More Chinese fund houses are looking to set up shop in Hong Kong. Sources say Beijing-based  China Asset Management (ChinaAMC), the leading fund house in China, is preparing to open an office in Hong Kong and build a team for overseas investments, according to sources; while Guangzhou-based E-Fund has received a license from the Hong Kong Securities & Futures Commission.

China Southern Fund Management set up an office in Exchange Square in July. 

Senior officials at ChinaAMC are said to be looking to hire a team as large as 20 for areas such as research, investment management, trading and compliance. Existing staff related to international business development in Beijing will handle sales and client service for qualified foreign institutional investors (QFIIs). ChinaAMC executives declined to comment.

QFII is regarded as an important source of new revenue for China's fund-management industry, given a widely held perception overseas that China's economy is most likely to return to growth first. Fund houses are winning mandates not just from global fund houses with A-share quotas, but from overseas insurance companies and pension funds, as well as from sovereign wealth funds.

Interest from the Middle Eastern and the sovereign wealth fund sector is positive but so far lukewarm. Business from foreign university endowment funds -- a key sector receiving QFII approvals from the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange -- is close to non-existent as more universities are tapping into their own alumni network in their search for investment managers.

Even in this climate, however, hiring won't be straightforward. A headhunter in Hong Kong says the most valuable hires are 'sea turtles', Chinese nationals working in the West. More of these are returning to Asia but the pool is still finite. So the firm is likely to look at a broad range of CVs.