Kerry Consulting is regularly featured in Singapore and international press publications and media broadcasts.
More photos can be viewed on our Facebook page.
The employment market for risk management jobs in Singapore and Hong Kong is buoyant and has been for the past five years. But for graduates, clinching a junior risk job is far from straight forward – here are some of the best ways to get your first break in Asian risk management.
Singapore-based OCBC offers a potential direct route into the function via its risk management internship, applications for which close on 13 December 2014.
By contrast, banks that aren't headquartered in Singapore are less dependent on hiring local graduates and rely more on their ability to attract experienced risk staff. Specialist full-time risk traineeships are rare in Asia – Bank of America Merrill Lynch's global risk programme is one of the few, but the application deadline has now past.
Risk internships are more common than traineeships, although not as numerous as the plethora of front-office summer roles available in Asia. BAML is among the firms taking on risk interns in both Singapore and Hong Kong (applications close 15 November 2014) – as are JPMorgan (9 November 2014) and UBS (14 November 2014) – while Morgan Stanley runs a Hong Kong-based programme (8 November 2014).
"Because demand for risk candidates – especially credit and operational risk – is growing in Asia, it will be no surprise if more banks soon start offering programmes to groom the young generation instead of scrambling for external talent years down the road," says Sherry Zerh, a senior consultant at search firm Kerry Consulting in Singapore.
Rotate into risk management
In the meantime, if you do a non-specialist traineeship, rotating around different departments, it's likely that a stint in risk will be included, so you will have a few weeks (or months) to prove your aptitude for the job. Graduates on the one-year financial markets programme at Standard Chartered in Singapore, for example, spend three months in risk before being let lose in the front office.
Rotational and specialist risk programmes alike will typically give you a taste of all three basic risk functions: credit, risk and operational (for a summary of what they involve, read this article). If you’re deciding between them and pondering your longer-term career and pay prospects, recruiters point to a growing talent shortage triggering high salary rises in operational risk in Asia, although credit risk makes up the bulk of banks' headcount numbers.
In credit risk, an alternative way into you first role at a bank is to work at the Big Four first. "Interestingly in Singapore, we have seen some banks hiring external auditors for junior credit-risk positions. Those with a strong grasp of the credit cycle are preferred," says Zerh.
As is the case in other regions, whatever methods banks in Asia use to recruit in risk, they all want one thing: strong academic results in highly numerate subjects, including banking, finance and accounting (obviously) as well as statistics, maths, physics and engineering. "Qualifications are very important for risk roles. Hiring managers usually look for more quantitative backgrounds and doing a Masters degree in a subject like financial engineering or applied finance can also help," says Zerh from Kerry.
Careers paths in Asian risk management
Although risk offers comparatively bountiful job opportunities in Singapore and Hong Kong, it's best to stick with the same bank for at least two years after the end of your graduate training (and to complete the FRM qualification). "Aside from training programmes, I seldom see junior risk management roles as candidates need to accumulate some years of experience – be it in a product, function, framework etc – to provide sound risk-management advice," says Zerh.
Risk may not be a front-line job, but neither is it suitable for sensitive souls. Risk employees need to communicate with multiple departments on a daily basis and be able to influence bossy colleagues in the front office.
If you eventually tire of the profession, your entry-level risk role will have at least set you up for other banking jobs. Operational risk staff can try to transfer to internal audit, internal control or corporate governance, while market and credit risk can offer a route into product control. Corporate banks in Asia have even be known to hire credit-risk people for relationship manager roles as understanding the credit-approval process is becoming an increasingly important part of RM jobs.
From next year, the Singapore Public Service - which employs almost 140,000 people - will offer all eligible staff re-employment beyond the age of 65.
Beginning Jan 1, 2015, it will formalise arrangements to offer re-employment to all eligible officers till the age of 67. This will immediately benefit some 800 public officers turning 65 next year.
Public officers are currently re-employed up to age 65 when they reach the statutory retirement age of 62. The public service guidelines on re-employment take reference from the Tripartite Advisory on re-employment.
