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Morning Coffee: Banking birthday-bonus battle brews in Singapore

Banking birthday bonus battle heats up in Singapore

And here's $1,000 cash

As Singapore celebrates its 50th year since independence, banks in the city state are competing to offer their staff the best birthday gifts. And UOB has now emerged as the most generous firm.

DBS kicked things off around Chinese New Year with an announcement that 18,000 of its employees would receive an extra bonus of S$1k (US$722) each. And last month OCBC revealed it was giving its 8,000 local staff presents ranging from shares to cash cards – about 3,000 junior employees will get about S$1k worth of OCBC stock.

Global banks are also getting in on the act, although Citi’s gift of commemorative S$100 EZ Link (public transport) cards to 7,000 Singapore employees isn’t particularly generous (to be fair the US bank is also making charitable donations and organising staff events to celebrate the nation’s 50th birthday).

Yesterday, however, UOB played its trump card. Predictably enough it announced that about 7,500 employees, at VP level and below, will receive a S$1k cash gift – but the bank also gave all its employees in Singapore an extra day of annual leave. “As SG50 is an historic moment in time for Singapore, we wanted our employees to be able to extend their celebrations with family and friends, whether they take the day off to coincide with this long weekend or any other time this golden jubilee year,” chief executive Wee Ee Cheong told the Straits Times.

There’s a serious side to all these give-aways, though. The birthday bonuses are focused on junior employees – precisely the people that banks are finding it most difficult to keep hold of. Compensation and benefits are crucial to banks’ efforts to reduce the high rate of job hopping by Gen-Y finance professionals in Singapore.


New boss of J.P. Morgan Asset Management in Asia plans China expansion. (Asian Investor)

Goldman Sachs hires Dave Sandor to develop Asia convertible bonds (Finance Asia)

Singapore’s easiest days as a finance hub are over. (Business Times)

IMF’s currency reservations send China’s yuan lower. (Wall Street Journal)

China’s stock rout bites into its millennials. (South China Morning Post)

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