Go direct:BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES
Q1 2019 sees the financial services industry continuing its scramble to cope with a rapidly changing environment. Amid a slowing world economy (or not!), continued market volatility and possible trade wars, banks and financial institutions remain focused on innovation and transformation to navigate the “new normal”. Leaders continue to focus on combating shrinking margins, balancing digital threats and opportunities, as well as managing the push and pull between customer empowerment and risk management.
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies continue to invest in product innovation for diverse markets to broaden their product mix. With Digital being a key and necessary growth pillar to remain competitive, Companies are also leveraging on digital data across new channels like mobile, to gain insights into consumer behavior.
Global Firms are also shifting decision-making to local markets to compete with entrepreneurial local brands for market share. As a result, Companies are de-layering their organization structures to redistribute resources and to increase efficiency, to achieve speed to market. As profit margin pressure persists in the Consumer Sector, particularly in Personal Care and Consumer Healthcare, companies are drastically restructuring their business models to achieve greater focus on product offerings and reduce operating expenses.
Concurrently, Companies are channelling more investment into technology advancement across the value chain. Beyond increasing spend focusing on selling and engaging with consumers in an Omni-channel platform, leveraging on data analytics has started to be of interest to Companies. Key account management experience with eRetailers and Digital marketing across Growth Marketing and Content continue to be a huge focus of hire as Companies accelerate in their endeavors to build digital capabilities. We also see Consumer companies growing in appetite to hire business intelligence candidates with deep expertise in digital data.
In this era of constant change and disruption, candidates who are able to demonstrate positive mindsets, learning agility and resilience are in high demand. At senior levels, companies are increasingly looking for professionals with international portfolios, who are geographically mobile, especially in emerging markets.Retail
It’s an exciting time in the retail sector across Asia as the landscape continues to transform. Omni Channel experience is a big must to win in the market, to ensure that they are optimising the product mix offering online and offline, providing seamless customer service and ensuring that they are providing convenient shopping solutions to the consumers. Interestingly, a lot of brands are still trying to find their way on this journey.
Digital, AI, analytics usage of big data, is here to stay. Brands with the help of technology know their customers better, improve their customer’s journey as they shop (both online and offline) with them and also improve their future engagement with current customers. We also look to China for the new retail trends, ranging from payment services to ecommerce.
Talent in ecommerce, analytics, and digital continues to be highly sought after. At the same time, there remains lots of interest in hiring for Store Design, Visual Merchandising, Retail Operations and also niche Marketing roles such as Insights and CRM.
Integrated technology solutions will continue to be the game changer in the hospitality sector. From Artificial Intelligence to Mobile Integration to Virtual and Augmented Reality, hoteliers are striving to provide guests with a seamless, digitalised experience. Hoteliers are integrating their revenue management, sales and marketing functions into one revenue generating umbrella with the ultimate objective being to acquire, engage and retain guests. Here, we observed a demand for transformational, collaborative leaders who can integrate digital capabilities and transform traditional business models, revenue and data specialists who can leverage predictive analytics to maximise business decisions, and digital marketers who can understand and manage the influence of social media.
With hospitality companies increasingly moving towards an asset-light approach to focus on their core strengths and maximise efficiencies, this has led to a demand for asset managers who can represent the interests of hotel owners and help them maximise value. Whilst technical competence remains essential for selection, soft skills such as the ability to adopt a leadership mentality, provide creative solutions and make real-time operational decisions are differentiators in the hiring process.Real Estate
According to the 2019 Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific report, published jointly by Urban Land Institute and PwC, Singapore is the No. 2 real estate investment market in the Asia-Pacific. Commercial real estate remains the top asset class for investors and there has been an increased interest in hotel development and investment sales, driven by optimism in the hospitality sector and cautious outlook for residential development.
New business models, enhanced use of technology and evolving tenant and investor expectations will continue to redefine the commercial real estate industry. New co-working companies have reimagined the physical workspace and strive to position themselves as a service hub with a nimble business model. Commercial real estate companies have to adapt to the changing usage pattern of built space in order to attract customers, talent and investment. Investment managers who are able to operationalise capital investment strategies and technology specialists who are able to weave advanced technologies into the tenant life cycle, are in high demand.
