By Simon Mortlock, eFinancialCareers

ICBC International has made a senior Hong-Kong based equities hire as Chinese banks flex their muscles in a sector where Western banks have been paring back.

Rachel Chan has joined ICBC as an executive director, following a three-year stint in Chinese and Hong Kong equities for Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), according to her online profile.

Chan’s career started in 2007 when she joined BNP Paribas in an institutional equity sales role. She stayed at BNP in Hong Kong for four years before moving to the local office of Australian boutique Argonaut Securities, where she worked for 12 months as an equity salesperson focused on natural resources.

Equities professionals with experience of Chinese stocks are generally sought after in Hong Kong. Rising demand is being fuelled by the stock connect programmes, continued liberalisation of China’s securities market, and index publisher MSCI’s landmark decision last year to include China-listed shares in its emerging-markets benchmark.

Chinese firms are driving much of the current equities hiring, however, in the wake of cutbacks by Western rivals in Hong Kong over the past three years.

Credit Suisse culled dozens from its Asian equities operations last year after a slump in revenues. Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, CLSA, Nomura, CIMB and Jefferies have also cut jobs, while Standard Chartered shuttered its entire Asian equities unit in 2015. As we noted this February, 2017 equities bonuses at US and European banks – with the exception of Citi – were disappointing.

While Chinese firms have taken on some of the equities traders, salespeople and researchers that Western banks have axed, they still mainly hire equities staff from each other – as they do in other front-office functions in Hong Kong.

Chan’s current and former banks, ICBC and ABC (the world’s first and third largest banks by assets, respectively), are at the forefront of this battle for talent. As we reported last month, fixed-income specialist Fanky Miu has recently moved in the opposite direction to Chan. He left ICBC to join ABC as head of fixed income.