There is a fairly prevalent theory that the best time to start a new business is during a recession/depression. I buy that. During tough times, established companies often disappear, get overly cautious, and lay off scads of good people, who can be hired relatively cheaply. During tough times, big shifts can occur. A few months ago, I pretty much scoffed at the idea of Shanghai becoming a financial capital, in a post, entitled, “Shanghai To Replace New York As World’s Financial Center. I Don’t Think So.” Though I certainly am not convinced, I certainly am not scoffing either. To use a bad pun (particularly during this bear market), China is grabbing the bull by the horns and seems to be boldly making moves to increase its worldwide standing as a financial center.
My best friend from college, attorney-editor-author, Jacob Margolies (b/k/a “THE Cob”) was kind enough to send me the notes from his interview of some of the people who came from Shanghai to help lead a group of Chinese financial companies who had traveled to London, Chicago, and New York in search of bi-lingual Chinese-English financial talent (strongly focusing on Chinese nationals).
Jacob’s notes are as follows:
By the way, no US press attended this event only Chinese and Japanese
(maybe 6 reporters in all)
Shanghai Job Fair Press conference-December 13 at Sheraton LaGuardia
East hotel in Flushing Queens
Dali Mao, deputy director General — Shanghai Bureau of Human resources
and Social Security:
(He introduces the delegation members and welcomes everyone and thanks them for coming to learn more about Shanghai)
We started our trip on December 5. Our first destination was London.
On December 6 we held a similar event to this in London and on
December 9 we held another one in Chicago and this today is the last
event of our trip. We have two main objectives for this trip. The
first is to welcome potential candidates to come to Shanghai since the
city is trying to build itself into an international center of
economy, finance, trade and shipping center in the world. The second
purpose is to take this opportunity to meet with Chinese students and
those Chinese who have been working abroad and learn about their
current situation. This is part of our regular work. That is a brief
Q: According to one report, 27 companies from Shanghai are
participating in this event. Can I ask how many people are you going
to employ and how is the reaction of the applicants?
A: Actually 19 financial institutions from Shanghai came with us on
this trip and another 10 financial institutions of Shanghai put up
their vacancies for them. They did not actually come on the trip. We
have 170 mid-level to high level job vacancies that we brought over in
the financial area. And we also brought over job information on about
1,000 non-financial job vacancies.
Among those 170 positions, it covers jobs in banking, insurance, asset
management and pension insurance.
This event has received very positive feedback from the Chinese
overseas applicants and also from the media.
Nearly 1000 turned out to the event in London. 200 turned out in
Chicago. And according to our very initial calculation already 400
have registered for today’s event. (note it seems over 1000 attended
in NY judging from the large crowds)
This is the biggest event ever organized by the Shanghai municipality
in terms of financial human resources (HR) exchange to set up a
platform for companies to participate in international HR exchange.
Q: (from Taiwan media) Was the trip planned before or after the
financial crisis? And what has been the response of laid-off
financial people abroad to this event?
A: This event is part of our regular work. Shanghai has set a
development goal to be an international center for economics, finance,
trade and shipping in the world. This has been, our so called
4-center strategy, since 1992. In order to build an international
city, you need talent from all over the world. We need financial
talent from all over the world. So this event just happened
coincidentally with the financial crisis. We did similar things
before. We had a similar event in 2002 and earlier.
So far we have received very positive response from the applicants
whether or not they had been laid-off. Generally they want to learn
about the situation in Shanghai. Rather than just a job fair, it is a
kind of information exchange event for those who want to have career
development in China and Shanghai.
Sheng Yu Rao-Deputy Director (Division of Human Resources)
Before our departure from Shanghai, we did a lot of preparation to
ensure a proper result We did not just put out job information but
also worked to enhance overseas Chinese knowledge about Shanghai
and also upgrade the local institutions and help them to have better
knowledge of the needs of overseas Chinese professionals. We have
strengthened contacts and channels with overseas Chinese
Our initial results have been very positive not just from the people
who showed up but also from the overseas financial institutions who
told us they appreciate us for organizing this event. This has
deepened knowledge about Shanghai. There was a lot of detailed
preparation work to make it easy for the applicants to find a match.
We brought over 12,800 documents, not only about the job openings but
also about the financial institutions of Shanghai and also about
recent developments of Shanghai’s financial industry. And we have
provided contact details for these institutions so overseas Chinese
can have further contact with these institutions. This is a good
opportunity to open and broaden mutual exchange channels with overseas
By way of comparison, we did this in 2002 and then brought 7 companies
and had 50 job openings for the financial service bureau. So you can
see that the scale is quite different this time. It is a big
difference today. Just in terms of quantity it is much higher than
Weimao Huang-Director General Secretary (Station chief) Shanghai
Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security:
The issue of returnees, Chinese students studying abroad, is an issue
that the Shanghai municipality attaches great importance to.
Currently we have over 70,000 returnees in Shanghai. We have been
doing our best to attract Chinese students overseas back. Since 2003
we started the so-called 10,000 convergence program-aiming to attract
10,000 students back in 3 years time. And so far annually there have
been about 5000 Chinese students from overseas returning to China and
they have done a great job in adding to the local economic and social
Almost every year we organize some kind of event to enhance contact
with overseas Chinese professionals. In short, we expect more overseas
Chinese to come back to Shanghai to support the economic and social
development and we will provide them opportunities to realize their
career ambitions.
[Mr. Huang invites you all to Shanghai to learn about this overseas
Chinese and career development.]
Q: Has the financial crisis in NY or London affected this trip? Have
businesses in Shanghai decided not to hire that previously had been
planning on participating in this event?
Mao: The China market is pretty normal still and development remains
the key theme and that includes developing a financial center in
Shanghai. So in terms of this event, we do not see any negative impact
at all in terms of the recruiting side.
Q: How are pay and benefits compared to US and Europe in financial
services industry?
Mao It varies depending on the institution.
Q: Can you hire laid-off Wall Street workers at a lower cost now?
Huang: We will not reduce our pace or speed because of the financial
crisis in building a financial center in Shanghai. We still have
dozens of companies coming here to recruit which reflects that the
financial industry in Shanghai is still in quite good shape.
We are very serious about this event and you can see we put out very
detailed job descriptions in terms of job titles the institutions have
listed jobs in development strategy, asset management, working with
financial derivatives, and also for IT jobs.
In terms of salary, we have jobs hiring for up to 1.5 million rmb
which I think is roughly $220,000 dollars.
What do you think?
PS Sorry to keep hawking for votes, but I am pleased to say we have taken the lead in the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Best Law Blogs competition and I would certainly appreciate your going here and voting China Law Blog.

Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog ( Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.