Until now, most multinationals in China haven't done much in the way of building in-country treasury operations. Many followed a more centralized, global treasury strategy that didn't always require staff in China. But, as a few leading edge companies, such as General Electric, Intel and Honeywell, pursue a more China-specific treasury approach and realize the operating advantage local talent can provide, that's likely to change–and in a big way.

More employers are expected to tap the relatively shallow labor pool for treasury as they expand their on-the-ground capabilities in China, potentially leading over the next couple of years to a recruiting frenzy akin to the gold rush of the late 1990s in Silicon Valley. "It would be fair to say that the treasury market segment is still in its infancy," says Pui Yee Lee, director of international treasury for Honeywell International Inc.

It's a simple case of supply and demand. Normally, candidates for such jobs in emerging markets could come from the domestic banking system or large companies, but given the strict regulation and limited use of foreign currency, Chinese banks in particular have had little need to develop the kind of sophisticated treasury skill set most multinationals are accustomed to working with. Even the smallest uptick can put pressure on such a limited supply.

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