Singapore and Hong Kong are no longer the banking operations hubs they once were. Banks continue to build their back offices in less costly Asian markets (think Deutsche Bank in the Philippines or Standard Chartered in India), often at the expense of jobs in the two cities.
But while many junior processing and settlements roles are being offshored, these seven back-office roles are staying put in Singapore and Hong Kong.
“Banks are growing their audit teams across Asia,” says Richard Aldridge, a director at recruitment company Black Swan. “The need for audit to work closely with the business means that even though it’s seen as back office it will only become more tightly entwined with the first and second lines of defence.”
“People attached to private bankers who execute orders and trades are in demand,” says Christina Ng, an executive director at LMA Recruitment. “As this requires client interaction, the role can’t be offshored easily. Sometimes these client services associates or assistant relationship managers even get the chance to become RMs if they perform well.”
“Loan administration roles aren't facing offshoring at the moment as corporate lending is still active in Singapore,” says Glen Chua, a manager at recruiters Robert Walters. “Offshoring this function isn’t the most efficient support structure for the front office as domain knowledge of the domestic regulatory landscape is required.”
“Client due diligence roles aren’t being offshored, especially those within periodic review,” says Chua. “With the tightening of the client onboarding/due diligence processes by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, banks want to keep and even beef up local teams.”
“Some settlements roles that support Singapore trades are remaining in Singapore, as required by MAS,” says Adam Solomons, Asia director at recruiters Hydrogen. “However, it’s now common that while the managers sit in Singapore or Hong Kong the rest of the team are in the offshore hubs.”
“Roles such as cash and trade finance operations are evergreen,” says Sherry Zerh, an associate director at recruiters Kerry Consulting. “But we’re seeing more hiring at AVP-to-head level rather than at junior level.”
“MAS regulatory reporting is a critical function needing on-the-ground presence and requiring communication with various internal teams,” says Bien Law, a senior recruitment consultant at Eames Consulting. “And although banks have automated the consolidation of some regulatory information, a professional will still need to check, validate and present that information in the format required by MAS. Some functions can be offshored, but not regulatory reporting.”
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