But away from the front office, there’s still strong demand for certain candidates in Singapore and Hong Kong as we head into the second quarter.
Here’s who recruiters in Asia want to hire over the coming months.
Banks in Asia are investing heavily in new online customer platforms – last year, for example, Credit Suisse rolled out a new mobile platform for its wealthy private clients in the region. This is triggering a surge in demand for ‘full-stack’ engineers – skilled in both back and front-end programming technologies – within digital banking, says Farida Charania, Asia Pacific CEO of search firm Nastrac Group.
“Compliance audit is in demand because compliance is still expanding within most banks in Asia,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director of recruiters Hays in Singapore. “And when a business unit expands the team responsible for auditing it must also hire new people. But compliance audit is a niche role and talent is in extremely short supply because of all the new hiring.”
Operational risk has long been a sought-after job in Asia, but banks are now poaching more Big Four auditors to fill skills shortages in the function, says Maggie Li, an associate director at recruitment agency Randstad in Hong Kong. “Banks value auditors because of their experience in gap analysis of clients’ operational processes – this can be easily transferable into an operational risk role.”
Relationship managers (RMs) in corporate banking are being fed fewer of the firm's current clients when they move employers as banks put them under more pressure to source new business from scratch. “The ‘hunter’ trait is becoming highly appealing in the current market,” says Li. “RMs are now increasingly expected to come into banks and soon start securing new clients.”
“Data analytics is definitely a growth area in Asia when you look at the amount of data currently available at banks and the need to make sound judgement calls based on manipulation of this data,” says Richard Aldridge, a director at recruiters Black Swan Group in Singapore. “So people with a highly numerate and quantitative background – with experience using packages like BusinessObjects, IDEA and Tableau – are in demand. These roles potentially sit in any area of the bank – such as driving audit or risk assessment plans.”
“Compliance in asset management is a hot area of recruitment in both Hong Kong and Singapore,” says Anton Murray, director of search firm Anton Murray Consulting. “Given the increasing regulatory burden on asset managers in Asia, many are bulking up their mandate-monitoring compliance teams.” Demand is strongest for mid and senior-level candidates on salaries of between US$100k and $US200k, he adds. A small local talent pool means funds managers are often willing to relocate specialists from overseas.
Banks in Asia have long been trying to curtail hiring costs by employing more in-house recruiters in their human resources teams – but now their focus is on so-called ‘HR business partners’, who work more closely with senior managers to develop staffing strategies. “There’s high demand for them across Asia as banks look to optimise hiring processes,” says Nick Wells of search firm Alicorn Chase in Singapore. “It’s a plentiful skill set in Europe and the US, but proactive and ‘out of the box’ HR thinkers who are able to partner with MDs are light on the ground in Asian HR.”
What’s the hottest skill set in the middle office in Asia? Financial crime. “Banks are scrutinised and audited more and more frequently in areas such as anti-money laundering, sanctions, anti-bribery and corruption. So they need more people to ensure compliance to all financial-crime related regulations,” says Orelia Chan, a senior manager at recruiters Robert Walters in Singapore.
Image credit: Serhiy Stakhnyk, iStock, Thinkstock