Go back just a few years and international banks were staffing up in Asia and attracting the best talent – DBS wasn’t among the top choices for most job seekers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Now DBS, which has since grown into a stronger regional player, is the sixth most popular employer in Asia, according to the eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer Rankings, which asked almost 2,000 finance professionals in Asia (and more than 6,500 globally) where they would like to work.
But why do finance professionals want to join DBS, given the variety of local, regional and international firms operating in Singapore and Hong Kong?
An obvious reason is its reputation for financial – and job – stability. While global banks like Barclays and Standard Chartered are cutting roles as they struggle to generate revenue in Asia, DBS added more than 900 staff and made record earnings of S$4.45bn (US$3.17bn) last year.
The firm was also named the ‘safest bank in Asia’ by Global Finance in 2015, while respondents to our survey rated it highly – above banks such as J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley – for its financial performance. “DBS’s financial stability and the trust people have in us give us an edge over the foreign banks – this applies across the generations we hire,” says Grace Yip, executive director, group human resources, at DBS.
But while generating a healthy profit can help get candidates through the door, it’s not the main factor in ensuring staff stay with the bank. Despite a slowing economy, Singapore’s job market remains short of talent and banks remain vulnerable to competitors poaching their best people.
So what kind of retention initiatives is DBS running? For one, as it continues to expand regionally in Asia, DBS is stepping up its efforts to encourage staff moves across the firm, says Yip.
DBS has also developed a ‘core learning curriculum’ for staff training, focused on areas like leadership, functional capabilities and personal development. “Different people have varying learning needs, so we make available over 450 customised and personalised learning ‘integrated road maps’ for our staff,” says Yip.
In December the bank opened a new space for running training courses, the DBS Academy, in a bid to boost staff creativity. And it announced a new programme in which employees at senior associate level or below receive a S$500 credit for external training courses.
“We’re also making training fun and more interactive through courses that promote experimentation to help our people develop digital mind-sets,” adds Yip. “These include digital masterclasses, hackathons, and workshops, run in partnership with digital ecosystem players.”
Work-life balance over money
Yip say candidates in Asia have become “savvier” in choosing their ideal company to work for. “People conduct more research on potential organisations and their peers’ opinions have a huge influence on their decisions. Especially with Gen Y and Z, the prestige of a company and monetary compensation no longer hold the same weight as they did.”
So is remuneration no longer important to recruitment and retention at DBS? “Having fair compensation is now hygiene if you want to attract the right talent. Many people are far more attracted to organisations that are innovative and purpose-led, while offering a sense of stability and work-life balance.”
DBS has developed a new range of flexible working options as work-life balance becomes more of a concern to finance professionals in Asia, says Yip. “It’s important to understand what each individual values and position ourselves accordingly. For example, through our ‘iFlex@DBS’ programmes, employees receive a fixed sum of money every year to use for any wellness purpose, from dental to family vacations.”
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