How to quit your banking job in Asia without losing face


Job hopping is still rife in Singapore and Hong Kong banking, but it pays to quit your role in the right way. The cities’ financial sectors aren’t large enough to guarantee that you won’t be working alongside your colleagues – or even your boss – in the future.

“Always assume, especially in Asia, that one day you will again meet the people you’re leaving – and you may need something from them,” says Fabrice Desmarescaux, Southeast Asia managing partner at search firm Eric Salmon & Partners.

Here’s how to tell your boss that you’re leaving, without burning any bridges.

Hold off with that letter

In the job-hopping world of Asian financial services too many people treat resignation as an impersonal box-ticking exercise. “Never just hand over a formal resignation letter up front – always have a one-to-one talk with your boss before you do,” says Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Corporate Coaching Services in Singapore. “Give the boss the chance to hear it from you, before you become ‘paperwork’ yourself to them.”

Show some appreciation

Your boss may view your departure as a loss of face – a personal affront to their leadership – so try to allay these fears when you meet. Managers tend to feel defensive about resignations, explains Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre in Singapore. “So towards the start of the meeting show your appreciation for your boss and make them feel they’re not at fault. For example, point out how you value the learning opportunities they’ve given you,” he adds.

Don’t indulge in a debate

If your manager chooses to challenge your resignation with some aggressive questioning, it’s best not to get involved in an argument – neutral responses work best. “You can’t stop what others say about you – it’s how you react that’s most important. Reinforce that you understand their situation, but if they’re still very aggressive, it’s best to acknowledge how they feel and then walk away,” says Koh.

Be honest about job security

If a lack of job security at your current bank is a factor for you leaving, be open about it, advises Mark Sparrow, APAC managing director at search firm NP Group. “Employers will typically understand this and if they can’t provide adequate answers then they can’t expect people to stay with them anyway.”

Be strong

“I’ve seen candidates accept counter offers just because they’re too frightened to say no to their manager,” says Sparrow. “Inevitably they still end up leaving within six months – the trust is generally broken and the relationship is never the same. So be courageous when you’ve made a choice to leave.”

Don’t badmouth

Dwelling on negative reasons for leaving isn’t advisable. “Focus on the positives of your move – skills, career, location, family – not the bad things about your present situation. Don’t mention money, don’t badmouth, don’t whine,” says Desmarescaux.


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