OCBC added 514 employees to its ranks in the year to end-March, a hiring drive that was partly fuelled by extra headcount in private banking, according to its first quarter financial results. While the recruitment – which takes OCBC’s staff numbers to 29,958 – was eclipsed by rivals DBS and UOB, it is still significant in the context of a tight labour market in Singapore.
Where are all these new OCBC banking jobs? The firm’s report doesn’t break this down, but it provides some hints. OCBC has added employees to its private banking offshoot, Bank of Singapore (BoS). Overall wealth management operating expenses (which include BoS) rose 6% year on year to S$1.1bn in Q1, partly due to “higher staff costs”.
Hiring new relationship managers (who bring new client assets with them) helped improve net new money inflows at BoS and drove assets under management to a new high of US$108bn from US$102bn a year previously. BoS’s headcount of RMs increase by 20 to reach 450 last year, giving it the fourth highest RM workforce of any private bank in Asia, according to new data from Asian Private Banker. The new hires included bankers for a team set up last year to support external asset managers.
It’s likely that BoS has hired more RMs so far this year because most front-office recruitment happens in Q1 and early Q2, after bonuses are paid. Any new recruits in Q1 have come onboard at an opportune time. Wealth management-related income (which also includes products such as asset management and stockbroking) increased 27% from a year ago to S$921m and represented 34% of the firm’s total income in Q1.
If your job at OCBC is focused on selling investment banking products, however, the Q1 results only serve to highlight the comparative insignificance of your role. Gross fee and commission income from IB products was up year on year, but only amounted to S$25m.
OCBC’s new financial results make no mention of investments in technology, which is surprising given that DBS and UOB’s Q1 reports both highlight rises in tech-related costs. However, recruiters in Singapore say OCBC has been increasing its tech and digital headcount, which partly explains its overall jump in staff numbers. OCBC currently has 80 tech vacancies on its website, including several to support Bank of Singapore. The firm’s Q3 2018 results stated that “technology and digital investments” had “strongly contributed” to its recent business expansion.
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Image credit: RomanBabakin, Getty