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The newly hot accounting job in Singapore and Hong Kong

Abacus

If you work at the Big Four and are looking for a new accounting job in Singapore or Hong Kong, now may be a good time to consider a move to the banking sector.

Banks in Asia are scrambling to fill regulatory-accounting vacancies and are prepared to train up senior number-crunchers who haven’t worked in banking before.

“There’s robust demand for regulatory accountants at the moment as organisations steer through regulatory shifts. Many banks, both local and foreign, as well as insurance and asset-management firms are hiring in regulatory accounting,” says Stella Tang, managing director of recruiters Robert Half in Singapore.

The ideal candidate for regulatory accounting jobs in Singapore or Hong Kong has expertise in both local and global regulatory standards, says Jamie Wood, manager, financial services and legal, at recruitment agency Robert Walters in Singapore.

While in Singapore familiarity with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reporting rules is a prerequisite for most jobs, knowledge of FATCA regulations is rapidly becoming a sought-after skill. “Some foreign banks who have global functions based in Singapore have even been recruiting for Bank of England regulatory-reporting candidates,” says Wood.

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Unsurprisingly, there aren’t enough accountants in Asia with experience of new global financial regulations to fulfil demand. But banks aren’t dealing with this skill shortage by overloading their current regulatory-accounting teams or by carrying out expensive global searches for talent – they are instead hiring locally and investing in regulatory training for candidates who want a career change, says Mark Hall, country general manager of recruiters Kelly Services in Singapore.

While banks will consider candidates with risk or compliance backgrounds, they are predominately targetting accountants from the Big Four who fancy a move into the banking sector.

“They are hiring people from the Big Four with good accounting fundamentals and sound basic knowledge of the regulatory framework, and then training them,” says Tang from Robert Half. “Right now regulatory accounting is seen as an exciting area to work in.”

This is not a career change for newly-qualified accountants, however. Risk and cost-adverse banks are looking for senior accountants who will get up to speed fairly quickly following their training, adds Tang.

VP-level regulatory accountants at banks in Singapore can expect salaries of between S$110k and S$140k, according to Wood from Robert Walters.

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