Retrenchments and a slowing economy have kept banking professionals in Singapore on their toes over the recent months. Despite this, banks are still hiring to fill gaps in a range of different key areas. Lim Chaileng, Director – Banking, Finance and Accounting, Randstad Singapore provides insights on what banks in Singapore are exactly looking for in 2016.
Impacted by slow growth and intense competition, mergers and acquisitions proved to be the next best strategy to boost operations and companies are increasingly turning to consolidation to increase market share and expansion.
We see hiring demands at Associate to AVP level in investment banking units across regional and global banks. With the intensity of M&A activities, candidates are required to have strong financial modelling skills in addition to exposures to regional markets, plus a CFA certification will be an advantage. You can expect to earn from S$8,000 to S$18,000 per annum with performance bonus.
Compliance is still a hot spot given the evolution of the regulatory landscape, with increasingly stringent regulations governing banks and financial services firms. We continue to see a strong demand for specialist roles, mainly in the areas of Financial Crimes Compliance (FCC) and/or Anti-Money Laundering (AML), AML/CFT, Sanctions, Customer Due Diligence and Transaction Monitoring.
Smaller banks however tend to recruit more generalist roles due to their lean compliance teams. Candidates are expected to be an “all-rounder” in most areas.
Banks are looking at compliance professionals in AVP levels or higher with 6 years or more direct compliance experience. The compliance professionals can expect to earn anywhere between S$100,000 to S$300,000 per annum excluding bonuses.
Internal audit roles continue to be in demand in 2016. Generally, the function has started to mature and adopt the specialist route, where we see particular demand for skillsets such as financial markets audit, compliance and risk management (credit/market risk/operational risk), as well as IT auditors. With the evolution of the 3 Lines of Defence (3LoD) framework, internal auditors continue to be highly sought-after within quality assurance, operational risk and business risk functions.
In particular, quality assurance roles continue to attract experienced auditors where the team provides an independent oversight of governance (risk, compliance and audit) functions. The professionals could expect to earn S$100,000 to S$250,000 per annum, excluding bonuses.
Due to the increased regulatory requirements and provision of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), banks are now placing a greater focus on the compliance and onboarding space within the private banking, corporate and investment banking clients.
As a result, budget and headcounts have increased significantly in the KYC team, both onshore and offshore to support the checks and reviews in these business segments. The banks are looking for candidates at the analyst to assistant vice president level with two to seven years of relevant experience in different APAC markets to meet regulatory requirements.
The professionals can earn S$50,000 to S$140,000 per annum, excluding bonuses.
Corporate banking operations have seen a slowdown in hiring demand, except for replacement positions. On the investment banking side however, we have seen a spike in new headcounts particularly for trade support and settlements roles. These roles are created to support different asset classes such as equities, Fixed Income (FI), FX and derivatives.
We have also observed a similar hiring trend in hedge fund firms, where we see an increasing demand for candidates with strong knowledge in similar asset classes. Candidates are required to possess strong excel macros and VBA skills to help streamline the BAU process. You can expect to earn between S$42,000 to S$72,000 per annum, excluding bonuses.
Q1 2016 saw an increased demand for specialist roles within the accounting and finance functions in banks. These were largely replacement roles at the mid management level.
The recent regulatory changes saw many financial services firms hiring both permanent and contract regulatory reporting professionals to cope with these changes in reporting i.e. enhance existing regulatory reporting processes and introduce new reporting system.
Candidates are also required to keep abreast of the latest regulatory updates, and possess the ability to interpret what these policies may mean for the business. Professionals can earn between S$150,000 to S$180,000 per annum, excluding bonuses.
The commodities industry has been impacted not just with the fall in oil prices but also the slowdown in China’s economy. As the market remains volatile, we see a demand for credit risk analysts across hard and soft commodities group.
There is a significant increase in hiring activity within the agriculture commodities products, especially in grain, sugar and wheat.
The hard commodities space on the other hand, has been rather quiet – with many shops starting to divest their ferrous business due to the slow growth of the China market. To meet the job demands, the banks are looking for credit risk analysts and product controllers, agriculture and LPG traders with a strong network of market contacts.
There will be an ongoing demand for claims executives, particularly within life insurance (group and individual life classes). The surge in demand is largely attributed to market movement.
However hiring managers are only considering candidates with relevant claims experience, which unfortunately is limited to a small pool of talent in the market. To address the candidate shortage, professionals who have experience in assessing or processing claims and working with regulatory authorities will be highly regarded for the claims assessor position.
Insurance firms are looking for ICA, LOMA, professional certification within insurance or a Business diploma, plus 6 years of relevant experience for manager roles with a strong understanding of claims guidelines. A good interpersonal communication skill for justifying claims decisions.
With the growth in high net worth populations regionally, there is an increasing demand for high net worth underwriters. High net worth underwriters are mainly senior executives who have a minimum of 7 years’ underwriting life insurance experience with large underwriting approval limits.
They are also required to possess knowledge of reinsurance underwriting guidelines to assess the risk posed by the clients based on the premium insured. The supply for high net worth underwriters are further limited by underwriters who have moved on to managerial positions or reinsurance companies.
To secure a job in this position, the insurance firms are looking for specific qualifications such as ACII, ANZIIF, ALU, LOMA or a nursing degree and 7-10 years of relevant underwriting experience. Professionals can expect to earn between S$90,000 to S$120,000 per annum for managerial level.
Contracting continues to see a steady demand in the market with banks offshoring their BAU functions and the increased regulatory requirements. Despite the slowdown of the economy, we are seeing a lot more contracting requirements in the KYC and client onboarding function.
Banks are hiring contractors for their middle office, settlements and documentation teams. Local regulatory changes have also led to an increased demand for contracting professionals with risk and regulatory reporting background to assist in reporting formats and data compilation. Banks are looking for the right balance of soft and technical skills, so that they are able to assimilate into the role quickly and start contributing to the team.
The salary for entry-level position begins at $2,300 per month to grow as much as $12,000 per month for senior level roles.