They have one of the largest foreign banks in Singapore on their resumes, but other global firms are unlikely to hire the bankers now being axed by Standard Chartered.
Stan Chart is reportedly culling about 10% of the staff in its underperforming corporate and institutional division. Most of them are in banking products jobs in Singapore and Hong Kong, but up to 15 front-office corporate finance MDs, mainly based in Singapore, are also being cut.
These MDs are entering the Singapore job market at a bad time.
“It’s hard if you’re let go in the current market,” says Farida Charania, Asia Pacific CEO of search firm Nastrac Group. “Several senior bankers who became available even last year are still looking for jobs.”
“Senior roles in Singapore are particularly limited at the moment, so it will be more difficult than usual to land an equivalent role at a similar bank in these muted market conditions,” adds Angela Kuek, director of search firm Meyer Consulting Group in Singapore.
Stan Chart’s MDs may be hard-pressed to find roles at the likes of Citi, HSBC, Credit Suisse, or UBS. Rival global banks with a large presence in Singapore are not generally hiring in corporate finance.
“If they want to stay in banking, they should look at Asian banks: Singaporean, Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian,” says Kuek.
“Or they could join a corporate if they have close client contacts and the expertise the company wants – for example, treasury skills, working capital management, or a deep understanding of a sector like real estate, technology or energy,” she adds.
The latest Stan Chart cuts, which are being rolled out this week, are part of a plan announced in November 2015 to trim 15,000 jobs and improve profitability.
“We are making our corporate and institutional banking division more efficient,” says a spokesperson for the bank. “Removing duplication in roles and managing our costs to protect planned investments in technology and people means that a small number of existing roles will be impacted.”
Corporate and institutional revenue at Stan Chart fell 7.5% in the third quarter.
“Stan Chart is a highly matrixed organisation so I’m not surprised there’s duplication of roles,” says a headhunter who has worked with the bank for several years. “MDs are expensive and if they don’t meet revenue numbers, it’s natural that they’re targeted for cuts.”
He adds: “The redundancies are also being made with alignment to the relationships and coverage structures. For example, if there are too many guys in one product supporting a coverage group, these product people will be impacted.”
“I expect more calls from Stan Chart people and have already spoken to several this week. The sooner they start their search, the better,” says the headhunter.
It’s not all about layoffs at Stan Chart in Singapore, however. The bank has been hiring 300 new technologists in the city state this year and regularly has more than 100 local vacancies available across functions.
An in-house recruiter at a rival global bank in Singapore told us earlier this month than Stan Chart is effectively propping up the banking job market. “Without the bank, which uses Singapore as its unofficial headquarters, a lot of recruitment agencies here would probably go out of business,” he said.
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