Singapore’s burgeoning fintech sector and growing fund management industry is creating significant opportunities for talents in financial services.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore is working to strengthen the city state’s position as an international fund management centre.
It recently announced plans to invest US$5 billion with private equity and infrastructure fund managers who have a significant presence in Singapore.
The move follows the introduction of a new corporate structure for funds, with the aim of making Singapore a key fund domiciliation destination.
Will Tan, managing director of specialist recruitment firm Principle Partners, says: “There is a lot happening in Asia, but many large fund managers do not yet have a base in the region. “It is making more and more sense for these companies to set up an office here, increasing opportunities for people working in the sector.”
Another key industry trend that Tan has observed is an increased demand for data scientists, driven in part by government initiatives to establish the city as a regional fintech hub.
“This is a very clear trend. In hot areas, such as the coin space and the data science space, there is definitely a lack of talent. We are having to look overseas and import foreign talent into Singapore,” he says.
Fortunately, this surge in demand coincides with a desire among many Asian professionals who have spent time working overseas to return home.
“Asia is growing faster than other regions, and overseas Asians want the opportunity to be part of this growth,” Tan says.
“Many of these professionals have the skills and experience that are currently in high demand here, and companies are prepared to pay a premium for such talent, especially for people in technical roles, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, health science and biotech.”
Principle Partners is well placed to help companies find candidates for these roles due to its expertise in financial services and emerging technologies.
Tan explains: “We offer very deep coverage in these areas. Our modus operandi has always been to be a specialist in the areas that we cover. That approach has done well, and the market recognises that.”
This high level of specialist knowledge also enables Principle Partners to offer its clients a fast turnaround when they are looking for candidates.
“Because we only cover a few verticals, we have really deep knowledge in these areas. I think the better you know your market, the faster your turnaround time is. There is nothing generalist about what we do,” Tan says.
Principle Partners was founded 10 years ago by Will Tan and Jag Dhaliwall. Tan had previously spent more than a decade working in equity research at investment banks, including Salomon Smith Barney and Citigroup.
Meanwhile Dhaliwall had been a financial reporter covering private equity and investment banking for Reuters and Bloomberg. “It was a very good foundation for a career in executive search because the relationships and the knowledge were all there,” Tan says.
He adds that his own background also gave him a good insight into what financial services firms were looking for in candidates, and the qualities they needed them to have.
“We totally get it, and because we get it, we save our clients a lot of time. We know our way around,” he says.
Another area in which Principle Partners differentiates itself from other firms is in its proactive approach to recruitment.
Tan says: “Executive search tends to be very reactive. A client comes to you, gives you a role and that is when you start working on the search.”
By contrast, Principle Partners harnesses data from all of the searches it does to help it predict which roles are likely to be in demand in the future.
“We then proactively go out into the market and make contact with relevant talents for roles that are hot. We also proactively talk to Asians who are based overseas with the hope that at some point they may want to consider moving back home. That is another way in which we are proactive and thinking ahead.”
Principle Partners also prides itself on helping individuals progress in their careers and find the roles that are right for them.
Tan says: “Because we are specialists, we tend to know a lot more of the players in our space, so for candidates who are keen to get into this space, we can very quickly put them in touch with the right people. We know who is hiring and what kind of companies or funds will be interested in speaking to certain candidates.”
He adds that the group also gives career advice to potential candidates to help them understand the steps they need to take if they are interested in moving into a certain part of the industry.
Its proactive approach to recruitment means Principle Partners often approaches candidates about opportunities and roles that could propel them to the next level in their career even if they were not necessarily thinking about moving.
Tan says: “At Principle Partners we put a lot of emphasis on building long-term relationships and offering the best advice along the way. Because of our size and specialisation, we are a lot less transactional. We are recognised in the market as subject matter experts.”