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Hiring in Banking and Financial Services: Risk, Compliance, Finance and Audit and Operations on the rise

Vacancies are on the rise within the banking and financial services sector at levels unseen since the pre-credit crunch era. A Banking & Financial Services manager at Robert Walters notes, “There’s been a 76% increase in vacancies from 2020 to 2022. Although some roles in operations and finance were offshored, regional roles and leadership roles were still sought after in Singapore.”

Talent is in short supply even with inflows from the big “Hong Kong exit”, according to the expert. “There’s been a significant migration of talents from Hong Kong to Singapore for most large investment banks, fund managers, asset managers and private equity firms. Organisations also chose to set up new businesses, satellite offices or simply shift certain functions to Singapore – bolstering Singapore’s position as a top financial hub. In our core verticals of risk, compliance, operations, and finance and audit, teams have been migrated from Hong Kong to Singapore. Alternatively, attrition in Hong Kong will be replaced in Singapore.” Now that the borders have re-opened in Hong Kong, firms are developing a new approach looking at talents in Singapore and Hong Kong simultaneously so that they get the flexibility to hire the best talents.

The expert adds, “With talent supply particularly limited in our core markets, companies have offered higher increments to candidates and been looser about the quality of profiles they seek. Candidates were offered multiple roles and could secure new jobs quickly, particularly in niche markets like quantitative risk or valuation. In investment compliance or compliance within fund management, we saw salary increments of over 30%. Investment banks have introduced new flexible ways of working as compensation alone is not enough to attract candidates. More candidates also prioritised quality of life, which includes less late-night calls to align to another time zone.”

Now that travel is back on the agenda, the manager also points out that talents in some domains like auditing have been less active on the market and were difficult to contact during busy seasons.

Read on to find out more about the manager’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Banking and Financial Services professionals in 2023.

ESG and digital opens up new frontiers

“Digitisation, digital banks and new technologies will play a big role in the hiring market in 2023,” the expert states.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) will also be more prevalent. The expert remarks, “Expect ESG to become a vertical of its own pertaining to all different functions – think ESG risk, compliance or audit, for instance.”

Lastly, she mentions that regulatory bodies will create more new hybrid roles – like compliance data analytics – as they become more data-driven.

Analytics and technical skillsets in demand

Roles in compliance data analytics, ESG risk, investment operations, and finance manager funds or private equity will see strong demand in 2023. “Finance managers with a private equity background are one example of a highly sought after role,” notes the expert.

Accordingly, 2023’s in-demand skillsets fall adjacent to or within the scope of these roles. For instance, auditors with strong data analytics skills will be at an advantage, as will candidates who can perform risk analytics or modelling in areas like treasury IRRBB analytics. Other prized skillsets and domain expertise include credit risk hedge funds and NBFI, valuation of complex derivatives instruments, financial crime – specifically anti-bribery, sanctions and AML/CFT – and compliance with investigation, fraud risk, loan operations, commodities, and middle office experience for structured credit products.

Understand what employees want

“It’s no secret that the post-COVID workplace is different from before. Perspectives have changed – work-life balance is now more of a critical factor and salary alone is no longer the deciding factor,” says the manager. Firms that understand their employees’ concerns and motivations will fare better at retention. “Companies should provide expanded benefits such as mental health coverage, flexible work arrangements and upskilling opportunities in other specialisations.”

On the remuneration front, the Banking & Financial Services manager recounts that some firms took pre-emptive measures like tactically pitching salary increments as high as 20% for existing employees. She notes, “Some candidates with lengthy tenures have found that they are on lower salaries than peers who have job hopped more and may have less depth and knowledge. Reward employees early – not after they have resigned – to convey that the business values loyalty.”

Nevertheless, retaining an employee by increasing their salary may only be a stopgap if their motivation for leaving is department instability. On this point, Priya advises, “Consider having a channel for anonymous feedback and bottom-to-up appraisals, as this provides employees with a sense of importance and belonging.”

Lastly, companies can build a positive public profile for prospective candidates through ways such as conducting corporate social responsibility events.

Firms that understand employees’ concerns and motivations will fare better at retention.


Higher salary increments for most of the year

Salaries will increase in 2023 as the talent shortage continues and still tight labour regulations. Incremental pay raises of over 20% will be the norm for in-demand roles.

“The situation may stabilise towards the end of 2023. If so, we can expect a market correction and salaries will return to a 15% increment for job movers,” says the expert.

Find out more

Request access to our 2023 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about key hiring trends in the Banking and Financial Services industry in Singapore.

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