Permanent recruitment in the banking and financial services space, both for front and back office, has been very active during the last six months of 2017.
For front office, demand surged for client-facing professionals, especially in the retail banking sector, as banks were eager to fill their headcount and budget allocation for 2017.
For middle and back offices, besides the traditionally hot and niche areas including trade finance, we also saw, in financial services companies such as hedge fund and asset management firms, the phenomenon of many operations roles made open.
Within the middle office area, there were increased hiring for project managers. In the past few months within this area, we also observed massive hiring exercises for client onboarding and KYC talent.
Corporate governance continued its prominence
The corporate governance function has been extremely hot. Specifically, credit and market risk hiring, as well as compliance advisory roles, have seen an upturn. Within credit risk, the private banking and financial institution credit approvers have been in demand. At the same time, firms need prospective employees to have prior regional credit approval experience. As such, these have made professionals in this airea relatively scarce.
Due to regulatory requirements such as IFRS 9 and the ongoing MAS IWST, the need for credit risk modellers has also risen. With the IFRS 9 deadline coming up in 2018, there is definitely a need for an all hands on deck in adopting IFRS 9. Market risk analytics has also been a hot area in the recent months.
Within the audit area, there has been a high demand for IT Auditors, across both application and infrastructure. There is a huge focus on digital banking, with banks paying importance to the rise of mobile banking and fintech.
Another interesting area that we noticed in terms of hiring is data analytics audit. Professionals were in demand even if they come from the data analytics industry, and due to niche requirements, banks have been open to hiring those without any prior audit experience.
The usual business audit areas across credit and treasury have been quite busy, but at the same time, it has been a market relatively short of talent. This was especially apparent in Q4 2017 as many candidates were hesitant to move due to the upcoming bonus pay-outs.
A look into the months ahead in 2018
We are expecting hiring activity to be cautious in January and February 2018, but this will likely pick up after Chinese New Year as it has been a recurring trend of high attrition at the end of February spilling into March, especially for front office area roles.
From a broad perspective, for 2018, we will have a lot to see in the corporate governance area. In order to meet the requirements of ongoing regulations, we expect a rise in demand for new hires in this area. With the IFRS 9’s first deadline, there will be revisions made, and this will result in more growth in the credit risk hiring across analytics and modelling. For market risk, although the equities market might not be an area of focus for 2018, other traditional asset classes such as forex and fixed income will need the market risk management team to support on the performance monitoring of trades taken by the front office traders.
With smaller fintech start-up firms receiving banking licenses, we may see a shift of talent from banking firms to these start-up firms. Although this move may be risky for professionals, some may see a lot of potential in the move to fintech start-ups.
Banking & Financial Services
Salary Report for H1 2018*
*Notes about salary table:
- Titles and levels vary from organisation to organisation.
- The salary ranges given are only approximate guides. For tailored salary advice, please contact us directly.
- 12-month base salaries are assumed.
- All other benefits and bonuses are in addition to these figures.
- 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.
- Holiday entitlements range from 12–25 days with senior executives not usually receiving less than 18 days. Less than 15 is very rare and 20 days is becoming the norm.
- Healthcare policies are standard.
- Pension plans vary with some companies offering greater than the standard contribution. Top up schemes can increase employer contribution levels as much as 15–20% of the base salary for senior executives.