Crypto companies may seem to be preparing to enter Hong Kong with unbridled excitement, but this has yet to translate into in-country hires, according to recruitment executives.
On June 1, around 150 companies lined up for a local crypto license that allows the operation of a local crypto trading platform. Some have even reportedly spent up to $25 million to get one.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Sue Wei, managing director of major recruitment firm Hays, said that while exchanges are looking to establish a base in Hong Kong, the industry’s recruitment needs are “light at the moment.”
“Many Web3 companies are still in the early stages of development, but we expect an increase in openings as they continue to scale and mature.”
In fact, Wei said that since the collapse of the crypto market, his company has seen a “significant decrease in requests for recruiting technical talent.”
This is particularly the case when talent is “massively fired,” making some hesitant to work for a crypto company “due to the unstable nature of the business that relies on crypto prices,” he said.
Similarly, crypto recruiter Cryptorecruit founder Neil Dundon said he didn’t “really notice a lot going on in Hong Kong.”
“Although the rules have changed, venture activity is very low now,” he said. “Even though we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom, and I expect it will start to improve from here.”
Michael Page Hong Kong’s managing director, Olga Yung, also said that she has not seen “a significant increase” in Web3 job seekers despite the recent government push.
However, Yung noted a “slight increase” in Web3 companies seeking “legal and compliance hires” in mid to late Q2 2023.
The war of talent is coming
Looking ahead, Kevin Gibson, founder of Web3 recruitment firm Proof of Search, told Cointelegraph that it could take six months for crypto talent to ramp up in the region as companies wait for approvals to license.
“A lot of specialist talent has left Hong Kong in recent years,” Gibson explained. He said the local talent pool is thin, and companies that land in Hong Kong “will find themselves in an intense battle for talent.”
Setting up in Hong Kong requires significant roles that can be full-time positions. Gibson thinks a “talent squeeze” will continue until 2024 as Web3 companies “may look to move headquarters to a pro-crypto jurisdiction if things go to plan. “
The latest data for the city’s demographics shows a negative population growth rate since 2020. Employment statistics for Q1 2023 show the number of vacancies increased by almost 38% compared to the same during last year.
Yung added that the main challenge is “attracting talent with an interest in these sectors” as many candidates are risk averse due to the “current market sentiment.”
Related: Hong Kong has established a task force to promote the development of Web3
On the other hand, Neil Tan, chair of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong, said that he “met many people who have recently moved from TradFi to crypto.”
Tan said many are approached directly by crypto firms, while others use sites like LinkedIn to find roles.
“TradFi continues to drop in numbers every year or two,” added Tan, “so stability is not necessarily as attractive as it used to be.”
“Many people are saying that there is a lot of positive news within the crypto and Web3 space in Hong Kong that they are willing to take.”
Asia Express: Huobi sues … Huobi? 3AC rose from the ashes, Korea crypto contagion