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Jobs market still active for accountants

Despite the credit crunch, there is still a strong demand for accounting-trained personnel at banks in Singapore, mostly in departments like product control, tax, compliance and financial planning.

D.M.Arulraj, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore’s head of human resources, says accountants are more sought after by the banks if they have specialised banking knowledge, for example familiarity with financial systems and products.

Arulraj adds that his bank doesn’t just want number-crunching skills. He looks for accountants with open-mindedness, an interest in world affairs and the ability to think out of the box. “We will take in qualified accountants who have these attributes and provide them with classroom training as well as on-the-job training to help equip them with the right skills to succeed in their banking career,” he says.

David Furst, president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, says the Singaporean talent shortage is due to a variety of reasons, including the growth of Singapore as a financial hub, tighter business regulations and calls for greater emphasis on due diligence in business.

European-headquartered banks are still hiring bean-counters in the Lion City, but cash-strapped American firms are less active, observes Steve Parkes from Michael Page International. Hiring is across the board and not just at a senior level.

Parkes predicts that accountants at banks should see salaries stay steady next year, although certain individuals might see a 4-7% increase in remuneration.

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