Where the Finance Jobs Are – A Singapore Perspective

Risk professionals in particular are in-demand and will likely see pay rises, although perhaps more from performance-related bonuses than actual salary increases. “The increasing regulatory environment also means those with good Basel III knowledge are in short supply,” the survey notes.

Along with risk staff being in demand, Fowlston said treasury, taxation and internal audit staff can command a premium and may enjoy salary increases of 10-15%. Operations, on the other hand, are less of a focus for financial institutions, so salaries are likely to change relatively little.   

While responses to a recent survey by the firm showed that more than 70% of individuals in Singapore want to move to a different company, any movement towards jobs that are in demand is unlikely to happen immediately. Instead, Fowlston expects that there will be a greater flow of candidates ready to leave their jobs in financial services once they get through bonus season in January and February. The demand for talent is also likely to lead to more counter-offers, which will lead to some level of wage inflation.

To deal with the shortage of skills in particular areas, more companies are also now willing to make an investment in people who are not equipped to do the job immediately. They are instead hiring people with some of the skills they need so that they can train them on the others later.

When companies want to find staff, managing director Simon Bradberry said, they may need to turn to referrals more than social media. Recent Robert Walters surveys showed that 99% of respondents would consider a job opportunity recommended by a friend or colleague, and responses from companies showed that less than 5% of their hiring comes through social media. Fowlston added that his company’s biggest source of candidates is through referrals. That said, Bradberry expects changes in 2014 as mobile devices and social media continue to have a greater impact, so companies will need to offer a better online experience.

Companies that do want to hire will need to offer more than just a higher salary, especially since it is a candidate-driven market for skills that are in-demand. Along with a higher salary, local staff in Singapore are looking for a better work-life balance as well as regional opportunities, and companies that can offer packages with multiple components will have an advantage.

While 2014 may not be an especially buoyant market for financial service professionals, there is clear demand for staff in certain specialties and those staff can command a premium. Clearly, though, companies need to do things differently than before if they are to reach the highly qualified staff they say they need and bring them on board.

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