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The expanding bank now poaching from the bulge bracket in Singapore

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If you’re looking for a banking job in Singapore, you may want to consider applying to Mizuho. The Japanese bank has announced in local media that it will be increasing its 600-strong Singaporean headcount by 50%, taking on another 300 people in the next three to five years.

Singapore and Hong Kong have witnessed several similarly huge hiring announcements from foreign banks since the end of the global finance crisis – last year, for example, BNP Paribas revealed plans to take on 1,400 staff in Asia. What makes Mizuho’s expansion different is that the new hiring isn’t happening at the same time as it’s offshoring big chunks of its workforce away from Singapore. This appears to be a genuine headcount increase, involving a move into a larger new office in Asia Square.

Predictably enough, when asked by Singapore’s Business Times how the firm is going to recruit so many people in a talent-short labour market, Takuya Ito, Mizuho Bank’s general manager for Asia and Oceania, replied: “We believe in investing in young people and upgrading existing staff”.

A grow-your-own talent strategy will only get Mizuho so far, however. Recruiters with knowledge of the bank in Singapore tell us that it has already poached experienced finance professionals from competitors in recent months as it staffs up a new transaction-banking unit opening in Singapore in October.

The transaction-banking job market, for both trade-finance and cash-management roles, is among the most competitive of any function in Singapore’s finance sector. Local firms DBS and UOB are recruiting aggressively, as we noted earlier this month. “But Mizuho has still managed to poach in transaction banking – people from JPMorgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, for example, expensive guys,” says a recruiter who asked to remain anonymous because of client confidentiality. “Right now Mizuho is paying good money to move good people.”

Mizuho has also recently joined the growing list of firms relocating transaction bankers from Indonesia to Singapore, allowing it to tap the expanding Indonesia market from its regional hub in Singapore. “They’ve made a good number of senior hires from the Indonesian market – candidates that other banks would have liked to have taken on,” says the recruiter.

As we’ve already noted, recruitment of foreign finance professionals at a mid to senior level in Singapore is comparatively unaffected by a new law which prioritises local candidates.

Pitching jobs at Mizuho to candidates in Singapore and Southeast Asia has been straight forward so far, says the recruiter. “Candidates are attracted for two main reasons: firstly, transaction banking is a new unit, so it’s possible to grow your business from the ground up and be recognised as a pioneer; secondly, Mizuho has a particularly big balance sheet to support its lending business. Not every bank can offer this sort liquidity.”

Away from transaction banking, Mizuho aims to bulk up in “regional corporate functions” in Singapore, including credit, risk management, compliance, internal audit and research, according to the Business Times. It’s also recruiting in treasury, project finance, structured finance, syndication and advisory.

Mizuho has not responded to a request for further information about its recruitment in Singapore.

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