B&Fs Q3

Banking & Financial Services Market Insights Q3 2017

Published on 20th July 2017

Despite the economic uncertainty around the world and some areas of hiring being flat in Q2 2017, certain areas within the Banking & Financial Services market in Singapore have been optimistic and hiring activity has been relatively strong.

Although many international banks have offshored large parts of their back office functions to lower cost locations, the busiest areas were within the middle and back offices. As expected, a lot of hiring has been within the Regulatory and Governance space. We have also seen an increase in hiring from mid-sized international and local banks.

Lack of headcount and rise of temporary staffing

In Q2 2017, temporary and contract hiring was extremely active among banks, including top-tier international banks. This is due to the lack of permanent headcount approvals, resulting from cost-cutting measures amidst an uncertain economic outlook.

We have seen banks opening up a wide range of positions, either for project work or for backfilling permanent employees pulled from their daily duties onto these projects, which are mainly in the areas of KYC/Client Due Diligence, Compliance/AML and Risk. Tighter regulations on financial institutions have resulted in the high demand for experienced KYC/AML professionals.

The other area of high talent demand was for finance roles to cater for the implementation of IFRS 9 and the introduction of Basel 4 in 2018. 

Desire for change amidst lack of permanent roles

Competition for jobs among professionals within Banking & Financial Services has been high due to lack of permanent headcount. 

We saw an increasing number of permanent employees who were open to considering contract roles, motivated by the decreasing variable bonuses and a perceived lack of career progression as their functions were offshored. They also desired a change of working environment, wanted to pick up new skills and sought potentially higher base salaries offered in contract roles. 

Job seekers who were more flexible on their requirements and availability have been having an advantage in securing a job with their ideal employer. There have been contracting roles which offered the possibility of further extension, or as the opportunity arises, the conversion to permanent.

Regulatory Reporting and FP&A professionals in demand

Key skillsets in demand within finance in Q2 2017 were Regulatory Reporting, largely due to the new IAS9 implementation. Professionals skilled in Financial Planning & Analysis/Business Finance were also in demand.

Growing need for Trade Finance, Hedge Funds Ops and Fund Ops talent

In Q2 2017, within operations, we were seeing Trade Finance roles in high demand as business volume picked up. There was also a similar level of demand within Hedge Fund Operations as more bankers were moved into alternative investment businesses. Private Equity growth has also increased the demand for Fund Accounting and Operations professionals.

Regulations continued to boost Compliance talent demand

For Compliance, in Q2 2017 we have seen a significant hiring activity both for newly created and replacement roles. 

Singapore has always been committed to implementing a robust regulatory and supervisory regime related to AML, CFT and Financial Sanctions. This demanded more compliance gatekeepers to help avoid heavy fines, prevent bad market reputation and counter money laundering. 

Good Compliance talent remained scarce

Compliance recruitment has been highly competitive. The lack of high-calibre talent with the relevant exposure and immigration rules remained the biggest challenge for most banks and financial firms. Job seekers with skillsets in Compliance Regulatory, Compliance Advisory, KYC (Know Your Customer) or COB (Client on Boarding) were in high demand.

IFRS 9 sent ripples for Risk hiring

With IFRS 9 being implemented as a market standard, Market Risk and Credit Risk professionals skilled in IFRS 9 impairment modelling were in demand. Banks and NBFIs required individuals with credit risk backgrounds to also have an understanding of expected credit losses (ECL).

Credit risk teams need the hands-on manpower they can have as they move towards project completion and effect of IFRS 9 in 2018. Since this is a relatively new standard, banks and NBFIs have been open to, despite the steep learning curve, professionals experienced in corporate and wholesale credit models. Professionals with IFRS 9 certification typically had an edge over other job seekers.

Shortage of senior Internal Audit professionals

Internal Audit hiring, though not as optimistic as the past two years during which banks in Singapore were growing their audit functions, has continued to be active in Q2 2017.

While banks often hired straight from the Big 4 for more junior positions, it was not the same for mid- to senior-level positions as there was a shortage of these professionals. Competition for such talent, compounded by requirements for hires to be Singapore citizens, has been fierce across both Business and Technology Audit areas. 

As audit functions expanded and teams became more specialised in their focus, we were seeing an increasing number of potential hires as Subject Matter Experts coming from the business or from 2nd line moving into the 3rd line of defence. This did bolster candidate numbers to an extent but best people often held multiple offers.

Competition for M&A and PE talent in the front office

Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Private Equity (PE) activities have been optimistic, which created a high demand for top talent from Big 4 firms, management consultancies, banks and PE firms. These talent are hard-to-find from both global and local perspectives.

Offshore Banking Relationship Managers were also in demand for offshore markets besides Indonesia, especially for Malaysia, South Asia, and Greater China. Indonesia, despite being one of the biggest offshore markets, has been cooling down due to the recent Indonesian Tax Amnesty. Indonesian clients were investing less in Singapore, resulting in tough times for Offshore Relationship Managers of these clients. Hence, more emphasis has been on business development with clients in the other offshore markets.

Commodities: Hiring in the middle and back offices

In the past quarter, we saw commodities trading firms going through restructuring and discontinuing some trading products. The majority of the roles we have seen in Q2 this year have been in the middle and back offices.  

Due to low commodity prices and thin margins, most trading firms have looked to increase their trading volume and diversify their client portfolios in order to make up for their decreasing sales revenue. We saw firms increasing capacity and improving the efficiency of their Operations functions, as well as hiring for Risk-related middle office roles.