The life sciences sector will continue to see a strategic rise of the digital mindset and further adoption of transformative technologies.
Within Pharma specifically, M&A will lead to strategic transactions that enhance a company’s core. External innovation will impose upon existing cultures and propel a change towards inking creative partnerships with a new generation of startups and tech giants, thus disrupting the status quo and challenging pharma’s legacy culture.
The medtech industry’s speed of evolution is unsurpassed in the history of life sciences. Medical device manufacturers are experiencing disruption from small companies and startups entering the market. Despite uncertainty and challenges, the industry continues to experience tremendous growth and an abundance of opportunities for further technological innovation.
Tech giants like Amazon and Google, continue to encroach upon both the pharma and medtech worlds. Their diversification into health care and investment in startups, will make them eventual Masters of Data. Data and digitisation will be the force behind new revenue models and crucial to delivering exceptional patient experience, including the design of informational and product value chains. While digitization brings in ample opportunities, it also brings forth vulnerabilities in cybersecurity risks, especially where interdependency and collaboration are scaling.
Stakeholders should create coherent and meaningful experiences through the entire chain of patient interactions across all phases – from R&D and product launch to commercialization. The world of tech, pharma and medtech will continue to merge.
Asia-Pacific, is experiencing rapid growth in the Medical Technology and Pharmaceutical sectors, due to an aging population, rising affluence and greater access to healthcare. Singapore, in particular, continues to be at the forefront of medical technology and pharmaceutical manufacturing, thanks to the availability of a skilled work force, an innovative ecosystem that promotes development of new technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, industrial Internet-of-Things (IoT), Internet-of-Medical-Things (IoMT) and strong Intellectual Property protection in a business-friendly environment.
Many organizations are establishing regional footprints in APAC, especially in Singapore, by setting up regional distribution centers to be closer to customers and importantly reduce lead times. Supply chain transformation will create a more robust supply chain and value added service for end customers. Increasingly, organizations are leveraging on blockchain technology to enhance their procurement and supply chain management activities for the region.
Whilst the industry’s commitment to digital transformation is increasing, few organizations are digitally mature. We can expect to see more of transformative technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Medical-Things (IoMT), Software-as-a-Medical-Device (SaMD), Blockchain, DIY diagnostics etc. More than three-quarters of companies agree that their organizations need new leaders to succeed in the digital age. Currently, only 20 percent of companies feel they have matured in their journey to becoming a digital enterprise.
This year, biopharma companies are likely to accelerate recruitment of talent from outside of the life sciences sector, for their digital expertise. The sector is accelerating its investment in digital-related roles, life science-specific technology and specialized engineering areas. Skilled professionals particularly in areas of research and development, continue to be in high demand and the industry is future proofing itself through its emphasis on talent pipelining through education and training initiatives, as well as strategic collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Oil’s outlook in 2019 is unclear, as ever. While OPEC, along with allied producers including Russia, made an effort to cut production in January 2019, the slower growth expected around the world, and the increase in supply of US shale oil, is expected to suppress prices and Brent is forecast to average around $60-$65/barrel for the next 2 years. US shale oil production has continued to rise and for the first time since the Suez crisis, the US has become the biggest exporter of oil to the UK.
This volatility is further heightened by the continued trade tension between the US and China and economic challenges in Europe. As IMO 2020 continued to be the focus, many traditional oil companies are turning to sustainable and renewable energy including LNG. Companies remain cost conscious and automation may help to reduce costs.
Within the region, hiring for oil professionals is mainly due to natural attrition rather than actual expansion plans. Functions that remain in demand include short term trading analytics, trade and structured finance, risk and trade support.Coal, Gas and Power
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) - While LNG volumes delivered in Dec 2018 topped 20.25 million tonnes to the top 3 consumers of Japan, China and South Korea, the spot price of LNG in Asia has completely missed its usual winter peak, with much of the blame being laid at the door of milder-than-usual temperatures trimming demand. It is also more likely that excess supply is playing a greater role than demand, as there is expected oversupply on the back of a raft of new projects, mainly in Australia and the United States.
