If you’re looking for a job at one of Singapore’s three local banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – you stand a much better chance of getting in if you work in technology.
Our analysis of the banks’ careers websites shows that more than a quarter (27%) of current Singapore-based vacancies across all three firms are in tech-related roles, including digital banking and data jobs as well as those that require coding skills. DBS – which, perhaps a little optimistically, now calls itself a ‘23,000-person start-up’ – leads the pack when it comes to tech recruitment. Almost 40% of its openings are in this function, as the table below shows.
All three banks are hiring programmers, designers, project managers and other candidates as they launch new digital platforms and upgrade others. In August, OCBC rolled out its algorithm-based investment service, RoboInvest, to retail customers, while earlier this year UOB released a new forex app, Mighty FX. DBS and OCBC are also moving more development roles in-house instead of using technology vendors.
“The recent growth of our tech unit is crazy, but it still isn’t being resourced quickly enough to support the digital transformation objectives of the business,” says an insider at one of the banks, who asked not to be named.
DBS is trying to boost the speed and volume of its tech recruitment by running an annual hackathon in Singapore, Hack2Hire, in which techies work in teams to solve real-life business problems. The firm aims to take on about 100 people a year via this event – including scrum masters, mobile application developers, full stack developers, DevOps engineers, QA engineers, and UI/UX developers – with successful candidates offered jobs within the same day.
UOB announced a new hiring drive earlier this month aimed at increasing its 120-strong digital bank team by 50% over the next year. But none of the three firms are finding it straightforward to hire the tech talent they need, according to agency recruiters whose clients include DBS, OCBC and UOB.
Recruitment is challenging not just because volumes are increasing, but also because the tech jobs on offer at these banks typically now demand more specialist, hard-to-find skills than they did just two or three years ago. Business-as-usual vacancies focused on legacy systems or hardware infrastructure are declining in popularity as DBS, OCBC and UOB seek people in emerging fields such as machine learning and data science.
OCBC’s current vacancies, for example, include a blockchain analyst, cloud application specialist, and Hadoop big data product support expert, according to its careers site. Local talent in these areas – and others, such as cyber security – is thin on the ground because the supply of candidates has not caught up with recent surges in demand from banks. Employment Pass restrictions have also made it more difficult to hire technologists, in particular junior ones, from overseas.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s domestic banks are competing not just with each other for technologists but with global banks in the Republic, some of whom are now expanding in technology following years of offshoring to India and other lower-cost locations. JP Morgan, for example, employs 1,000 Singapore-based staff working in tech, and its recruitment is also focused on emerging technology, including robotics, machine learning and chatbots. Tech firms such as Google, Grab and AWS also sometimes recruit similar skillsets to DBS, OCBC and UOB – and some of their new local recruits have come from the banking sector.
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