If you’re a graduate choosing a job in the Singapore finance sector, equity research probably isn’t your top choice. Banks like Deutsche, Credit Suisse and Barclays have been culling Asian equities jobs (including research ones), Asian stock markets have been tanking, and Mifid has been stirring up global headwinds for researchers.
But equity research jobs could soon be making a comeback in the city state, say recruiters. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently unveiled its three-year S$75m Grant for Equity Market Singapore (GEMS). MAS, perhaps wary that equity research is on the wane as a career option, wants to “groom a pipeline of equity research analysts and retain experienced research talent”.
While Government plans to boost the finance sector certainly aren’t unusual in Singapore, this one at least has a monetary sting in its tail. It includes a ‘research talent development grant’ to subsidise 70% of the salaries for graduate equity researchers, and 50% of the salaries for newly-hired experienced researchers.
MAS is due to release more details of the initiative before its launch on 14 February. However, it seems unlikely that the funding will subsidise pay beyond the first year or two of employment. Researchers don’t come cheap: analyst-level ones earn between S$60k and S$90k annually in Singapore, while VPs can take home as much as S$200k, according to a 2019 salary survey from recruiters Robert Walters.
Still, although GEMS has its limits, recruiters in Singapore believe it will trigger more equity research recruitment.
Alongside the pay subsidies, the initiative includes a grant to help defray IPO costs for companies listing on the Singapore Exchange (this could potentially boost ECM hiring, as we’ve already reported). “Given that more companies will be looking to list in Singapore, demand for equity research professionals will increase, because their insights into a company or sector – which will also help investors decide on fund allocation – will become more vital,” says Serena Fernando, a financial services consultant at recruiters Robert Walters.
“This new MAS funding should see Singapore benefit from resurgent capital flows to the region,” says Raghav Kapoor, CEO of investment platform Smartkarma. “However, this doesn’t undermine the need to innovate away from tired research business models, as is evident from MAS’s fintech programme.”
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