The spot price for cargoes delivered to Asia LNG-AS was US$8.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in the week ended Jan 11. It has been trending down since a minor early winter peak of US$10.90 per mmBtu in the week to Nov 2018, and is well below the summer-high of US$11.60, reached in the week to June 2018. The spot price is usually for deliveries of around four to eight weeks in advance, so the current price reflects cargoes that will arrive in February 2019.
While the longer-term outlook for LNG demand growth appears to be optimistic, the shorter term spot market will struggle to absorb the excess supply coming on from projects in 2018. Singapore continues to be the LNG trading location of choice in Asia.
Coal dominates power generation in the region. A 2018 report by CoalSwarm shows that five of ASEAN’s 10 member states – Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia – are among the world’s top 20 investors in new coal capacity. The investment environment for renewables is unnecessarily high-risk because ASEAN governments’ work on supporting renewables and integrating them into the grid, is insufficient. As a result, record low prices seen elsewhere around the world have yet to reach Southeast Asian markets.
Since 2009, commercial-scale solar power has dropped approximately 86 per cent in price and wind has dropped 65 per cent, making both competitive with traditional generation sources in many places. The biggest price falls have happened since 2016 – driven downward by China’s overcapacity in solar production, competitive auctions for new projects, and a shift in financing and regulatory models. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts additional price cuts of 34 per cent in 2018 and more in 2019, as China’s domestic demand slows and oversupply floods the global market.
We expect the demand for talent in business development, origination, corporate finance and shipping operations to continue to hold steady.Metals and Mining
An economic slowdown in China, which consumes half of the world's commodities, is the single biggest fear for the mining & metals sector this year, with many highlighting that as the key headwind. It is closely followed by trade tensions, which have ramped up in recent months.
The biggest impact of trade tensions this year will be on speculative pressure on commodity prices, rather than any erosion of underlying demand for the hard commodities. The current cycle should continue to be demand-driven, with miners likely to continue to focus on productivity gains to deliver a measured supply-side response to demand.
2018 was a year of getting leaner. Rio Tinto offloaded business, including Europe's biggest aluminium smelter and the giant Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia, while BHP Group sold its US shale business for US$10.5 billion, recouping some of the tens of billions it spent on the assets. The two biggest miners are returning the proceeds of these sales to shareholders, along with dividends from their continuing operations. Glencore, the most acquisitive of the major miners, has been relatively quiet on the deal front, with its CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, seeing little to buy, while it is also subject to a US Department of Justice probe.
Anglo American is the only big mining company to have green-lighted a major new copper mine in 2018, having given the go-ahead for the US$5 billion Quellaveco copper project in Peru, together with an upsizing of Mitsubishi's equity stake in the project to further share development and construction risk. We expect hiring to continue across most functions of metals and mining across Asia.Agriculture and Food Production
Soybeans received a boost from signs of improving trade relations between the US and China, and that theme should continue to dominate trading this year. The oilseed price rallied late last year after a meeting between US and Chinese leaders resulted in China resuming some imports of American beans.
US farmers are hopeful the two nations will reach an accord before the end of a 90-day truce. The key question for trading desks remains whether China, the top US soybean buyer, will agree to reduce tariffs on US agricultural products. Brazil's coming harvest is also a major factor: farmers there are looking at yet another bumper year and that rush of supply would further suppress US prices, especially if China stays closed.
Integrated food producers with significant downstream and manufacturing capabilities beyond trading continue to battle increased competition to defend market share. Those who have demonstrated efficiencies in supply chain and production through rationalisation efforts have seen those efforts pay off. Demand for finance talent with corporate development and working capital management capabilities, will continue, as players seek to maximise their return on investments and increase productivity.Speciality Chemicals
The chemical industry had been experiencing consolidation, decreasing margins due to product commoditization, as well as increased competition in developing countries. At the same time, population and income growth and urbanisation, is resulting in greater demand for food as well as various chemical products.