The guidelines state that eligible officers who wish to continue working can do so on the same job with the same pay and benefits, provided the job is available. Otherwise, agencies will help the officers to find suitable jobs within or outside their agency. If no jobs are available, agencies will offer a payment to help them make the adjustment while they look for another job.
Before Thursday's announcement, public agencies are already voluntarily re-employing officers beyond the age of 65, if the officers wish to continue working and they can contribute to the work of the agencies. There are about 1,000 public officers re-employed beyond age 65 today.
"Re-employment allows the public service to continue tapping our seniors' wealth of knowledge and experience. It also allows our older colleagues to remain meaningfully engaged," James Wong, deputy secretary (policy) at the Public Service Division (PSD) in the Prime Minister's Office, said.
"In the Public Service Division, I am glad to work alongside several of our re-employed colleagues who, in addition to contributing to our work, also help to mentor and coach our younger officers."
The decision was taken by PSD after it studied the recommendations made by the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers on extending the re-employment age.
As one of the largest employers in Singapore, the Public Service decided to take the lead on this decision, which it took in consultation with the ministries, statutory boards and public sector unions.
Pan Zaixian, general manager of headhunting firm Kerry Consulting, said: "Many MNCs come from countries that have already increased their retirement age, and with possible financial incentives from the government, they will probably be the first to adopt this (in Singapore also)."
But observers say not every private sector employer may readily adopt the changes.
"In comparison, private sector Singaporean companies may take longer to assimilate this."
According to Mr Pan, the receptiveness of private sector employers to the re-employment age extension also varies across different industries.
"Different industries have their own age demographics. Banking, technology and consumer industries generally have younger working populations compared to those from the industrial and resources sectors. I do not expect this to change."
Mr Pan also noted that if the age extension to 67 is not implemented as part of the Retirement and ReEmployment Act, older employees could possibly gravitate to companies that voluntarily practises it.
Even members of the workforce may have difficulty in completely welcoming these changes. Mr Pan cited the example of companies with a seniority-based advancement culture. Younger staff would see the retirement extension as raising the glass ceiling for them. "Will an employee in his/her 50s feel that the glass ceiling for career progression (has been) extended?"
"Hong Kong's unique selling points are quite resilient," said Declan O'Sullivan, managing director of Singapore-based recruiter Kerry Consulting, citing its user-friendliness, commercial services and rule of law. "It's unlikely that China would want to see Hong Kong seriously damaged, so I would expect Beijing to tread somewhat carefully."
Industry watchers say that there now appears to be a concerted effort by financial sector employers to seek out local talent. "While previously these same institutions may have paid lip service to this and did not really execute it through at the hiring level, recently became much more of a focus," says Pan Zaixian, the general manager of Kerry Consulting.
Yet, institutions are also careful not to appear too insular by only hiring locals, he adds. And in cases where a niche or specialised skill cannot be found from the local pool, employers would still consider overseas talent.Click here to view full story
"HR should see older workers as a source of quality manpower contributing to the organisation and recognise the value of making workplaces age-friendly by sharing the benefits of hiring mature workers with existing younger workers," says Priscilla Chen, Senior Consultant at Kerry Consulting. "With the right training and technology in place, mature workers will find themselves being able to perform effectively, giving them a sense of fulfillment in contributing at their age."
Economic restructuring and slower growth has taken a heavier toll on Singapore workers, especially those in the services sector, and professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who made up more than half of all layoffs last year.
More workers were made redundant - either retrenched or released early from contracts - last year as layoffs also grew a little more widespread. For every 1,000 employees, 5.8 were laid off, up from 5.5 in 1,000 in 2011.
Business groups are concerned that the government's intention to raise the salary requirements for hiring foreigners on employment passes will add to business costs, or make it harder to hire people with specialised skills lacking in the local talent pool.
They are asking for employers' views to be heard before policy changes are made, and urge a gradual roll-out to avoid labour- market shocks that could drive even competitive firms here out of business.
Tan Su Shan felt her first pangs of labor while trading yen for a wealth-management client.
What to do? She took her laptop and mobile phone to a Singapore delivery room and set up a foreign-exchange operation lying flat on her back as doctors administered nitrous oxide to ease the pain of giving birth.
