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Singapore recruitment: it’s manic, but don’t panic

As hiring levels in Singapore start to skyrocket, banks must clamp down on compensation inflation and keep the employment market under control – that’s the key message from the 15 senior HR professionals who attended the recent eFinancialCareers roundtable in the city state.

“It’s manic at the moment. We’ve been hiring left, right and centre, and competing heavily for candidates with other firms,” commented one delegate.

HR’s main concern is that job seekers could end up abusing their bargaining power as the market turns in their favour and desperate line managers agree to their requests.

“In consumer banking, we are all tapping into the same recycled pool of talent and some candidates are using this as a negotiating tool,” said one roundtable panelist who, like the others, asked not to be named in this report.

Attendees agreed that multiple offers are creeping back into Singapore – but are not yet at pre-crisis levels – and guaranteed bonuses are becoming more common.” Some AVP candidates are getting guarantees; and it’s happening in operations too, not just in the front office.”

But it was counter offers, a subject of recent interest to eFC readers, which generated the most vigorous discussion during the roundtable.

As business picks up and staff retention becomes critical, line managers are “panicking” about losing their top performers and this is encouraging them to counter. It is not uncommon to have 40 per cent rises on the table.

Senior managers are putting “unheard of pressure” on AVPs-and-above to stay, giving them regional exposure and more support, and sometimes even removing unwanted tasks. “They are trying to make it very difficult for good people to leave.”

Corporate titles are also important. “Slap on an MD title and the role looks more attractive. It’s clearly still an AVP-level job, but the candidate was offered a VP role elsewhere, so the current manager feels he has to better that,” said one roundtable delegate.

The challenge for HR for the rest of this year is to reign in line management to ensure counter offers don’t escalate too much further.

“I have seen a counter with a 75 per cent uplift and a new job title. In such a case, it’s probably best to let the person go to the new company. There has to be a point where you just give up,” remarked one attendee.

Another bemoaned that some banks are already inflating compensation with their counter offers. “But we aren’t prepared to match them. If you’re not going to really regret the lost person, don’t go for a counter. He or she has mentally checked out anyway.”

Later this week, we report on whether the roundtable delegates believe banks are getting more flexible with their hiring.

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Comments (13)

  1. This sounds so crazy. How come i can’t see or feel it happening around me in banking operations?

  2. Glad to hear that. Nothing seems to be working for me, looking for permanent opportunity but all i get is offer to join as temp.

  3. Screw the temp job.

  4. What kind of window dressing is going on here? Every single information hub be it newspapers, websites, or the news channels portray that the job market is improving. If a degree holder with audit experience cant get into the big 4 at this time (its supposed to be high turnover right now for the B4 actually with guys jumping to the commercial or financial side) then i dont know when is!

  5. Are you from local uni? Because according to one forum member here, he said that fresh local grad are offer up to 7-8k as starting pay to take up front-line jobs in banking industry. Can anyone verfiy whether is it true?

  6. I have >10 yrs of experience and figured to be hired as an associate (formerly director level) than to be unemployed for too long. On top of that i came from a top notch company!.. Its not a good job mkt that’s for sure.

  7. Employers got used to not giving Salary hikes showing recession ghost that would eat every one. I 90% hype 10% real in the above described happenings. This is totally over reaction from whom so ever is complaining.

    Whartzowsky Valden Reply
  8. dear friends………please clarify on the exact job market in singapore.

  9. What kind of rubbish is this? I have been looking to move back to Singapore (from a great role in New York) for personal reasons and I have not had one interview.. this is a bunch of lies.

  10. pure lies. talk to the ppl who are actually in the industry or get your cv straight to key members of the team rather than relying on headhunters who are not responsive.

    alexsoon1984, i believe that kind of pay range is more likely to be corporate finance jobs in the bulge brackets

  11. I’d like to work in singapore,please give me a hand, thank you.

  12. just look at the finance jobs on jobsdb, jobscentral, etc and you get the general picture. recruit is a good benchmark, and all i see are engineering and science jobs.

  13. rosy job market? i don;t think so . yes there are movements going on , again could be the same old jobs being recycled on the job sites! or the media is making up all this hype.
    getting sick and impatient of people saying market has improved. employers are still as choosey as ever

    frustrated individual Reply

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