The Chemical sector has been slower in digitalizing but is now beginning to build momentum. Technology is helping chemical companies in a range of areas such as capturing critical data to lower costs, scheduling preventative maintenance to minimize downtime, and facilitating accurate inventory planning to prevent stock outs. It is also helping companies to better predict customer needs and respond more quickly to customer requests, while improving customer experience. Companies are also exploring the provision of digital analytics services.
2019 will likely see market growth in the Chemicals industry after years of stagnation. Candidates with the flexibility and skills to contribute in this ever changing landscape, will be in high demand, as companies look to gain market share in an open and innovative market place.
The global semiconductor industry grew rapidly in 2018, however, the outlook for 2019 is less encouraging.
Chipmakers’ overall sales will continue to grow, driven by sensors / MEMS, microprocessors and optoelectronics.
With the introduction of EUV lithography and some advanced fabrication techniques within the manufacturing segment, driving demand in raw materials especially wafers, etch gases, precursors, photoresists and CMP consumables are driving a positive growth outlook. Although a potential slowdown of the memory market in 2019 is a concern, the overall outlook for the semiconductor market remains solid due to broad-based growth trends in data centers, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (MI), automotive and industrial segments. With these in mind, the hiring outlook within the Semiconductor industry still remains positive. We’re seeing that expectations of companies are getting higher with a stronger demand in specific and niche skill sets for engineering positions and for leadership roles.
We have seen the major flavor industry players develop beyond their roots to identify around the more holistic concept of “taste” rather than mere “flavor”. Examples include Givaudan’s acquisition of natural extracts supplier Naturex and IFF acquiring Frutarom. Firmenich’s launch of its Natural and Clean Label platform also shows the sector’s focus on clean label extracts, aimed at creating “great tasting, natural and traceable food and beverage experiences.”
Health-conscious, busy consumers today are increasingly seeking quick plant-based options with vegetables replacing their previous meat-focused diets. This has resulted in manufacturers and ingredient suppliers being under increasing pressure to deliver ready meals that meet consumers growing interest in healthy, sustainable and ethics driven plant-derived ingredients and products. There is also a greater focus on positive nutrition such as added protein and superfoods, although this trend could be slightly subdued in an uncertain 2019 economy due to its higher product cost. Satisfying the demands of increasingly adventurous consumers will likely be the key driver of product development going forward.Animal Nutrition Industry
When looking at the global picture for animal nutrition, some of the same trends as in human nutrition can be noticed. Much like human nutrition, animal nutrition customers are becoming even more health conscious and are increasingly looking for organic ingredients as well as antibiotic-free and non-GMO products.
The push for advanced technologies are also having an impact in the industry, with companies developing solutions to monitor, measure and manage animals, by creating online platforms for data-driven agriculture. For example with Pig facial recognition technology, farmers will be able to identify individual swine for customised feed, care and treatment plans, which will greatly help in driving a higher pigs per sow per year (PSY) and also lower death rates of piglets. Improving animal welfare has also been an increasingly important topic in the industry, with companies combining nutrition and technological innovation to elevate sustainability and welfare in animal production
African swine fever (ASF), trade uncertainties and China’s economic slowdown, will likely have a significant impact on the business performance of Animal Nutrition companies in 2019.
Southeast Asia remains a region with strong potential where the demand for infrastructure is mainly driven by increases in the urban population. Governments continue investing in essential projects for transportation, energy and water. Singapore is a good example with public sector works accounting for 60% of the construction market. Megaprojects include Changi Airport’s Terminal 5, DTSS Phase 2, the North-South Corridor and Rail-related developments. Global companies contracted on these projects see their pipeline of work reinforced although the market remains highly competitive with the growth of local mid-size firms.
