Goldman Sachs claims it’s a technology company. In Asia, DBS is peddling a similar line as its chief innovation officer Neal Cross benchmarks the bank against big tech companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Google.
Meanwhile, recruiters at several major banks in Hong Kong recently told us that they have more vacancies in technology than in any other job function. But which particular skills within banking technology in Hong Kong and Singapore are most in demand, and why? We spoke to IT recruiters to find out.
Kotlin, a development language launched in 2011 and rooted in Android mobile development, has “burst out in popularity” as a back-end language in banking over the last month alone, says Joshua Spark, associate director of regional technology at LMA recruitment in Singapore. “Praised for expressive power, compilation speed, and interoperability with Java, programs can be converted to Kotlin with a right click,” he adds. “It offers less code, which is more compact and readable than Java, and suits engineers at banks seeking efficiency within tight deadlines. Current ground-up builds are increasingly using Kotlin, and developers in Asia are rushing to upskill.”
“Banks in Singapore are modernising their development functions and incorporating DevOps processes and tools to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and save on replicating tasks,” says Michael Nette, director of technology at recruiters Ambition. “But there aren’t enough quality candidates with DevOps experience, so people with skills in scripting languages – including Python, Go and Ruby – and automation are highly sought after.”
Banks in Hong Kong have traditionally outsourced application security work, such as penetration testing and code reviews, but they are now looking to build internal teams, says King. “There’s a shortage of candidates who have the desired in-house experience. To counter this, banks are looking abroad for talent, and are becoming more willing to train new hires,” he adds. “People with the OSCP certification and who understand what goes on behind the scenes when using the various tools on Kali Linux are in demand.”
Many large businesses in Asia are hiring technologists to move their systems to the cloud. In banking, however, demand for cloud expertise is even higher, says Faiz Modak, manager of IT applications and infrastructure at recruiters Robert Walters. “Banks in particular face a hurdle as they have to adhere to Monetary Authority of Singapore regulations and strict internal guidelines when operating on the cloud.”
“Data engineers and scientists are highly sought after as banks in Asia 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 in Singapore. “We see demand for people with Java, Spark, Hadoop, and Python automation and data-unification skills rising in Asia in the next two years.”
As we’ve been reporting over the past few months, banks in Asia (most recently OCBC) have been poaching senior cyber security experts from each other. Demand for talent is strong at all levels, however. “Cyber security professionals who are skilled in cloud and mesh infrastructures set-ups and proficient with PCI DSS, COBIT, SOX, and ISO 27001 are very sought after,” says Hiceta. “A cyber attack can lead to huge regulatory fines in addition to reputational loss, so banks in Singapore are investing heavily in cybersecurity and offering more jobs,” adds Shinjika Shukla, an associate director at recruiters Michael Page in Singapore.
Banks increasingly want candidates with the above technical skills and the ability to work closely with the front office, says Ashwin Dinesh, a senior manager at Randstad Technologies. “The tech candidates they seek now often need to also play a business-partner role within the bank. This means having a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities on the digital front in order to develop the right digital solutions in the complex banking environment.”
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