"I was taking gas, calling the client and trying to go, 'Haaaaah,'" recalled Tan, 45, who was working for Morgan Stanley at the time and now heads private and consumer banking at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. "I don’t know whether it was the baby or the exchange rate" causing the heavy breathing.
Women like Tan are one reason why female private bankers outnumber men in Asia 3-to-2 when it comes to managing the money of the wealthy, according to executive-recruiting firm Korn Ferry International. By contrast, the female-to-male manager ratio in the U.S. is 1-to-4. In Switzerland, the world’s largest wealth-management center, it’s 1-to-9.
Bank staffers here should be happy if their 2012 bonus turns out similar to last year's, while salary adjustments, if any, are unlikely to outpace this year's 4 per cent-plus inflation, say consultants.
This could mean zero bonuses - which was the case for some last year - to one month-plus bonuses for general, non-revenue-generating employees. For sales or frontline staff, those who have met targets could get as much as six months. Of course, there are always the outliers, but consultants say the overall mood is pretty conservative.
"We're in an environment where people are very conservative about pay rises," said Pan Zaixian, general manager at Kerry Consulting.
Singapore's low 1.9 per cent unemployment rate may be the envy of many but the banks here are not immune to the global cost-cutting trend in the industry. Citigroup last week said it would axe 11,000 jobs worldwide and Bloomberg data showed that financial services firms have announced more than 300,000 job cuts globally since the start of 2011.
Senior managers are unlikely to get any pay rise while for more junior staff, banks use local inflation as a guide to salary adjustment, said Mr Zaixian.
"Now, with that in mind and from what we know about the market at ground level, it is likely that adjustment can be below local inflation," said Mr Zaixian. Inflation this year is tipped to be slightly above 4.5 per cent.
"Bonuses are going to be meagre in general," said Mr Zaixian. But he noted that this is a distraction from the fact that the base pay at investment banks has been raised significantly since 2010. "For non-front-office roles at the general level, bonus is expected to be closer to one-plus month instead of four months during the better years," he said. "For senior management and for general front- office roles, where in good years they can expect 10- plus months bonus, this will no longer be commonplace," he said.
Another consultant said he had seen a lot of firings earlier this year as projects got shelved and banks reined in costs further. Bonuses would be flat or down and a lot of staff would not get any - but "secretly they would be pleased", as they would still have jobs, he said.
Local banks - which are expected to be more generous given their strong earnings - will be prudent rather than lavish in rewarding staff.
For the first nine months of 2012, the three domestic banks - DBS Group Holdings, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank - posted much higher profits, up at least 13 per cent from a year ago. Regarding hiring, while the local banks are more active, it has not completely stopped at US and European units. Many banks are beefing up their compliance and corporate governance and risk management, as regulators get tough with more new rules.
Generally, the hiring mood in local banks is more optimistic even as growth is sluggish. The Singapore economy is expected to grow 1.5 per cent in 2012.
One trend which consultants notice is that increasingly banks are moving jobs out of Singapore to countries like the Philippines and India because costs here are too high. "A lot of banks are not coming to Singapore," said Mr Zaixian.
"A European bank looking to send jobs from London to Singapore is at the same time also sending jobs from Singapore to India. Banks are finding that for some of the back-office positions which cost $100,000 a year for a Singapore employee, they can hire two for $50,000 in the Philippines,’’ said another consultant.
Standard Chartered, for which Singapore is the second-largest contributor to group income and profits after Hong Kong, says it has not found the number of UK-based staff opting to move to Singapore any higher than usual.
Not only has the Singapore dollar strengthened against the British currency in the last two years – making it more expensive for London-based institutions to pay for staff – but also deal flow is down everywhere.
Hong Kong is in any case the preferred base for M&A bankers in Asia, even though some activity has picked up in Singapore with a S$5.4bn battle that has set Dutch brewer Heineken against Thailand’s ThaiBev for control of Asia Pacific Breweries, the maker of Tiger beer.
Where Singapore is seeing hiring growth is in transaction banking, the unglamorous trade finance and cash management services crucial to oiling the wheels of commerce.
In south-east Asia, where corporate balance sheets are relatively strong, that business is providing fat profits as companies hire banks to support their working capital needs.
