DBS has been doing some huge hiring. That doesn't mean you can get a job there

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Why DBS’s headcount just shot up by 1,233

DBS’s headcount rose by 1,233 in the year to end-March as it added more technology jobs in Singapore. The bank employed 26,964 people in Q1 2019, up from 25,731 a year previously, according to its first quarter results.

How did DBS manage to boost its workforce by 5% in just a year? About 35% of the 1,233 new DBS jobs were for what for the firm classifies as “insourced” tech professionals – people with technology skills who previously worked on DBS projects at vendors but are now employed by the bank. DBS has been bringing technologists in-house for the last couple of years and these new figures show the process is ongoing.

It’s likely, however, that technology professionals account for an even greater proportion of the new recruits at DBS, because the bank hasn’t only been putting ex-vendor staff on its payroll. DBS has also been poaching from both tech firms and banks. It’s been hiring, for example, senior engineers to lead its development of AI, deep-data engineering, APIs, and mobile applications, Soh Siew Choo, head of consumer banking and big data analytics technology, told us last month.

Half of DBS’s experienced-level vacancies in Singapore are currently in technology, according to its careers website. The firm’s annual recruitment hackathon, Hack2Hire, also helps it to add new junior developers – as many as 100 in Singapore and India – to its workforce.

Where else has DBS been hiring? The only other specific recruitment reference in the firm’s financial report relates to its Consumer Banking/Wealth Management unit, where expenses were 16% higher year on year in Q1, partly because of “headcount growth”. It’s probable – given their comparatively high salaries and bonuses – that newly-hired private bankers helped drive up these costs. Assets under management in wealth management at DBS stood at US$161.5bn at the end of 2018, a 7% rise from 2017, according to new figures from Asian Private Banker.

It’s unlikely that DBS has taken on many traders or investment bankers over the past year. Net fee and commission income for brokerage and IB products fell 41% and 42%, respectively, year on year, according to the firm’s Q1 earnings report.

Meanwhile, staff costs per head at DBS – total employee expenditure (such as salaries and bonuses) divided by total headcount – went up 3.6% (S$1,090) year on year to reach S$31,598 for the first quarter. This suggests that DBS was slightly more generous when paying bonuses (which staff typically receive in Q1) than it was last year.

Image credit: Tomatopictures, Getty

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