Recruitment in Singapore’s financial services sector has recovered back as institutions prepare themselves for rapid business growth and intense hiring competition from the fintech firms.
Randstad has identified two key themes driving recruitment in the sector, namely an ongoing shift towards digital banking, and the reversal of some offshoring projects as institutions review their business continuity plans after the pandemic outbreak.
Lim Chai Leng, Senior Director of the Banking and Financial Services Team at Randstad Singapore, explains: “With licences granted to the first four digital banks and the uptick in fintech companies in Singapore, we have seen a shift towards digital banking hires.”
“The pandemic has also created a change in consumer behaviour and accelerated the shift among banks to provide more services digitally.”
Some roles, such as middle office client servicing and operations functions supporting corporate and investment banks, that had previously been offshored to countries like India and Philippines, have been brought back to Singapore.
“To build operational resilience, some banks have decided to distribute their operations in several locations, which is creating a lot more job opportunities for banking and financial services talent in Singapore,” Lim says.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore revealed that financial institutions will collectively offer 6,500 newly created positions this year, half of which are in technology and consumer banking.
The trends of an uptick in hiring activities are also reflected in Randstad’s latest Banking & Financial Services Candidate Market Outlook report. The report highlighted a high talent demand for relationship managers, as both retail and commercial banks grow their presence in Asia Pacific.
“We expect this trend to continue into 2022, with front office sales positions in retail and wealth management remaining in demand as banks expand their relationship manager workforce.”
“A lot of corporate banks are also looking for institutional relationship managers with a good network in the region to build up client relationships and secure mandates in the regional markets,” Lim says.
The Banking & Financial Services Candidate Market Outlook report, which analysed 7,680 job posts from job portals and company career pages in Singapore between January and July of 2021, found middle office functions, such as client services, reconciliations and trade settlements, were also in demand, as were venture capital investment analysts.
“With more investment in Southeast Asia across venture capital funds and private equity, as well as family offices setting up in Singapore, we do see demand for financial analysts who have strong financial modelling and research skills and experience across various industries and sectors,” Lim says.
She adds that in the coming year, there is also likely to be strong demand for talents in regulatory compliance, transaction surveillance and legal functions, as fintechs build up their business frameworks.
Randstad has a suite of specialised recruiters who cover specific expertises within the banking and financial services sector.
“Financial services is a very complex and sophisticated industry, with many banks offering specialised services, such as private wealth, institutional banking, investment banking. It is natural for us, as a business, to mirror a bank’s operations by having a team of specialist recruiters looking after the recruitment needs for each area,” Lim explains.
She points out that being structured in this way also gives Randstad an edge in being able to help candidates find the right job, as the specialist recruiters can share the latest market insights in a particular sub-sector with them.
One trend that Lim and her team have noticed since the pandemic is that alongside hard skills, banks and fintechs are increasingly putting a higher emphasis on candidates’ soft skills, particularly communication, presentation and interpersonal skills.
“A lot of communication is now done digitally, so you need people who can communicate effectively and build up a rapport and trust with their colleagues and customers over digital channels,” she says.
At the same time, potential employers are also looking for talent with good organisation skills and have the ability to manage deadlines independently, as working from home arrangements mean employees need to be able to operate on their own.
Randstad prides itself on taking a very personalised approach to recruitment, and Lim, who has 20 years’ recruitment experience, says it is important to be able to add value to both clients and candidates through the sharing of industry knowledge and insights.
Alongside producing white papers and thought leadership articles, Randstad has also partnered with Salaryboard to develop a Randstad Salary Calculator that aims to assist talent in salary negotiations.
The tool aggregates salary data collected from local professionals, and enables candidates to benchmark their pay against their peers, based on their role, specialisation and skills, as well as how much experience they have.
“Everyone is curious to know how much they should get paid. Our appetite to explore new HR technology and collaborate with emerging technologies such as Salaryboard has helped us forged an advantage in the recruitment industry. We are able to give advice and real-time data to candidates on what they should be negotiating for,” Lim says.
However, salary is not everything in one’s career. Lim adds that she advises people not to focus solely on the salary package, but to also consider whether the role provides them with the opportunity to gain new knowledge or skills that they currently lack.
She suggests talent looking for a new role should be clear about what their strengths are, and know the areas in which they need to upskill to further appeal to potential employers.
“Be open to new positions or functions that you may not have done before but have an interest in. Employers, particularly those who are exploring new digital products and services, might not be able to find someone with 100% of the skillset they want, so they are looking for people with an aptitude for learning, and they are willing to give you the opportunity to learn new skills and develop yourself.”