Banks pushing into this area include ANZ of Australia, France’s BNP Paribas and Royal Bank of Scotland, whose global head of trade services, Anand Pande, moved to Singapore from London six months ago.
At DBS, Singapore’s largest bank by assets, transaction banking accounted for 9.6 per cent of group net profit in 2010 but had jumped to 21.6 per cent by the first half of this year, while headcount has grown 52 per cent in the same period.
United Overseas Bank, a rival, says the value of trade loans extended to customers in the first half was 18 per cent higher than the same period last year.
Tony Singleton, Asia-Pacific managing director for Reval, a treasury and risk management software group, says companies in south-east Asia are trying to maximise their return on excess cash and manage their counterparty exposures “more intelligently”.
“For their part the banks are trying to grow or protect ‘share of wallet’ and they are replacing volatile trading room income with more reliable annuity fee-based streams,” he says.
Recruiters say it is at Asian operators that most of the hiring is taking place.
Declan O’Sullivan, managing director at Kerry Consulting, says: “Working in Asian financial institutions is more attractive as they have the balance sheet and can engage in . . . activities where US and European banks have dominated.”
Elsewhere the hiring picture is mixed. While commodity trading has become a big part of Singapore’s financial sector, banks are struggling to hire as the most talented staff are poached by trading houses such as Trafigura, Glencore and Mercuria.
That has prompted banks to shift people from Europe and the US, mostly in top management positions. But these are not new jobs, recruiters say.
Managing Director, Kerry Consulting
My own guess is that this would not have a huge impact on the birthrate. Of course it would be bound to increase it somewhat. However one might consider that such a policy is not cost free. One is really asking the (often private sector) employer to shoulder a cost relating to state policy. In a sense it would amount to a form of potential indirect tax, on the employer, when employing females. This might well generate unforeseen, possibly negative, outcomes.
It might be more useful to address the perception that child rearing is an expensive activity, for the typical dual income Singaporean couple. Major components of this expense include all the obvious direct costs, together with possible loss in salary if a parent decides to stay at home in order to raise the child(ren) and / or, third party childcare.
Has the possibility of some form of state subsidy, possibly means tested, for childcare, been examined?
Ultimately all policy decisions are trade offs. Just how badly does Singapore want to increase its birthrate? The whole matter would need quite a bit of thought…”
More corporate high flyers are seeing the wisdom of a sabbatical or "transitioning" - taking time off to take stock at the halfway point of their career lives - to backpack, grow grapes or even opt for a monastic sojourn.
Panel discussion on the political pay debate in Singapore. Panel consisted of:
Political Commentator - Eugene Tan
Member of Parliment- Inderjit Singh
Non-Constituency Member of Parliment -
Kerry Consulting Managing Director -
Retain policy but cut length to one term in office, panel suggests.
The prime minister should have the leeway to offer higher pay to top ministerial candidates from the private sector, the committee in charge of reviewing ministers' pay said last week.
Its recommendations included one to retain a little-known policy called "make-up pay". It lets the prime minister pay a potential up to 90 per cent of the difference between his new pay as a political appointment holder and his pay in the private sector – set at the average of his annual pay packet in the last three years.
The committee recommended one change. It called for the length of make-up pay to be cut from two terms in office to one term – around five years. After that, it said, the minister should be paid according to his pay grade.
The policy was introduced in 1989 but has never been used, according to the committee’s report.
Human resource experts and analysts were divided on whether make-up pay should be retained in its current form. Some told The Straits Times that make-up pay is a practical way of easing top earners' transition into politics, especially if they have existing financial commitments and must take a large pay cut.
"Ministerial candidates are human too," said Mr. Declan O'Sullivan, managing director of executive recruitment firm Kerry Consulting.
Provisions such as make-up pay help ensure that Singapore attracts the best to run the country, he said.
"It would be a lot easier and more politically expedient to abandon these provisions, but at what cost to the nation's development?" he added.
He is in favour of the committee's proposal to limit make-up pay to about five years, which is a "fair period" for the new minister to adjust his commitments.
Other experts said having a flexible wage system for top executives is also in line with private sector practice.
