Banks in Singapore are now pitching themselves against large technology firms for IT talent – and not always successfully. As we’ve reported over the past few months, companies such as Google, Amazon and Grab are increasingly taking on technologists from the finance sector.
Compensation, however, has traditionally been one of banks’ main selling points to technology candidates. So how do banking tech salaries in Singapore stack up? We’ve averaged out SGD base salaries from five 2019 recruiter pay surveys across 14 key banking tech jobs in Singapore (from analyst to director level) to produce the table below.
While at director level there is little difference in average pay between the functions (they mostly sit in the S$240k to S$250k range), junior and mid-level professionals are typically earning more money by specialising in emerging technologies such as cloud engineering, DevOps, data science, and artificial intelligence.
Singapore has transformed from a tech-support hub to an engineering hub in the space of just three years, which has created talent shortages in emerging tech, Soh Siew Choo, head of consumer banking and big data analytics technology at DBS, told us last month. Recruiters expect salaries in the so-called ABCD fields (automation, blockchain, cloud, data) to rise more rapidly over the next two years, so expect wider variations in tech pay in the future.
“All banks in Singapore are hiring cloud engineers. The race is on to migrate their data away from expensive and dated IT systems, and onto modern scalable platforms that are more efficient and cost effective,” says Simon Ranahan, associate director of technology at recruiters Pure Search. “Demand for public cloud services like AWS and Azure is increasing all the time," adds Adam Davies, lead IT recruiter at iKas International. “And Singapore is also in relatively short supply of DevOps engineers, so salaries in both sectors are going up.”
Banks such as DBS, Standard Chartered, Citi and OCBC are also increasingly hiring data scientists. “Data scientists are highly sought after as banks harness massive amounts of consumer and internal business data, helping to predict the behaviour of their consumers, partners and investors, and helping to develop new products,” says Paolo Hiceta, manager of technology at recruiters Hudson. “We see demand for people with Java, Spark, Hadoop, and Python automation and data-unification skills rising in the next two years.”
No matter what the job, the biggest challenge for banks trying to hire technologists in Singapore is “the talent pool”, says Ranahan from Pure Search. “When you have a combination of banks, consultancies, vendors and fintech startups all trying to attract the same talent, the demand simply outgrows the supply,” he says.
In rare cases, banks will offer 50% salary increases to poach top-performing technologists in the most sought-after fields, says Davies from iKas. If you work in DevOps at associate level and earn the average salary of S$120k, for example, such a rise would see your pay jump to S$180k. “But while banks tend to offer the highest base salaries, the tech firms and startups will be more generous around stock or equity, which offers a much greater upside if the business succeeds,” says Ranahan.
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