The Nation: Thai firms capitalizing on global lay-offs
27 February 2009
Although Thai financial institutions have seemingly weathered the current global economics storm, many highly paid professionals, especially in the fixed-income sector of international financial institutions, haven’t been so lucky.
During the past six months financial institutions that sold fixed-income derivative instruments have laid off people all over the region, including Thailand.
The Nation has learned that in addition to failed investment banks Lehman Bros and Bear Stearns, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered Bank. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank have laid off many highly paid bankers in South Eas6t Asia since the global economic crisis exploded in late September.
In Hong Kong, many bankers with children were sent home right after Christmas and international school wait lists have dwindled down to almost zero.
Here in Thailand, the redundancies of highly paid fixed-income finance professionals have created a crisis in that employment sector.
But many Thai “Main Street” businesses are seeing it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to hire much-needed finance professionals.
“Large Thai public and private companies are now fighting to get these top finance professionals on board,” said Edwin Sim, CEO of Human Capital Alliance.
Sim said that normally highly paid finance professionals with as much as a decade or more of experience working for top international banks would be hesitant about joining large local companies.
Although the world economies are currently going through a rough patch, Sim said that most large Thai company operators believe that globalization will continue when economies inevitably recover.
“They realize that to operate successfully and sustainably in the coming decade all companies must be able to develop efficient capital structure that will allow them to compete globally,” he said.
These capital structures, Sim said, require the expertise of finance professionals that have honed their skills with the world’s top financial institutions. “Thai companies realize that the current economic crisis has created a “perfect storm” for them to attract individual high level financial professional with these unique skills,” he said.
At the same time, many of these experienced finance professionals, Sim said, are now finally able to get off a decade-long financial institution wage-bubble that made many of them “hostage” to their jobs, with work weeks that often surpassed 60 to 70 hours. “The money was great and many were willing to sacrifice their quality of life,” he said.
However, the current global economic crisis is forcing many finance institution professionals to rethink their futures. “Many firmly believe that the Thai economy is on the cusp of being one of the region’s most dynamic economies.
They want to get on board now and reap the benefits by helping Thai companies become global players,” he said.
During the past decade, Sim says, many Thai companies strengthened their corporate governance and risk-management initiatives as a result of the 1997 Asian crisis. Consequently, they have much more sustainable operating platforms, which closely follow international standards.
“Top finance company professionals are now attracted because they can see that many companies are now adopting corporate strategies that include sustainability as a core issue,” he said.
These companies, Sim adds, now have a much broader understanding of the industrial system in which they operate, including a broad range of relevant factor, trends, forces and interactions.
“Thai companies now are willing to pay for high quality people with a deep system-based understanding of how the global economy, environment, society and geopolitics interact and affect organizations,” he said.
Perhaps, just as importantly, Sim said, many Thai companies are now in a position where they can accommodate these professionals’ compensation and lifestyle requirements.