Looking ahead into Q3 2017

We expect similar hiring trends to continue in Q3 of this year. Hiring in this sector will remain optimistic in certain areas, especially in Regulatory and Corporate Governance. In times of economic uncertainty, contracting will continue to grow as a viable option for both the employer and job seeker in the Banking & Financial Services sector. 

Banking & Financial Services
Salary Report for Q3 2017*

Job title Years of experience Annual salary range (S$)
Audit / Internal Control
Head of Audit / Internal Control / Operational Risk 15+ 280K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 180K–250K
Vice President 12–15 140K–200K
Assistant Vice President 7–12 80K–145K
Analyst / Associate 1–8 45K–90K

Head of Compliance 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 180K–250K
Vice President 12–15 130K–200K
Assistant Vice President 7–12 80K–130K
Senior Associate 3–7 60K–90K
Compliance Officer / Analyst 1–3 40K–80K

Credit Risk
Head of Credit Risk 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 12+ 160K–250K
Vice President 10–12 130K–160K
Assistant Vice President 6–10 85K–130K
Associate 3–5 60K–90K
Analyst 1–3 45K–65K

Market Risk
Head of Market Risk 15+ 300K+
Senior Vice President 12+ 180K–280K
Vice President 10–12 140K–180K
Assistant Vice President 6–10 85K–140K
Associate 3–5 60K–90K
Analyst 1–3 45K–65K

Operational Risk
Head of Operational Risk 15+ 280K+
Senior Vice President 12+ 180K–280K
Vice President 10–12 120K–180K
Assistant Vice President 6–10 70K–120K
Associate 3–5 50K–70K
Analyst 1–3 40K–50K

Regional Chief Financial Officer 15+ 330K–500K
Country Chief Financial Officer 12+ 210K–330K

Management Reporting / Financial Planning & Analysis
Head of Management Reporting 15+ 300K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 200K–280K
Vice President 12–15 140K–200K
Assistant Vice President 7–12 80K–140K
Management Accountant 3–6 60K–90K
Junior Accountant / Analyst 1–3 40K–60K

Regulatory Reporting / Financial Accounting
Regional Financial Controller 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 180K–220K
Vice President 12–15 150K–180K
Assistant Vice President 7–12 80K–150K
Accountant 3–6 60K–90K
Junior Accountant 1–3 45K–70K

Product Control
Head of Product Control 15+ 280K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 200K–280K
Vice President 10–15 130K–200K
Assistant Vice President 6–12 85K–130K
Associate 3–6 60K–90K
Analyst 1–3 40K–60K

Head of Tax (large bank) 15+ 220K–300K
Head of Tax (small bank) 12–15 180K–280K
Senior Vice President 15+ 180K–220K
Vice President 12–15+ 140K–180K
Assistant Vice President 7–12 80K–140K
Tax Accountant 3–7 50K–80K

Head of Operations 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 12+ 180K–250K
Vice President 12–15 140K–180K
Assistant Vice President 7–10 80K–140K
Associate 3–7 60K–80K
Analyst 1–3 40K–60K

Middle Office 
Head of Middle Office 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 180K–250K
Vice President 12–15 140K–180K
Assistant Vice President 7–10 80K–140K
Associate 3–7 60K–80K
Analyst 1 – 3 40K–60K

Client Services
Head of Client Services 15+ 250K+
Senior Vice President 12+ 180K–250K
Vice President 12–15 140K–180K
Assistant Vice President 7–10 80K–140K
Associate 3–7 60K–80K
Analyst 1–3 40K–60K

Project Management
Head of Project Management 15+ 280K+
Senior Vice President 15+ 200K–250K
Vice President 12–15 150K–200K
Assistant Vice President 7–10 80K–150K
Associate 3–7 60K–80K
Analyst 1–3 45K–60K

Soft Commodity Trading 
Head of Trading 15+ 250K+
Senior Trader 8–15 150K–250K
Trader  3–8 70K–150K
Assistant Trader  1–3 40K–70K

Hard Commodity Trading
Head of Trading 15+ 300K+
Senior Trader 8–15 180K–300K
Trader  3–8 90K–180K
Assistant Trader  1–3 45K–90K

Commodity Middle Office 
Head of Middle Office 10 150K+
Senior Middle Officer 5–10 100K–150K
Middle Officer 1–5 45K–100K

Commodity Operations 
Head of Operations 15+ 120K+
Senior Operations Executive 10–15 70K–120K
Operations Executive 4–10 50K–70K
Operations Officer 1–3 40K–50K

Head of Chartering  12+ 200K+
Senior Charterer  5–12 150K–200K
Charterer  3–5 80K–150K


*Notes about salary table:

  1. Titles and levels vary from organisation to organisation.
  2. The salary ranges given are only approximate guides. For tailored salary advice, please contact us directly.
  3. 12-month base salaries are assumed.
  4. All other benefits and bonuses are in addition to these figures.
  5. Bonus ranges can vary significantly from company to company and will be influenced by market conditions, business and individual performances. Bonus ranges from 1 month at the low end to 100%+ at the upper.
  6. Holiday entitlements range from 1225 days with senior executives not usually receiving less than 18 days. Less than 15 is very rare and 20 days is becoming the norm.
  7. Healthcare policies are standard.
  8. Pension plans vary with some companies offering greater than the standard contribution. Top up schemes can increase employer contribution levels as much as 1520% of the base salary for senior executives.