The banking and financial services industry saw an active hiring market spurred by the post-pandemic recovery at the start of 2022. This resulted in companies making higher salary offers to attract talent from a limited pool of skilled professionals.

Even in the current market, there are still more jobs than job seekers, indicating that the gap between what companies are looking for and the availability of skilled talent still remains.

Just when everyone is adjusting to market recovery from the pandemic-related economic slowdown over the past 2 years, it seems that the banking and financial services sector hasn’t been able to catch a break. Crypto winter, a slump in client trading activities and growing fears of a recession have resulted in consumers, corporate and institutional investors becoming more prudent.

Going into the second half of 2022, Randstad expects to see a more muted recruitment market within the banking and financial services space.

In light of rising inflation and a bleak global economic outlook, banks and financial institutions are keeping a closer eye on their liquidity while investors are taking a more conservative approach towards investing and borrowing.

Whether we’re in a bearish or bullish market, opportunities will still present themselves. Over the next few months, recession-proof functions such as risk and compliance will continue to be in demand.

In Randstad Singapore’s 2022 Employer Brand Research, 1 in 3 financial professionals said that they plan to change employers despite the uncertainties ahead.

must-watch talent movements banking and finance
must-watch talent movements banking and finance

must-watch talent movements in the banking and financial services sector

1. front office professionals are still in-demand

More front office professionals are seeking new job opportunities with employers that can offer a better career progression or a more competitive package, especially for those who have been holding out for better opportunities over the past 2 years. This is also true for professionals who expect their current employers to tighten the company’s operating budget in the next few months.

For example, there are opportunities for offshore private and priority bankers, corporate and commercial bankers with regional portfolios and investment bankers to grow in their roles. They could acquire more customer accounts, manage higher asset under management (AUM) from high-net-worth (HNW) clients or secure mandates from the regional markets which have been delayed over the past two years.

2. talent movements expected in compliance and risk management

We expect to see some talent movements of senior and middle-level compliance and risk management professionals as they look for both career growth opportunities and exposure to new industries like fintech.

In anticipation of a higher economic growth and more stringent regulatory requirements and reportings, banks are seeking qualified talent with a track record in navigating the regulatory landscape and new financial policies.

Front-middle job functions like KYC and client due diligence, trade support and global market operations are expected to be in-demand throughout the second half of 2022. Tax planning and compliance in particular within the private banking segment are also expected to pick up during this period.

3. fintech and digital banks are going full-force

As people become increasingly aware of the volatility and tightening regulations in the cryptocurrency market, more talent are attracted to digital banks as well as other more established and stable fintechs such as payments, insurtech and regtech.

Singapore’s fintech industry has managed to capture a bigger share of global investments, doubling its market share by deal value from 3.1% in 2021 to 6.4% in Q2 of 2022. With fintech covering the domains of climate change, supply chain, market infrastructure, artificial intelligence and agritech, we expect to see more business growth and new jobs from the industry.

Fintech firms are positioning themselves differently from traditional banks to attract skilled and professional talent. What contributes to the employer brand attractiveness the fintech industry is that they put greater focus on employee's career growth, reflecting the experimental working environment that is not often seen in traditional banks which are more structured in nature.

Within the fintech ecosystem, it is more important to employers that their staff take the initiative to upskill on-the-job and learn through partnerships and collaborations. These learning opportunities are highly valued by employees, which would help prevent talent loss as well as boost morale and competitiveness within the organisation.

Likewise, working professionals also have a different set of expectations when it comes to working for a fintech employer. Career growth opportunities are very attractive, but banking and financial professionals are not compromising on total remuneration benefits, such as a high base salary, bonuses and other employee benefits.

Out of the four digital banks that were awarded the digital banking licences by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in December 2020, two wholesale banks soft launched their services in June 2022, with the official launch expected to happen in 2023/24.

