Expats still seem to love living in Singapore. In a new HSBC survey involving 190 countries, the Republic was voted the best place to live, work and raise a family abroad.
If you’re a banking professional thinking of moving to Singapore, however, the city state isn’t quite the expat paradise that the report, which covered all industries, suggests.
Finding a banking job there for the first time is becoming increasingly difficult as vacancies dry up and the supply of local candidates increases.
This year global banks like Standard Chartered and Barclays have cut front-office jobs in Singapore and offshored back-office ones. A 2014 law continues to encourage banks to hire locally, while domestic universities are cranking out more finance graduates.
But as a major financial centre without a hinterland, Singapore will always need some overseas professionals to plug skills shortages. Here’s where there are still banking jobs for aspiring expats.
Quantitative portfolio management
“There’s a limited pool of local quantitative portfolio managers in Singapore,” says Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Singapore managing director of recruiters Robert Half. “Locals who have quantitative skills tend to be in risk management positions rather than in the front office, which is driving demand for expats with strong technical and asset management skills.”
Singaporeans are filling the bulk of jobs in this perpetually sought-after function, but there are exceptions. “In cases where the prerequisites for an internal audit role are very specific – such as international exposure to financial markets – banks tend to prefer overseas candidates,” says Imbert-Bouchard.
As we reported earlier this year Singapore’s lack of cyber security talent is reaching epidemic proportions. “The candidate pool here is stretched so we’re now seeing some flexibility in recruiting,” says James Purdie, managing director for Southeast Asia at search firm ConnectedGroup in Singapore. “It’s also an area which is more developed in European, US and Australian financial centres.”
Financial crime compliance
“Local talent is still very limited in financial crime compliance, particularly where candidates require trade, trust or funds product knowledge,” says Adam Solomons, associate director at recruiters Hydrogen in Singapore. “Banks here are competing for the most experienced people and know they exist predominantly in hubs where global banks have HQs, like London and New York.”
While many process and support-drive technology jobs are leaving Singapore for India, banks like Stan Chart, Citi and J.P. Morgan are also hiring more senior tech staff, including people based abroad. “There’s strong demand for digital strategists and digital programme managers, for example, as banks seek to reduce costs and increase productivity,” says Purdie.
“We’re seeing various project-lead and change-management jobs to execute new projects within international banks,” says Richard Aldridge, a director at recruiters Black Swan Group in Singapore. “Specifically, any project touching on a global regulation may require overseas expertise to deliver it on the ground in Singapore as its roll-out will be dictated from the UK or US.”
“As Singaporean banks are still in the early stages of implementing big data projects, the demand for technology professionals skilled in this area is high,” says Imbert-Bouchard from Robert Half. “And with very few locals adept at big data, banks are recruiting overseas for this role.”
Image credit: Andrea Zanchi, Getty