Banking and finance jobs on the rise in Singapore
SINGAPORE: Hiring activity among banking and financial services firms has grown in the recent quarter. According to a report on Friday (Oct 24) by recruitment firm Robert Walters – Asia Job Index Q3 2014 – accounting and finance job advertising was up 56 per cent for the three months ended in September compared to a year ago.
Industry experts said the increase is on the back of the growing number of new entrants from the asset management and hedge fund segment. This comes even as some large banks are consolidating their operations amid tighter regulatory requirements.
Asset manager Blackstone, which opened its office in Singapore a year ago, now has more than 30 employees and it intends to continue growing its staff numbers.
A Blackstone spokesperson said that Singapore is tremendously attractive for financial services as it has an educated workforce, depth of industry experience, rule of law and is an attractive place for international staff to live.
Blackstone is among an increasing number of financial firms establishing or expanding offices in Singapore.
“Some organisations are actually growing their presence in Singapore and that is some of the largest banking and financial institutions,” said Mr Chris Mead, regional director of Hays.
“In particular, we have seen an increase in the smaller firms and new entries into Singapore. Over the last six to nine months, that has increased almost 30 per cent. We have seen an increase in asset management and private equity, and on the commodities side, we have seen a strong growing demand both in hard and soft commodities,” he added.
The number of fund management firms in Singapore currently stands at 289 this year, up more than 80 per cent from just 158 in 2013.
SOME BANKS DOWNSIZING
However, there are also signs that some large banks are downsizing and taking the opportunity to make better use of their office space.
According to property consultancy Colliers, Credit Suisse is said to be planning a phased exit from One Raffles Quay, vacating about 40,000 square feet, while Standard Chartered Bank is looking to release up to 80,000 square feet at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1.
Industry experts said tighter regulations and higher costs have led to consolidation, especially among European banks. Mr Neil Clark, head of marketing for Asia Pacific at eFinancialCareers, noted: “The European banks are under increasing regulations, making a lot of the work they do more expensive. That is driving them to really look and assess cost base, and where their staff are, and in some cases, actually review the types of businesses they do and really make some tough decisions about what the core business is.”
“Barclays, which went through quite a large international expansion, is now really concentrating on the UK domestic market. That is one of the reasons why they are taking up less real estate space, for example. Some of the other banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered for example, are just taking the opportunity to consolidate so they are moving from multiple premises into one, which has cost advantages,” he elaborated.
Observers said that as US-based banks are under less regulatory requirements than their European counterparts, the likes of Citibank, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are increasing headcount and real estate in Singapore.
Though some large banks are downsizing, the overall hiring environment has seen steady growth in the past few quarters, and it is expected to continue for the next six months. Experts highlight certain roles and skills that are particularly sought-after by employers. According to Robert Walters, these will include positions in regulatory reporting, internal audit, compliance and risk.
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