There is, however, also growing demand for a new range of skills and experiences within job descriptions drawn up by banks in the city state. Recruiters in Singapore highlight six important emerging requirements that banks and other financial institutions are looking for on resumes right now.
“Increasingly banks in Asia are becoming more interested in candidates with a post-graduate law degree – mostly for front-office positions, particularly within structured finance,” says Han Lee, director at search firm Lico Resources in Singapore. But it’s not technical legal knowledge they are seeking. “Lawyers are perceived to be good at spotting issues, which can be invaluable when you’re in a complex transaction. A law degree is certainly not a prerequisite in structured finance – we don’t see too many lawyers-turned-bankers in the market yet – but it’s a growing trend.”
As we reported yesterday, Standard Chartered has doubled its headcount in financial crime – and the Asia-focused bank is not alone in wanting these skills. “For financial-crime jobs, we are seeing numerous requests from both large and small financial institutions looking for a specific understanding of sales and trading, insurance, wealth management or corporate banking,” says Richard Aldridge, a director at recruiters Black Swan Group. “A generic financial-crime CV may not have the requisite business understanding to partner advisory compliance and the front office.”
“Non-traditional skills now in high demand in Singapore include fluency in Bahasa Indonesia, to service clients in a market that Singapore is working more closely with. Demand for employees to be bilingual or multilingual will only increase in the future,” says Gerard Milligan, strategic account director at Randstad in Singapore. Lee from Lico adds: “There are more offshore positions here servicing Indonesia. For example, a private equity investment specialist can station in Singapore and travel to Indonesia frequently looking for investment opportunities. It’s extremely helpful if you know the language and understand the cultural.”
Tougher work visa laws in Singapore are forcing banks to source more of their global banking skills within the local workforce. “I’m seeing a trend of requests from banks looking for local Singaporean candidates who have studied or worked overseas – who have broadened their knowledge and life experiences outside the comfort of their own backyard,” says Ben Batten, country general manager of recruitment firm Volt. “They have developed critical thinking, self-sufficiency and a greater awareness of other cultures. More importantly, they’ve already returned to Singapore, so are probably settled and focused on developing their career and aren’t a flight-risk.”
Financial institutions are now emphasising the importance of achieving a cultural fit between them and their new recruits – and they aren’t afraid to throw in a few personal questions at job interviews. “I once interviewed an academically exceptional individual from one of the best management schools in Asia. When asked what he did to relax, he said he studied criminal litigation, quantum mechanics and theoretical physics,” says Kieran Scally, a director for recruiters Links International. “When asked what made him happy or laugh, there was silence and we moved on to the next question. Sadly he was not hired as a result.”
“We had a prominent hedge fund looking to hire a junior IT developer but they were specifically targeting someone without a finance background,” says Chay Creighton, a senior consultant at recruiters Greythorn. “They wanted the relevant technology degree but were focused on getting someone who didn’t think like a trader or had ever thought of one day becoming a trader. They wanted a fresh perspective, which is unusual for a hedge fund.”