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Western banking technologists cut off from high-paying roles in Singapore

Threatening words for foreign companies that try to bypass local labour rules

Banking technologists chasing more lucrative roles in Singapore face fewer job opportunities as firms focus on recruiting local candidates and move IT functions to lower cost locations.

Singapore has long been a banking IT hub, but now faces stiff competition from even lower cost destinations like India and, increasingly, the Philippines. Generic development work is being carried out in these areas where wages are lower, said Oliver Hinchliffe, director of financial services recruiters Iban Asia.

Singapore remains a draw for more sophisticated roles, particularly for risk, compliance, regulation and finance roles, said Hinchliffe. “Singapore is still very attractive to senior banking technologists,” added Paul Bennie, director of UK IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean.

There's a big push to hire local candidates in Singapore, with increasing protests against the influx of foreigners into the country. The government is expected to announce measures that force companies to reduce their reliance on foreign talent in the 2013 budget. What's more, there's a readily available supply of talent coming out of universities in India and the Philippines meaning that the door has largely closed to Western expats, unless they have a niche skill-set unavailable locally. Big data projects are one such skill that is in demand, argues Hinchliff.

The latest salary survey by recruiters Robert Walters suggests that senior roles in Singapore can be lucrative, as the figures below demonstrate. A CTO/CIO role in London pays £150-200k ($229-306k), while an equivalent position in Singapore pays S$320-400k ($258-323k), for example.

Lower down the career ladder, salaries are similar, with programme managers earning £95-115k ($145-175k) in London compared to S$180-240k ($145-194k) in Singapore. For development roles, however, London still wins out – salaries come in at £55-90k ($85-138k) in the City, versus S$80-90k ($65-73k) in Singapore.

Singapore’s more favourable tax regime means that the senior positions look even better on a net basis. The CTO position pays $225-277k net of tax, for example, compared to $139-175k in the UK.

London salaries:


Singapore salaries:


AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • de
    desk hacker
    6 March 2013

    CTO/CIO - i.e. an MD, earning £150-200k? Don't think so. Try £400k upwards.

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