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Banks in Singapore Continue Hiring Despite Slow Economy

October 20, 2016

While Global banks are slashing positions in Asia, especially into investment banking, the Singaporean banks show positive hiring sentiments during the current economic slowdown. The banks in Singapore have posted out thousands of vacancies, mainly into compliance and information technology – the most in-demand skills in the industry today.

Several banks told The Business Times that while hiring activity might not be as strong as last year, there are many banks in Singapore that are still looking for new employees.

DBS, South-east Asia’s largest bank, and Citi, the largest foreign bank employer in Singapore, have posted about 600 vacancies each, Asia One Business reports. This positive news of active hiring in Banks across Asia has not made headlines yet, while there have been reports doing rounds of layoffs in several sectors, as the economic gloom deepens.

The resident unemployment rate has not risen sharply but it did reach 3 percent in June, exceeding the range of 2.6 to 2.9 percent for the first time in five years. Reports of job cuts in the banking sector were mainly into investment banking that is seeing competition from Chinese banks and dearth of deals.

According to recent report by Bloomberg, Bank of America plans to cut about a dozen senior positions at its corporate and investment banking operations in Asia, for the second-consecutive time this year. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is also looking at reducing its headcount in Asia by laying off 30 percent of its workforce.

“The compliance and anti-money laundering space in financial services is still buoyant due to increased regulatory requirements, so candidates in this area are still getting fair pay raises to move,” said James Rushworth, Managing Director of Profile Search & Selection.

See: Employees in the Banking Sector in Singapore Worried About Layoffs in an Uncertain Economy

Citi Singapore, one of the largest banking employers in the region that currently employs 9,200 people is looking to add new talent in various roles across the Citi franchise.  Jorge Osorio, Citi Singapore country head of human resources told Asia One, “In total we have posted more than 600 job openings to date. Some of the openings include opportunities in consumer sales and marketing, technology and cybersecurity as well as regulatory roles such as risk, internal audit and compliance.”

A spokeswoman for DBS said towards the end of August that the bank had some 200 vacancies for the Singapore franchise and 400 others for all its markets combined. While some of the areas continue to hire for consumer banking and key support functions such as technology and operations, as well as risk management. The bank overall is looking for talent well-versed with technology such as data scientists, UX/UI (user experience and interface) designers, programmers and those with knowledge of cloud computing.

Meanwhile, Julius Baer Group, a global Swiss private bank steps up hiring in Hong Kong and Singapore with extreme optimism. Boris Collardi, Chief Executive Officer of the Julius Baer Group told Straits Times in an interview, “In the next five years, Asia could be the biggest region for us if we grow at double-digit” rates.” More than half of about 200 new bankers that Julius Baer plans to hire this year will be based in Asia.

Julius Baer is the fifth-largest private bank in Asia by Assets Under Management (AUM), according to a 2015 ranking by Asian Private Banker. It’s AUM in Asia stood at US$75.1 billion. Without ruling out the prospective idea of future acquisitions, Collardi expressed that the Bank is currently focused on expansion through hiring.

Julius Baer is investing heavily in technology, and has chosen Singapore as the base for a new platform that will support its global operation. The bank will spend “several hundred millions” of Swiss francs over the next five years on technology.

“My take is that the job market for the banking sector in Hong Kong and Singapore is going to remain soft for some time,” Gary Lai, managing director for Southeast Asia at recruitment firm Charterhouse Partnership told SCMP.com.

As regards investment banks, “The decision for them to cut is a balancing act between being over staffed when revenues are low and being understaffed if and when the market improves next year,” said Adam Jeffes, associate director for front office financial services in Hong Kong at Morgan McKinley. The scale of any job cuts would depend on the market performance in the coming months.

Also read: Top 10 In-Demand Banking Jobs in Singapore

Image credit: Todayonline.com

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