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Morning Coffee: Why banks can’t afford to give you an expat package

Banks in Singapore end expat packages

You're not getting this package

Are you hoping to move to Singapore for a banking job? Are you wondering why every bank you apply to is refusing your requests for an expat package on top of your salary?

Banks in the city state first took the knife to these packages in 2008 as the global financial crisis both restricted their staffing budgets and triggered a flood of applicants from Western countries who were willing to move without expat benefits.

Now there’s a new reason why employers are still refusing to grant expat allowances in Singapore – the spiraling cost of the two main benefits within them, accommodation and schooling. If you were lucky enough to get your housing and education paid for as a foreigner in a middle-management job right now, they would make up the most costly element of your total compensation, according to a report released yesterday by consultancy ECA International. In other words, the bank would have to fork out more towards your housing and schooling than it would towards your pay.

Recruiters we spoke to last month said banks in Singapore would continue to limit expat packages to all but their most senior staff – think C-level rather than MD-level. And while few would have sympathy for already well-paid finance professionals not getting their school fees and condos paid for, the rising cost of living in Singapore can contribute to foreigners deciding to return home.

“Cost was the biggest issue for us leaving as we were working hard just to pay rent and school fees, with not much left over,” an Australian banking professional who worked in Singapore for seven years told us in April. “Our rent was S$100k [US$74k] per year for a modest four-bedroom house and all the schooling costs came to about S$70k [US$52k].”

Facing a future without expat packages, an increasing number of foreigners in Singapore are now sending their children to government-subsidised local schools instead of international ones, reports the Wall Street Journal.


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