While investment banks in Singapore are scaling back as fee revenues decline, specialist accountancy roles remain in demand and recruiters are struggling to fill the jobs with nationals despite the increasing focus on localisation on the island state.
Singaporian national remain the first choice for financial services roles, but the shortage of locals for broad range of accountancy in demand jobs means that foreign applicants are also being hired, according to the latest Quarterly Hotspots report by recruiters Hays.
This is good news for foreign applicants who may have been feeling discouraged by the government's tightening of labour laws to promote the employment of nationals.
Chris Mead, a regional director at Hays for Malaysia and Singapore, says that although current hiring activity is largely dominated by replacement hiring, there are promising signs for the final months of 2013.
“While most roles are replacements, there have also been some new positions created in companies that are restructuring, moving functions into Singapore or expanding. As a result overall vacancy activity is expected to increase this quarter.”
Mead says employers are increasingly wanting local candidates due to tightening government visa regulations for foreigners. "But given the shortage of local talent in many professional areas, demand will continue to outweigh supply.”
Some of the financial roles seeing the most demand are the following, says Hays:
Tax Professionals: A shortage of tax professionals will be experienced this quarter. Most popular are candidates with commercial and private practice experience, as well as regional knowledge and transfer pricing experience.
Internal Auditors: Auditors with commercial and audit firm experience are in demand.Given the nature of the job, which involves extensive travel, candidates often move into other areas of finance after a few years. This depletes the pool of suitable candidates for internal audit vacancies.
Costing: Banks and financial services companies continue to cut costs and make efficiencies, fuelling demand for top quality costing professionals.
Risk and compliance: Continual changes in the regulatory landscape are pushing demand for risk and compliance professionals ever higher as banks bolster these teams.
Valuers: Valuations professionals are sought after by the Big Four, mid-tier accountancy firms and the corporate sector.
Hays says that temporary and contract jobs are gaining in popularity in Singapore in response to organisations needing to fill skills gaps quickly.
“Recruiting temporary or contract staff allows an employer to overcome headcount freezes if they exist in their organisation, and trial a candidate before offering them a permanent position,” says Mead. “In addition, the benefits offered by employers are becoming more in-line with permanent roles, which is attracting more candidates to temporary assignments."