Top flight i-bankers aside, most candidates would be ill advised to ignore the Singaporean banks in their job search.
Don’t assume that DBS, UOB and OCBC will always be outclassed in the employment market now that US and European firms are talking of talent wars once again.
Recruiters tell me that in certain functions, Singapore’s Big Three have begun to ramp up their headcount on the back of revived post-recession lending.
More consumer and commercial vacancies are on the cards in 2010, and we will almost certainly not see a repeat of the November 2008 bloodbath when DBS culled 900 staff.
All three firms are after privilege-banking relationship managers, a rapidly expanding sector in Singapore. They are also hiring in risk, compliance, IT and in many other mid to back-office areas.
Of course the likes of Standard Chartered and ANZ need similar staff, but recruiters stress that, at the very least, Singapore’s banks deserve to be considered alongside the aggressive Westerners.
Compared with the above job functions, institutional banking vacancies are much more limited. If there’s any area where the Sing banks lack clout in the career market, this is probably it. In the words of one headhunter: “Movement from Goldman Sachs to UOB is, well, limited.”
But overall 2010 has started in confident and expansionist fashion for the Big Three. OCBC has raised its ability to attract client-rich private bankers by creating Bank of Singapore from its ING Asia Private Bank acquisition.
It’s the only dedicated private bank headquartered in Singapore, but it’s staking its future on global growth, so look out for RM vacancies servicing clients in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
In many ways, the competitiveness of Singaporean banks in the battle for banking talent depends a lot on their ability to offer people international careers and to expand beyond the city state.
Take DBS. Revealing a strong set of fourth quarter results on Friday, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said within the next five years the bank hopes to earn 40 per cent of its revenue from Singapore, 30 per cent from greater China and the rest from South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Over the past three years, the firm has grown its customer base in China by over four times, and nearly doubled its staff strength to about 1,000. It has vacancies, mainly consumer ones, across mainland cities such as Suzhou, Shenzhen, Nanning, Dongguan, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Small fry in a country where foreign banks control a pittance of the local market (and where DBS is dwarfed by HSBC, Citi etc), but at least it show the firm has some solid foreign hiring expectations. Working for a Singaporean bank doesn’t always mean working in Singapore.