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Shanghai plans to increase the number of financial professionals by about 40 percent in the next five years, the city's latest attempt to turn into an international financial hub.

 

The city aims to recruit 90,000 more financial workers to take the number of the total financial work force to 320,000 in 2015, according to a five-year plan for human resources development in Shanghai's financial sector released on Monday.

 

About 70 percent of the new work force would have a bachelor's degree or above, with 15 percent of them having master's degrees, according to the plan.

 

Currently, the city boasts about 230,000 people working in the sector, which is less than 2 percent of the city's total work force. In New York, the figure is 10 percent. Of all the financial workers in Shanghai, around 2,000 have worked overseas and 3,000 studied abroad.

 

There is a concerted effort to make Shanghai an international financial center, to rival the likes of New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore.

 

But many banks and securities companies in the city have been struggling with the lack of skilled financial professionals, especially high-level management people and talented individuals specializing in a particular sector.

 

Plans are afoot to attract the world's financial powerhouses to set up their regional headquarters in the city and create more positions for talented people.

 

However, company executives have said that high taxation in China makes Shanghai less attractive, compared to Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

Walter B. Kielholz, chairman of Swiss Reinsurance Co, said in Shanghai last week that the high rate of personal income tax is acting as a deterrent to financial professionals who might have otherwise considered a career in the city.

 

For instance, income tax in Shanghai can be as high as 45 percent, against a 15 percent maximum in Hong Kong and 20 percent in Singapore. The city's authorities have long been considering preferential income tax policies of 25 percent maximum for financial professionals, but such concessions apply only to a small number of top executives.

 

Apart from tax, soft power is equally important to retain talented people, experts said.

 

A better medical care system, social insurance, and children's education services have been pledged to seasoned financial professionals from overseas, as part of the new five-year plan.

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