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Wenzhou has started a broad-ranging recruitment campaign for financial talent, offering high-level jobs with annual compensation of up to 1 million yuan ($158,400).
The campaign follows a central government decision last month to make the eastern city in Zhejiang province a "pilot zone" for reforms aimed at promoting non-official lending and diversifying financing channels.
Up to 108 positions are on offer at a wide range of local financial institutions and government agencies, including the city's financial office, commercial banks, insurance companies and securities houses.
Yao Minglong, a finance professor at Zhejiang University, said the campaign is the biggest government-organized recruitment drive in the city's history. It's intended to ease a shortage of financial talent.
"You don't often see government-initiated recruitment on this scale. It shows that the government has fully realized the problem and is trying to solve it," said Yao.
Wenzhou has many people working in the financial industry, he added, but most of them simply lend money, often in the underground market, and they lack expertise in modern finance.
Most of the jobs offered are senior. A vice-president's position at Bank of Wenzhou Co Ltd pays up to 1 million yuan a year. It requires at least 12 years of experience in commercial banks, with more than six years in mid-level management and an age of less than 45 years.
A marketing director position in the Wenzhou branch of Shenzhen Development Bank Co Ltd asks for candidates with at least five years of experience in commercial banks and pays up to 500,000 yuan a year.
The nation as a whole has a short supply of high-end professionals in the financial industry. Shanghai, for example, has said it needs at least 90,000 more experts over the next five years to fulfill its ambition of becoming a global financial hub by 2020.
While many doubt if Wenzhou can beat big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing in winning over top talent, Yao said more regulatory flexibility will give Wenzhou an edge.
"For senior managers, greater flexibility in regulation is just as, if not more, important as wages and culture," said Yao.
Still, the campaign seems unlikely to address the city's demand for talent. According to a plan that the city is about to make public, Wenzhou will have at least 30 rural financial institutions and 100 micro-credit companies with 40 billion yuan in net assets by the end of 2013.
This year alone, the city is to add 30 micro-credit companies, which extend very small loans.
Meanwhile, six private asset management companies will be set up by year-end, and a city government-led private equity fund will have raised 3 billion yuan by 2015, when finance will be the one of city's pillar industries.
The plan comes after Wenzhou won Beijing's approval on May 28 for a landmark financial pilot project that will allow residents of the coastal city to, among other things, invest privately overseas and set up loan companies.
In bringing private funds into the official banking system, Beijing is hoping that cash-starved small businesses, which are vital to employment in the world's second-largest economy, will be able to access financing more easily and cheaply.