In the Irish Chamber’s latest "Case Study for Success", Declan O’Sullivan, founder of Kerry Consulting, attributes Kerry’s consistent award-winning performance to one key element – its people.
A reason for more employers opting for local or Asian talent – who possess the expertise and connections needed to tap the growing markets of Asia. Declan O'Sullivan, managing director of Kerry Consulting said in particular, the West-to-East movement of talent is increasingly transforming into a "Singapore-returnee" trend.
Mr. O'Sullivan also told BT that foreign professionals are much more frequently coming to Singapore to strike out on their own.
BACK in the days when cushy jobs for foreigners were plentiful in Asia, Western expats used to get called FILTH—"failed in London, trying Hong Kong". Now, though, they may end up as FISHTAILS—"failed in Shanghai, trying again in London". This is because employers in Asia, despite strong demand for managers and professionals, increasingly choose to hire locals, not outsiders.
Overall, the jobs outlook is brighter the farther east you go: a recent survey by an employment consultancy found that companies in India, China and Taiwan expect to hire more than firms in other countries during the first half of 2011. Western companies in all sorts of industries are continuing to push into Asia’s high-growth economies. This week, for example, Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, announced a big expansion in China.
However, Joe Expat may not get much of a look-in. Graduates are flooding on to Asia’s job market from local universities, and Asians with degrees from Western ones are returning home. Since 2003 roughly 325,000 Chinese have returned after studying overseas—more than three times as many as in the entire two decades before—according to David Zweig of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who is writing a book on the subject. The number of Chinese studying abroad and expected to return home afterwards continues to rise. Even Westerners with top-class MBAs are finding it tough. Andrew Stephen of the Singapore campus of INSEAD, a prestigious French business school, says he has seen good candidates being passed over by multinationals because they were not Asian.
Since there is no longer so much need for foreign workers, Asian governments are tightening their visa rules. In 2008 Singapore granted 156,900 work visas to foreigners and less than half that number of jobs went to residents. Now the numbers are roughly equal. "There isn’t an overwhelming need to import young and enthusiastic people any more," says Declan O'Sullivan, a director of Singapore-based Kerry Consulting.
It is not just a question of supply and demand, though. Big employers in Asia, especially those that have got burned in their past dealings with local governments, are putting a premium on local knowledge, language and connections. Recruiters say candidates with a demonstrable long-term commitment to a country, and ready-made guanxi (business and political relationships), get preference. The locals-first attitude to hiring extends up all the way to the most senior executive levels. Just as experience in Asia is coming to be seen as an essential career step in Western multinationals, the opportunities for recent graduates to gain such experience seem to be shrinking.
Asia's strong economic recovery and better-than-expected euro zone growth should help the world dodge a double-dip recession, according to Irish central bank governor Patrick Honohan.
But governments will also need to focus on consolidating reserves after extensive spending on stimulus measures taken to tackle the financial crisis, he said.
Professor Honahan, who is also a member of the European Central Bank governing council, was speaking yesterday at an event jointly hosted by the Irish Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Banks in Singapore at Marina Mandarin hotel.
Looking back at the crisis, he said while there was a sharp downturn, the recovery was "surprisingly faster" in many parts of the world, especially in Asia.
"So to some extent we may not have learnt enough to avoid a downturn, but we definitely have learnt enough in terms of monetary and economic policy response to make sure the downturn was as short-lived as possible."
Barclays Plc was sued in Singapore for failing to pay Pagoda Partners Pte Ltd S$365,000 (US$266,000) after Britain’s second-largest bank hired Timothy Last from Merrill Lynch & Co. on the recruitment firm's recommendation.
Barclays was "unjustly enriched" by Pagoda after the headhunter sent the bank Last's resume in January 2009 and wasn't paid, according to documents filed with the Singapore High Court. A pre-trial hearing was held on April 19.
Last, Barclays Capital's head of equity derivatives flow sales for Asia, excluding Japan, was hired as a direct referral after Pagoda failed to set up a meeting, Barclays’s lawyers from Straits Law LLC said in the court filing. "There was never any agreement for the engagement of" Pagoda, Barclays said.
