If you’re working in finance in Singapore, you have reason to be fearful for the future of your career. As we reported last week, a major new report has found that a third of job functions in the Singapore finance sector are under threat because of data analytics and automation over the next three to five years. And the jobs classed at ‘high risk’ from technological advances aren’t only in retail banking – traders and corporate bankers could soon find themselves out of work or having to retrain, according to the report, which was commissioned by the Institute of Banking and Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
The outlook for banking jobs in Singapore is not entirely gloomy, however. The report concludes that the overall headcount in the local finance industry won’t necessarily shrink, in part because (to state the obvious) there will be more jobs in technology and data functions.
That’s not the only good news. There are several non-tech banking jobs that will become more in demand in three to five years – those which automation will only have a ‘low impact’ on, according to the report. Which are the safest jobs in Singapore banking? Within investment banking there are three: product structurers, institutional salespeople, and senior investment bankers.
Senior bankers will be especially pleased to make the list, given that global banks from Goldman Sachs to Standard Chartered have focused recent job cuts on their upper ranks and brought in younger staff in their stead (a process known as juniorisation). But when it comes to being replaced by robots, experienced bankers now seem more secure. This is because their success depends “heavily” on building client relationships (tech can’t do that), and because many of their non-core tasks have already been automated. Tech supports rather than threatens investment bankers – behavioural analytics, for example, can help them prioritise client relationships.
Institutional sales professionals also have a bright future at investment banks in Singapore because they are “shifting away from execution-focused tasks” and are “increasingly helping clients to decide when to execute a trade most effectively”, playing an “advisor-role”. AI-powered tools can help them with “data-driven trade recommendations”.
The “highly bespoke nature” of product structurer jobs at investment banks means there will be minimal replacement of tasks by technology. “The difficulty in replacing tasks within the role is mainly due to the ambiguity of client demands – at times, the role needs to determine the objectives of the client before proceeding to the structuring phase,” says the report, adding that AI-powered tech, such as linguistic search algorithms, can help structurers reduce the time they spend on research.
There are other low-risk jobs in Singapore beyond investment banking, including (within corporate banking) credit recovery managers, product developers and product salespeople. It also looks like private bankers will remain in high demand in Singapore for the foreseeable future, despite the rise of self-service digital platforms for private clients. Bankers will need to get more tech savvy to better serve an increasingly young client base in Singapore, however.
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