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Salaries spike 20% as wealth-tech jobs surge at UBS, CS and others in Asia

Salaries spike 20% as wealth-tech jobs surge at UBS, CS and others in Asia

Behind the RMs

Tech hiring at private banks is surging in in Singapore and Hong Kong as several firms develop new client apps and upgrade their clunky IT systems in the cities. And pay is rising as a result.

UBS announced last week that it is spending an additional $1bn globally as it standardises various technology systems into its single ‘One Wealth Management’ platform.

Some of this investment will flow into in Singapore and Hong Kong, where UBS continues to hire tech professionals for its private bank, says a recruiter with knowledge of the Swiss firm. UBS also bases its wealth-focused innovation lab in the Singapore.

Other banks recruiting for wealth IT roles in Asia include Credit Suisse, Bank of Singapore, DBS, and Standard Chartered.

Credit Suisse, for example, developed and launched a new app last year in Singapore, its largest private banking business outside of Switzerland, to help its relationship managers communicate better with wealthy Asian clients.

And some of the 300 techies that Standard Chartered has been hiring in Singapore this year are supporting its expanding private bank, according to recruiters.

“Every bank has a major digital agenda currently and this is now driving aggressive hiring in technology in Asia,” says Adam Solomons, associate director at recruiters Hydrogen in Singapore.

“Several banks in Asia are developing new digital wealth management platforms and creating new apps used by RMs and clients to manage and better visualise their investments,” adds Michael Nette, a director at recruitment firm Ambition in Singapore.

Asian private banking clients are typically younger than those in Western markets and demand mobile access to their investments in addition to face-time with their RMs. Providing more online information to clients also frees up RMs’ time and reduces banks’ costs.

But the recent growth of mobile technology has caught private banks on the hop.

“A lot of the platforms at private banks are – or were until recently – still old school, but with new technologies like HTML5, their tech needs to be upgraded,” says Vince Natteri, director of search firm Pinpoint Asia in Hong Kong.

As private banks in Singapore and Hong Kong invest in online and mobile technology, demand has surged for IOS/Android developers (HTML5, CSS3, PhoneGap, Cardova and AngularJS are popular skills) and UX/UI designers.

IT jobs are also opening up as private banks like UBS integrate the multiple technology platforms they traditionally depended on.

“They’ve had little investment in comparison to investment banks,” says Solomons from Hydrogen. “Now they’re pulling all product lines onto one platform, which is increasing demand in Asia for business analysts and architects with integration experience.”

Technology jobs related to security, monitoring and compliance are also in high demand at private banks, says Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director at recruiters Robert Half in Singapore.

This follows a string of high-profile compliance breaches at private banks in Singapore in connection with alleged money-laundering by Malaysia’s scandal-hit 1MDB fund.

Regardless of their function, however, IT professionals in the wealth sector are commanding pay rises of up to 20% when they move jobs, say recruiters.

A VP-level developer earning S$170k (click here for our IT pay guide for Singapore) could therefore see their salary rise above S$200k at a new employer.

Private banks are typically open to hiring techies from investment banking or other parts of the finance sector. “Candidates are identified on their technology competencies rather than the area they work in within a bank,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director of recruiters Hays in Singapore.

Unsurprisingly, given the recently growth in vacancies, applications for private banking tech roles are on the up.

“Previously, investment banking used to be the crown jewel of banking technology in Asia, now it’s more wealth management,” says Natteri.

Image credit: DragonImages, Getty

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