"It would be very rare for a search firm to sue such a large bank as it would sour the relationship," said Declan O’Sullivan, director at Kerry Consulting in Singapore, a finance industry recruitment firm.
"Big banking clients typically don't skimp on the fees unless there was a misunderstanding and such matters are usually settled out of court." Banks are hiring again as the specter of the financial collapse dissipates, he said.
Declan O’Sullivan of Kerry Consulting welcomed the crew of "Cork", the Irish entry in the 2009/2010 Clipper Race, on behalf of the Irish Chamber of Commerce, to Singapore on the 23rd of January.
Are employers and employees going to end up on different wavelengths at the end of the year when it comes to bonus and salary expectations?
Employees will be noting the rosier hiring outlook now and a better-than-expected performance by some companies this year. But with employers keeping an eye on the bottom line, increments and bonuses are not likely to match that optimism, say human resources consultants and recruiters.
High unemployment in the US and Europe are "real brakes on growth" in a bumpy 2010, as most expect, pointed out Kerry Consulting director Declan O'Sullivan.
"We're not going to see massive bonuses or increments, except only where there are highly localised and specialised needs," he said.
Conducting successful negotiations even in one's home country is a challenging task. Bearing in mind the cultural diversity within Asia Pacific, it is extraordinarily difficult for a regional business executive (irrespective of country of origin) to be effective across an area stretching from Japan to Singapore and encompassing Australia, China, India and a host of other culturally diverse nations.
The June 4th CPA Singapore Powwow - organised by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) - saw a strong turnout from women executives working in the financial sector, though the men didn't shy away either.
In all, 150 participants gathered to hear the panel of two men (including Declan O'Sullivan of Kerry Consulting) and two women, appropriately gender balanced, discuss the forum's topic: "The Shifting Power Balance - Is Gender the Issue?".
Other panel members included Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Singapore's first female Cabinet minister, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO of SMRT and Mr Gerald Ee, ICPAS vice-president.
Declan O'Sullivan, founder and director of Kerry Consulting, appeared on Channel News Asia's 'Singapore Business Tonight' programme - commenting on the state of the financial recruitment market in Singapore.
Ms Audrey Chan, associate director at finance recruitment firm Kerry Consulting, said hiring of fresh graduates on campus among accounting firms this year has not been cut back noticeably. Instead, the cost-saving measures tend to be taken at the level of more exprienced staff, she said.
"There is a general drive to contain costs wherever possible. Some firms are considering taking measures to manage their cost in the form of delay of promotions and salary increments," said Ms Chan.
Declan O'Sullivan, founder and director of Kerry Consulting, was recently a panel member at a forum conducted by the Insitute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS). The topic was women in leadership positions, and was attended by more than 150 professionals in the finance industry. Other panel members included Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Singapore's first female Cabinet minister, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO of SMRT and Mr Gerald Ee, ICPAS vice-president.
Discussion points included representation (64 per cent of ICPAS members are women, but women hold only about 27 per cent of leadership positions), the factors that cause low representation, and quotas.
Cultural, educational and business ties between Singapore and Ireland will get an unconventional boost from a new initiative, 'Crossing waters, crossing cultures', which will send four Temasek Polytechnic students to Ireland to participate in activities leading up to the departure of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) from Galway, Ireland, on Saturday.
The initiative, launched by Singapore's Irish Business Association (IBA), together with Irish/Chinese Volvo Ocean Race team Green Dragon, and supported by the Embassy of Ireland in Singapore, will also see the students joining a one-week sail training voyage along the south-west Irish coast on a vessel operated by educational charity Ocean Youth Trust Ireland - with support from the embassy and Kerry Consulting.
Kerry Consulting provides active support to the 'Let’s Do It Global' initiative to have 4 young Singaporeans travel to Ireland to participate in sailing activities surrounding the Volvo Ocean Race Galway stopover in June, 2009.
They then join a 1 week sail training experience on board a vessel operated by the Ocean Youth Trust Ireland, a charity dedicated to providing young people with the opportunity to experience Sail Training.
Throughout their journey the students will capture their experiences and impressions of Ireland through the media of photography and video which they will present to their school and to the extended Singapore-Irish business community on their return.