Veterans from various global and local banks, as well as leading IT companies, have moved over to the digital banks to form a diverse leadership team. In the coming months, we expect to see more job opportunities for middle-level professionals being offered by digital bank licensees as they build their capabilities in anticipation of their launches in Singapore.

Fintechs and digital banking licensees should continue to invest in building their employer brand and employee value proposition to further differentiate themselves from their competitors and improve their ability to attract new talent.

recognising that there are different talent expectations to meet after COVID

Already, many financial services institutions have adjusted the workforce’s salary ranges up by 5% to 10% to reflect post-COVID expectations. Companies have also improved their employee rewards and recognition programmes to better attract and retain talent in today’s talent shortage climate.

There have been a few instances where a certain role has a salary increase of more than 10%. This is largely due to the company’s attempts to retain these employees with niche and highly specialised skills within the organisation.

But are salary adjustments enough to attract and retain talent?

One common mistake many companies make is to assume that job applicants will accept their offer as long as it’s more than what their previous employer is paying them.

employer switch job seekers expectation
employer switch job seekers expectation

However, a salary increment of 15% to 20% is no longer considered competitive enough for job seekers, who are now expecting at least a 25% to 30% pay raise when changing employers.

hybrid and remote work - a gateway to a more independent workforce

As banks and financial services firms resume full business operations, banking professionals are returning to offices either fully on-site or on a hybrid basis. Business travels have also resumed and front office professionals can finally meet their clients and colleagues from other offices in person, with the exception of North Asian markets where covid restrictions and traveling bans are still in place.

In the same Randstad survey, 17% of finance respondents in Singapore said that they worked on-site full time in January 2022, a 6% increase from the year before. When asked about their expectations on future work arrangements, only 3% of all finance respondents in the study said that they don’t see themselves working remotely or from home.

employee's wants to work remotely or from home
employee's wants to work remotely or from home

It is very clear that flexible work benefits are very important to finance professionals. It helps them foster a better work-life balance and also cut down expenses of eating lunch outside and transportation fees.

For some employees, working from home helps them be more productive than being in the office, as they would face fewer distractions and are more able to focus on their work and meet deadlines.

learning and development can foster a highly-skilled and loyal workforce

Of all the financial services professionals who responded to Randstad Singapore’s 2022 Employer Brand Research, 73% of them said that their career progression is important to them. 62% said that they are more likely to continue working for an employer if they are offered opportunities to upskill or re-skill.

In order to retain talent, companies must continuously invest in their human capital and talent innovation to foster a more agile, skilled and loyal workforce capable of working remotely and making decisions independently.

partner with a recruitment agency that knows your talent well

With more than 25 years of experience in Singapore, Randstad prides itself on having the biggest and most specialised banking and financial services recruiters. Our focus in the banking and financial services industry allows us to provide our valued customers with market intelligence as well as human capital counsel and services to elevate their workforce capabilities and productivity.

Based in the region’s leading talent hub, we have a large network of highly-qualified banking professionals across all seniority levels to meet your human capital requirements in functionality, skills and experience. Our team of 20 specialised consultants provide a full suite of HR solutions to firms in retail and commercial banks, private banks, investments, funds and trust, securities and brokers, fintech, banking tech and payments.

Whether it is a team expansion, a replacement hire or talent mobility solutions, our specialist consultants are fully equipped to support your workforce needs to drive business efficiencies and growth. Amplify your talent strategy and build a workforce ready. Connect with us for the latest market intelligence or for your hiring needs. You can also take a look at our key areas of expertise in banking and financial recruitment.

download randstad singapore’s banking and financial services talent and salary outlook report

leadership industry insights
leadership industry insights
about the author
banking and financial services recruitment experts
banking and financial services recruitment experts

chai leng lim

general manager - banking and financial services, construction, property and engineering and life sciences

Chai Leng manages more than 30 specialised recruitment consultants, including front office, risk governance, operations, finance and reporting, commodities, insurance, private equity, hedge funds and asset management within banking and financial services.

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