It’s rare to find a large global bank adding significant headcount in Asia right now (with wealth management the obvious exception to this trend).
The labour market in Singapore and Hong Kong is dominated by job cuts in investment banking and equities (think, Goldman Sachs and BAML) and offshoring in tech and the back office (at Barclays, for example).
But a few less-obvious finance firms have recently been bulking up in Asia. Here’s a selection.
Standard Life Investments
Standard Life Investments opened a new office in Singapore this week – headed by Choon Wah Wong who was poached from Partners Group – to help drive its Asian expansion. Because its new team is senior and only four-strong, the British asset manager is likely to be hiring a few juniors in the near future, says a buy-side recruiter in the city state.
Indonesia’s largest lender by assets opened an office in Singapore in 2014 and focused its hiring on front-office people to staff its core brokerage and investment fund units. Mandiri is still expanding, but now needs more headcount in its back and middle-office, says a recruiter with knowledge of the firm. Competition is fierce for operations jobs given recent offshoring by Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered and others which has left many people out of work.
Back in May we reported that Zedra, the trust company created by a management buy-in of Barclays trust business, had opened up in Singapore – now it’s officially opened its doors in Hong Kong too. Zedra offers trust services to companies and individuals in Hong Kong as well as corporate services to overseas companies wanting to do business in mainland China. It aims to have about 35 employees in Hong Kong by the middle of next year.
The past two years has seen several banks – Citi, UBS, DBS and OCBC among them – open up so-called innovation labs in Singapore as they vie to work with the Republic’s tech start-ups. But it’s not only the large banks that want to get involved in the fintech scene – last month insurer Manulife unveiled its new Lab of Forward Thinking in Singapore. A word of warning from IT recruiters, however: innovation-lab jobs are fairly small in number and sometimes filled by existing tech employees who apply for transfers.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ
It’s hardly a small firm globally, but neither is BTMU a household name in Singaporean banking. That could be about to change – BTMU began ramping up its transaction banking headcount in 2014 and recruiters say it’s still looking for talent in that sector. Comments by chairman Nobuyuki Hirano last month also suggest there’s further hiring to come in other areas, particularly in infrastructure finance and technology. BTMU expects to launch a ‘digital transformation lab’ in Singapore next year, in partnership with IBM.
Another trust company that’s on the march in Asia. Earlier this week Equiom announced that it had bought Heritage Trust Group, an Asian-focused rival with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands. Sixty new staff will join the merged firm. The like of Equiom and Zedra (see above) may not provide many jobs for redundant investment bankers, however. Trust firms typically like to poach senior staff from within the sector and hire juniors with accounting, finance or legal backgrounds.
Image Credit: NI QIN, Getty