Standard Chartered is making modest managerial job cuts in Singapore, but its newly granted regulatory status in the country means its local workforce, which currently stands at 10,000, should expand over the long term. The firm’s standing as a ‘significantly rooted foreign bank’ (SRFB) in Singapore will boost recruitment, could ultimately lead to new jobs in digital banking, and could make it easier for Stan Chart to transfer some operations to the Republic from Hong Kong, say recruiters.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday named Stan Chart as the first SRFB under a licencing framework that was first announced in 2012 and takes into account factors such as the alignment of the bank’s economic interests with Singapore’s, its local business presence, and its long-term commitment to Singapore's financial stability and development.
Stan Chart is now allowed to establish up to 50 ‘places of business’ – double its current cap – of which up to 35 may be branches, according to a statement on the MAS website. Stan Chart has 18 buildings in Singapore, including 16 branches.
While Stan Chart is unlikely to reach its maximum office allowance anytime soon – especially as Covid-19 has created long-term doubts about bricks-and-mortar banking – the firm’s new status will likely lead to a small uptick in its Singapore branch numbers once the pandemic is over, say recruiters. This will trigger front-office hiring in wealth management, and retail and commercial banking in 2021 and beyond.
Patrick Lee, chief executive of Stan Chart in Singapore, said in a statement that the bank will review its strategy and development plans after becoming an SRFB, “with a view to invest more and further deepen our presence in Singapore”. Stan Chart declined to comment on the specific job implications.
MAS also announced on Monday that it will boost the SRFB framework in the future, so that an SRFB that “substantially exceeds the criteria for significant rootedness in Singapore may be given additional privileges, including the ability to establish a separate subsidiary to develop alternative business models”.
Stan Chart, which bases many of its group management team in Singapore, may well meet these extended requirements, which are based on attributes including having a significant portion of global leaders in the country. Stan Chart could then create a stand-alone digital bank, if it were granted a licence to do so in the future. The firm is launching a virtual bank, Mox, in Hong Kong later this year, and has been hiring for the new unit since 2018.
“The SRFB status cements Stan Chart’s commitment to Singapore and allows it to increase its places of business. But more importantly, it likely paves the way for it to operate separate subsidiaries,” says Gary Lai, managing director at Charterhouse Partnership. “Having a separate digital-only full banking license would fuel job growth in the digital, analytics, technology and AI space, further reinforcing Singapore as Standard Chartered’s global operational and innovation HQ,” he adds.
Another recruiter, who asked not to be named, says Stan Chart may now find it easier to move parts of its business from Hong Kong to Singapore, if needed. “The recent increased political uncertainty in Hong Kong has caused nervousness among institutional investors, and although the majority of financial institutions are still watching how the business climate might be impacted, having the SRFB status provides the flexibility for SCB, if required, to transfer more operations into Singapore,” says the recruiter.
Stan Chart’s Singapore headcount has risen from 8,000 to 10,000 since 2018, of which more than 1,200 roles are in what it calls “future growth areas”, including digital banking, cyber security, data solutions, analytics, cloud, AI architecture, API, and DevOps.
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