Hong Kong crypto license rush has yet to translate into jobs: recruiters

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Crypto firms may appear to have been preparing for entry into Hong Kong with unrelenting enthusiasm, but that has yet to translate to in-country hiring, according to hiring managers.

On June 1, around 150 companies lined up for a local crypto license that allows the operation of a local crypto trading platform. Some would even have spent up to $25 million to grab one.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Sue Wei, chief executive of major staffing firm Hays, said that while exchanges were looking to establish a base in Hong Kong, the industry’s recruitment needs “are light at the moment”.

“Many Web3 businesses are still in the early stages of development, but we expect openings to increase as they continue to grow and mature.”

In fact, Wei said that since the drop in the crypto market, his company has seen a “significant decrease in requests for technical talent recruitment.”

This was especially the case when talent was “mass laid off,” which made some reluctant to work at a crypto firm “due to the unstable nature of the business which relies primarily on crypto prices.” , she said.

Similarly, the founder of crypto recruiter Cryptorecruit, Neil Dundon, said he “didn’t really notice much in Hong Kong.”

“Even though the rules have changed, venture capital activity is extremely low right now,” he said. “Although we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom, and I expect that to start going up from here.”

Michael Page Hong Kong’s managing director, Olga Yung, also said she has yet to see a “significant increase” in the number of people looking for jobs on the Web3 despite recent government pressure. .

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However, Yung noted a “slight increase” in Web3 companies seeking “legal and compliance hires” in the middle to late second quarter of 2023.

The talent war is coming

Looking ahead, Kevin Gibson, founder of recruitment firm Web3 Proof of Search, told Cointelegraph that it could take six months for crypto talent to surge into the region as companies wait for licensing approvals. .

“A lot of specialist talent has left Hong Kong in recent years,” Gibson explained. He said the local talent pool is thin and companies landing in Hong Kong “will find themselves in an extreme war for talent.”

Moving to Hong Kong requires key roles to be full-time positions. Gibson thinks a “talent squeeze” will continue through 2024, as Web3 companies “will likely look to move their headquarters to a pro-crypto jurisdiction if things go according to plan.”

The last data for the city’s demographics show a negative population growth rate since 2020. Statistics for the first quarter of 2023 show that the number of vacancies increased by almost 38% compared to the same period last year.

The vacancy rate in Hong Kong has shown an upward trend since mid-2021. Source: Department of Census and Statistics

Yung added that the main challenge is “to attract talent interested in these sectors” as many candidates are risk averse given the “current market sentiment”.

Related: Hong Kong sets up task force to advance Web3 development

On the other hand, Neil Tan, Chairman of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong, said he had “met several people who recently moved from TradFi to crypto.”

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Tan said many are approached directly by crypto firms, while others use sites such as LinkedIn to find roles.

“TradFi continues to downsize every year or two,” Tan added, “so stability isn’t necessarily as attractive as it used to be.”

“A lot of people are saying that there is so much positive news inside the crypto and Web3 space in Hong Kong that they are ready to take a chance.”

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