive outdoor lifestyle, which is perhaps lacking in other cities in the APAC region.

So while many financial services candidates are focusing China, Hong Kong and Singapore for their big move, the economic and cultural advantages of Sydney may well see it become a more popular destination in the next few years.

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