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Recruitment Specialist Grows Strongly in Asia

Liam Richardson

The Hong Kong office of United Kingdom-headquartered international search and recruitment firm Pure celebrated its 10th anniversary in September. Liam Richardson, Managing Director of Pure Asia, reflects on the company’s first decade in the city, and why the time has come for a brand refresh.

Tell us about Pure Hong Kong?
The business opened on the first of September, 2008 as a strategic hub covering the Asia-Pacific region. We provide a range of recruitment solutions and help businesses locate top-tier talent in the legal, compliance, risk, tax, finance, HR [human resources] and technology sectors.

Has the office grown in that 10 years?
Definitely. From the initial opening in a serviced office 10 years ago, we moved to our own office in The Center, with a team of 25 recruitment professionals in Hong Kong (and seven in Singapore), with ambitious plans for growth over the course of 2019. Those plans include a new office next year, as we are on the verge of outgrowing our current space. Also, our business initially had a legal focus, and has grown to the seven disciplines mentioned above. We are always looking for additional areas in which to support our clients.

Any noticeable changes in the executive recruitment sector in Hong Kong over the past decade?
We’ve witnessed a maturing of the recruitment industry as a whole. The trend towards recruitment process outsourcing has led to more competition in this space, and with it the need to develop long-term relationships with clients.
We’ve also seen the emergence of a more established contract market. Whereas 10 years ago there was something of a stigma associated with short-term contracts, companies and candidates alike are more willing to accept them as a solution to employment needs.

The years following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis years also led to substantial growth in the compliance sector, along with associated control functions (compliance and risk).

In tandem, there’s been a trend to hire more local candidates, or at least candidates with fluent Mandarin. The exception to this is the technology sector, which is emerging at a rapid rate in Hong Kong. This demand sees IT [information technology] talent from all over the globe, especially for those in emerging tech, such as cloud and fintech.

How has Pure responded to those changes?
Pure’s 10-year presence in the city equips us to respond to market pressure by delivering a higher level of service. Within each of our disciplines we have people with over a decade of experience, and long-term client relationships allowing them to access high-level work. We’ve particularly focused on our governance team (legal, compliance and risk) to support our clients, and 12 months ago we launched our technology practice, which is the first of its kind globally for Pure. (Apart from London and Hong Kong, Pure has offices in Singapore, Berlin and New York).

We’ve also invested in our own technology. As a firm, we’ve gone cloud-based, brought in a new CRM [client relationship management] tool which is globally linked, giving our team smarter, quicker access to the global candidate pool. We’ve also developed our Chinese language skills. Now, more than 70% of [people in] the Hong Kong office are multilingual.

Why was it time for a brand refresh?
For search and recruitment firms to compete effectively it is vital that we both act and look the part of a leader in our industry. What our new brand does is bring us in line with that visually.

Of course, a brand is about more than a visual identity. We have looked at the tone of our communication to allow us to express our personality and our values: Pure passion, Pure commitment, Pure know-how and Pure clarity. We have adapted and upgraded our operational model, office environments and internal HR processes. And we have big plans to invest in our digital assets. What we have now is a brand that enhances our reputation and builds on it for the future.

Where to from here for Pure Hong Kong?
With the growing contract market in Asia we will leverage Hong Kong to serve our clients on their interim needs; continue to invest in the disciplines we have established; and look at increasing our footprint in the Asian region, whether that be in China , Japan or Australia.

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