When Standard Chartered opened a new office in Changi in May last year, the event was overshadowed by an announcement of 2,000 extra Singapore hires by 2012.
Fast forward to January 2011 and SCB is sticking to its story. At the opening of premises at Marina Bay Financial Centre, Ray Ferguson, the head of Stand Chart’s Singapore office, also said the new people would be in place at the end of next year. That will take local headcount to 8,000.
Recruiters with knowledge of the bank say the constant reinforcement of hiring numbers by senior management helps to attract candidates by generating positive PR, especially when the recent results of some of its rivals have been disappointing.
“This is the third or fourth year of growth for the bank, so if you put it in perspective, Ray’s comments aren’t anything new. But the impact seems greater now because hiring amongst other banks looks likely to be flat, so when a statement like that is made it does sound aggressive,” says one headhunter, who asked not to be named.
Another recruiter adds: “I’m sure each time figures like 2,000 hit the headlines, Stan Chart sees plenty of candidate emails hitting its inboxes. It’s trying to do more direct sourcing, so these high profile announcements are very cost effective.”
He says having a 2,000 target in one country makes SCB one of the most transparent banks in Asia, although others, such as UBS have announced less ambitious numbers. “Three of four years ago this was the kind of information passed from senior management in confidence to a recruitment panel. Now it’s increasingly in the public domain.”
The hiring covers a “broad spectrum of roles”, including sales and relationship management for consumer and wholesale banking, as well as operations, finance, risk, compliance and management, says a spokesperson for the bank.
Stan Chart’s wholesale bank, which contains trading and investment banking, has been its star performer over the past two years, accounting for about 80 per cent of group pre-tax profit. Although a recent Barclays analyst report predicted slow growth for the division, recruiters reckon wholesale bankers will still be in demand at SCB Singapore this year.
The Marina Bay office contains a three-floor trading room with 790 seats. “SCB will want to fill this up,” says the second headhunter.