Declan O'Sullivan of Kerry Consulting was a guest on 'The Business', on Ireland's leading radio station, RTE1, contrasting Singapore’s labour and unemployment policies with those of Ireland.
Declan O'Sullivan, founder of Kerry Consulting, will be speaking at this CPA-organised forum on 4 June 2009.
If you want to make the most of a search firm when in need, get to know your recruitment consultant better - even before you have lost your current job.
"It is much like going to a family doctor. Someone who knows you and who you have been regularly seeing is in a better position to provide remedy when you're sick," said Mr Declan O'Sullivan, founder of Singapore-based executive recruitment firm Kerry Consulting.
Mr Declan O'Sullivan, founder and director of recruitment firm Kerry Consulting, suggests reaching out more to the people around you at work.
"Quite often, when people get stressed, they tend to curl up into a ball and hope the problem will go away, which is not useful," he says.
"A far better survival strategy would be to go out of your way and talk to people, be more outgoing, and engage your colleagues and business partners."
Kerry Consulting sponsors "Best HR Manager" award, which was won by Ng Lee Keng, Manager of Talent Management, SMRT Corporation.
The key to better pay seems to be the right set of skills and experience relevant to what may be very specific client requirements like structured products or derivatives, for example.
"In general, I have seen pay coming in more on the high side in 2006-2007," said Emily Tan, a consultant at Kerry Consulting.
Kerry Consulting's director Declan O'Sullivan said his headhunting firm now needs to shortlist more candidates for each job, because it is common for those shortlisted to receive other offers while the recruitment is in progress.
"Our workload per recruitment exercise has probably gone up 50 per cent - as compared to two years ago - simply to maintain our previous response standards," he said.
Treating individuals as energy sources is the key to success, observes Declan O'Sullivan, director, Kerry Consulting.
Recruitment, training and development, compensation and benefits... Virtually all HR efforts are aimed at increasing the energy output of the people in the organisation and hence the organisation itself.
In summary, every organisation's success or failure is influenced by its aggregate energy output. HR is the function which most directly influences the organisation's potential energy and actual energy. Put another way, HR, perhaps more than any other function, is the key to an organisation's success or failure.
For financial and human resources recruitment firm Kerry Consulting, the majority of its clients are global multinationals requiring key professional personnel to be based in Singapore, South-East Asia, China or on occasion, as far afield as Iran.
Founded by director Declan O'Sullivan in January 2004, it provides recruitment services to banks and multinational corporations from its Suntec City headquarters. This sometimes involves "exporting" Singaporeans into overseas positions or "importing" non-residents into Singapore based roles.
About 30 per cent of Kerry Consulting's business falls into this "import/export" category. To date, it has maintained a 100-per-cent annual growth rate, sees a bright future for its services and is looking to add on to its existing headcount of 14 people this year.
Headhunter Declan O'Sullivan, from Kerry Consulting, explained that some bankers are highly paid because there are only a handful who can do the job well.
"Each of them is like a fighter pilot, you only need one really good guy flying the plane," he said, adding that each of them is often responsible for millions of dollars.
Declan O'Sullivan is the director of financial headhunting firm Kerry Consulting by day and a self-proclaimed orang utan conservationist by night. His desire is to see more Singapore companies help save the 5,000 Sumatran orang utans that are estimated to be left in the Sumatran jungles.
What are you doing actively for this cause?
Raising awareness and encouraging others to sponsor orang utans. As a headhunter, I meet lots of multinational corporations that I harass for cash, but with limited results.
From a one-man outfit operating out of a serviced office in Centennial Towers, Kerry Consulting has become one of the bigger financial recruitment firms in Singapore.
Outside the corporate setting, Kerry Consulting has - thanks to its founder's interests - emerged in what would seem a rather unlikely place: on the list of sponsors of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, run by the Swiss-based PanEco Foundation, Frankfurt Zoological Society and Indonesian agencies.
"Basically, my view is that if we can't save this extremely high profile and generally 'lovable' species from extinction, then really there is little hope for all the other thousands of species, many of which have yet to be categorised but upon which our ecosystem nonetheless does depend. It's a local headline case, or at least it should be."