The hiring outlook for Engineering recruitment remains positive. We expect continued hiring in particular for complex infrastructure developments such as airports, data centers and healthcare facilities, across the region. Employers are particularly interested in candidates who have niche specialisms. Although mergers and acquisitions between engineering multinationals have produced some retrenchments, small and mid-size companies continue to grow and expand their portfolio of projects overseas. As some consultancies and contractors are adapting their model to penetrate markets more efficiently, they expect candidates not only to possess strong technical knowledge but also commercial acumen and the ability to be client-facing.
Human resources Technologists and Tech-savvy human resources professionals are in demand as organisations continue their digital transformation journey. Applying robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into human resources processes, certain work-streams can be digitalised and simplified to achieve better productivity and employee experiences. As companies embrace these new ways of working and help their employees gain relevant expertise, the demand for human resources change and learning professionals is on the rise to ensure better adoption of digital transformation ensuring employees are digitally-upskilled or re-skilled and not left behind.
Employees are seeking more holistic rewards - more than just fair salaries but overall work environment and benefits, that promote mental and physical health, work-life balance and innovative workplace culture. Rewards professionals with wellness program experience are increasingly in demand.
“Employee Experience” (EX) and the “Human-Centricity” approach in delivering human resources solutions, continues to be a top priority for human resources to ensure better employee experience, engagement and retention. Human resources professionals continue to incorporate EX initiatives in their human resources designs, framework and interventions.
Learning design and technology is in demand as companies deliver learning solutions through online training and mobile-based learning. This empowers employees to choose their learning channel, including “on-demand”, “on-the-go”, “bite-sized” and “social” learning. Companies that have recently implemented such initiatives have seen better take up rates.
Organisations are increasingly looking at human resources analytics to develop a data-driven talent strategy and this has resulted in newly created positions such as human resources analytics and workforce planning.
There is also a trend towards HR leaders taking on crucial roles in business transformation projects, which include digital transformation, agile working and business performance improvements. Some have also stepped into COO roles, which reflect the fact that the people agenda is critical to bringing their organisations into the digital era.
There is growing demand for CHROs who have demonstrated a deep understanding of the business drivers.Finance & Accounting
The hiring outlook for Finance recruitment within Commerce & Industry remains positive.
The role of the CFO is being redefined due to changes in technology and management practices. CFOs and their teams are increasingly expected to partner business leaders in supporting complex decisions. To keep pace with these expectations, CFOs have to adopt an agile operating model that allows easy deployment of resources and develop Finance capabilities for the digital age.
Technical expertise in data modelling and analytics continue to be in demand as Finance professionals strive to leverage data-driven insights to support business strategies and operational decision making. Within the Consumer, Retail and Hospitality sectors, Finance Business Partners with expertise in revenue, client and competitor analytics are highly sought after, particularly those who have deployed proactive revenue management strategies. With the decline in M&A activities across asset intensive sectors such as Oil & Gas and Metals & Mining industries, there has been increased demand for Strategy and Finance Business Partners with track records in extracting productivity gains from existing assets.
Whilst technical skills could help open doors, there is increased emphasis on Finance professionals who can operate effectively in cross-functional teams, evaluate data insights and develop action plans to improve the financial health of the organisation.Supply Chain & Procurement
The ongoing transformation and expansion of Singapore’s Procurement & Supply Chain (P&SC) functions continues to shape the recruitment market. P&SC is seen as a critical, strategic and commercial partner to the organization rather than just a tactical function. Most organizations are establishing regional footprints in APAC, especially Singapore, by setting up regional distribution centers closer to customers, and reduce cost and lead times. Centralized teams are being established in Singapore, mainly because of the strong infrastructure and availability of specialised talent.
P&SC is looking to further digitize which is leading to an increased centralization of functions and also automation which provides avenue to achieve cost reduction. Hot topics include automation of procurement processes by leveraging on blockchain technology, the role of big data and analytics in understanding spending patterns and cost saving opportunities, Industry 4.0 and also recognizing possible areas of disruption and buying trends of the future. However, some MNCs have moved away from having APAC regional offices to developing Supply Chain & Procurement in-country strategies. Increasing numbers of e-commerce startups in Singapore is also a driver of demand.