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Singapore’s three local banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – have stepped up their hiring from their foreign rivals this year, say recruiters.

And in June we reported on a surge in candidate enquiries to the three firms of up to 70%.

“The local Singapore population have definitely started to stay away from the Western Banks due to the uncertainty of how long your career will last with them,” says Kyle Blockley, managing partner of recruitment firm KS Consulting.

Job losses at firms such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and now Goldman Sachs have fuelled the perception that Singapore banks are more stable employers.

But is this rise in applications and recruitment only a short-term phenomenon? To what extent do the local players really employ staff from global firms? And which particular foreign institutions do they prefer to poach from?

To find out, we worked out the Singapore headcounts of DBS, OCBC and UOB via the number of their staff who have online profiles.

Then we calculated the percentages of externally-hired staff within these workforces who have previously been employees of 13 of the largest Western banks.

While the figures in the table below only reflect people who have public profiles, they do suggest which foreign banks in Singapore are supplying most staff to their local competitors.

Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered are Singapore banks’ main hunting grounds by a considerable margin. Of DBS employees recruited externally, for example, almost a fifth came just from the three companies.

These global banks not only boast some of the largest headcounts in Singapore finance, many of their staff work in job functions – from compliance to corporate and private banking – which are also sought after at the domestics.

By contrast, employees of foreign firms with an investment banking focus – in particular BAML, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – are (unsurprisingly) in very low demand.

Overall, our table shows that DBS – the Singapore firm with the most international reach – has the most (28.5%) externally-sourced employees with previous experience at the 13 large Western banks.

UOB is not far behind at 26.5%, while the figure for OCBC is 20.5%.

“Given that they also hire from each other and from employers like Asian banks, boutiques, the Big Four etc, these percentages are already quite high – and I’d expect them to rise,” says a Singapore-based recruiter who works with one of the banks.

Recruiters expect the percentage of staff hired from European banks like Barclays, Deutsche, and Credit Suisse – which currently sit mid-table – to rise as Singapore firms take on some of their former back-office staff whose jobs have shifted offshore.

Image credit: ranckreporter, Getty


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