Singapore’s three local banks have been on a hiring spree. DBS, OCBC and UOB collectively boosted their global headcounts by 5,987 people over the past year and their per-head staff costs also shot up, according to their first-half results.
DBS, the largest Singaporean bank, added 1,474 employees between the end-June 2014 and end-June this year – more than 120 hires on average a month – a rise of 7.36%, as the chart below shows. The 15.56% year-on-year jump in OCBC’s workforce (to 29,507 people) is even more substantial, although it was partly driven by OCBC’s acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in Hong Kong last year. While UOB’s hiring was more modest, taking on 539 new staff in 12 months is still indicative of an expansionist bank.
Although the Singaporean banks don’t break down their half-year headcount by division, wealth management, predictably, has been a growth sector – especially for DBS and OCBC, say recruiters. OCBC’s wealth management income rose to a new high of S$1.28bn (US$93bn) in the first half, an 11% increase from a year ago.
Recruiters add that the headcount rise is also due to recent regional expansion in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Indonesia. More than half of DBS’s headcount is now based outside Singapore, for example.
But expanding into emerging Asian markets isn’t making it any cheaper overall to employ people. As the chart below shows, staff costs per head have gone up at all three banks. DBS is spending 12.42% more on each employee than it was at the end of June last year – the figures for OCBC and UOB are 6.08% and 8.92% respectively.
If you want to work at the Singaporean bank with the largest pay packets, try DBS. Its staff costs per head for the first six months of this year stood at S$62,404 (US$45,362) – significantly ahead of its rivals, reflecting its larger presence in costlier businesses like investment banking and private banking.