Market Update

Q4 2011

Pretty obviously the global economic and business environment remains unsettled. Thinkā€¦

  • Euro

  • Sovereign Debt

  • China

  • Financial Services Regulations

Business hates uncertainty and notwithstanding that Asia by global standards, is in relatively good shape, headwinds have emerged in the recruitment market since Q3 2011. The good news is that confidence seems to be (very tentatively) returning. Whether or not this will be sustained depends largely on the actions of the political classes in North America and Europe.

Let's look in some detail at what's happening in the Singapore recruitment market in the three main areas which we service.

1 Banking - Front, Middle and Back Office

2 Commerce - Finance (All Industries)

3 Human Resources (All Industries)

Banking

  • The general banking climate remains challenging.

  • Reasonable growth in areas such as private banking, securities services, fund management, commercial banking and custody services.

  • Due to cost constraints, we are also observing a trend of middle and back office functions migrating to lower cost locations notably Malaysia, Philippines and India.

  • The days of big salary jumps are over, at least for now. Market increments for individuals moving between banks is now ranging from 5% - 20%.

  • For senior hires, some banks are willing to pay sign-on bonuses or compensation in-lieu (e.g. for shares, stock options). However, this is now on more of a case by case basis.

  • There is a continuing supply of talent from Europe and US. Singapore has become relatively more attractive since the onset of the financial crisis. This represents an opportunity, which is being capitalized upon, for banks in Singapore to reinforce their bench strength.

  • Lots of activity in employee communications and engagement, in an attempt to maintain internal confidence and morale.

  • The need to look at risk holistically thus driving the need to strengthen the business risk function (previously more segmented ie ORM, credit, market risk).

  • Audit, compliance and risk management functions generally, continue to be beefed up.

  • Banks continue to explore ways to cut costs and streamline processes. As a result, there is solid demand for candidates with business transformation, integration, migration, six sigma, lean and project management skills.

Overall the banking recruitment market remains reasonably solid though it is considerably softer than in Q1 and Q2 2011.

Commerce - Finance

  • Mid and senior level finance hiring activities continue at a reasonable volume though economic uncertainties are creating something of a headwind.

  • There is a solid volume of activity for more junior positions.

  • Headcount has emerged as an issue. As a consequence, contract recruitment is becoming more common.

  • Rather unusual Q4, as hiring activity which is normally quiet due to year end has actually increased.

  • Expectations are cautiously positive about 2012.

  • On the candidate supply side, challenges remain. Concern regarding economic uncertainties has caused some candidates to put their job search on hold.

  • Singapore has become an increasingly easy "sell" to candidates from Europe and the US.

Human Resources

  • Senior level HR recruitment volumes are fairly stable.

  • The emphasis is now on generalist roles. Specialist roles in OD/C&B and Talent Management were at a peak in second half of 2010 / first half of 2011.

  • We are seeing continuing offshoring activities of operational HR functions to lower cost locations such as Malaysia and Philippines.

  • There is a lot of activity in employee communication and engagement due to economic uncertainty.

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