But when it comes to recruitment grandstanding, Standard Chartered is leading the charge.
The firm announced this week that it plans to add up to 4,000 staff in South East Asia alone over the next two years. That’s roughly eight people every working day. No wonder its internal recruitment team is reportedly 300-strong.
Ray Ferguson, Stand Chart’s SEA chief executive, says the hiring drive, which follows an unannounced rise of more than 4,000 since 2007, reflects the bank’s confidence in the region’s economy, according to a report in the Financial Times.
But why did he decide to speak so openly on the sometimes sensitive subject of headcount?
Talk quantity, get quality
“I think it was mainly to build a strong employer brand on the back of another solid year of performance,” comments one Singapore-based recruiter, who asked not to be named. Stand Chart’s operations in the city state – which make up about half of its regional business – reported record revenues of US$913m in the first half.
The hiring statement also helps reinforce the bank’s current advertising slogan that it is “here to stay” in Asia, she adds. So perhaps the positive PR generated will help attract quality candidates, which could ultimately be more important than whether SCB actually hits its ambitious target.
“I suppose the other more obvious reason [for the new hiring] would be the move into new premises in Singapore. There must be a number of empty desks sitting idle now,” remarks another recruiter.
But the figure of 4,000 is not entirely fanciful, he adds. “With Stand Chart’s investment into Asia, and more significantly Singapore, I feel it’s not outside the realms of possibility that this is a number which could be achieved.”
Who will be hired?
Ferguson did not comment on which job functions will generate the most vacancies over the next two years, but headhunters with knowledge of the bank point to several sectors. On the wealth management side, private and priority banking will expand as the firm tries to capture more rich South East Asian clients
On the wholesale front, origination, client-coverage groups, and the group transaction bank will grow. “I believe it will also hire in the technology and ops space, and in IT infrastructure as well in order to build or upgrade IT platforms,” comments the first recruiter.
Aside from Singapore, SCB is also expected to recruit in the regional emerging markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Its headcount growth will be largely organic, according to Ferguson, responding to market rumours that the bank is on the acquisition trail.