If you’re looking to inject some stability into your IT or operations career in Singapore, working for an outsourcing company may now be preferable to working for a bank.
Offshoring jobs out of Singapore into cheaper offices elsewhere in Asia is not the only way banks have been reducing their back-office and fintech costs of late – some of these roles have been outsourced to external vendors.
But the crumb of career comfort for Singaporean operations and IT professionals is that these [efc_twitter text="outsourcing providers are now increasingly hiring in Singapore and they want people with local banking expertise"]. While the amount of vacancies at vendors is never likely to fully compensate for job losses at banks, recruiters have singled out the outsourcing sector as a growth market for jobs in 2015.
“We've seen a huge recent expansion in the vendor companies and their hiring is now very active,” says Vince Natteri, director of recruitment at search firm Pinpoint Asia. “This year vendors are one of the fastest growing sectors for our financial technology business in Singapore,” adds Craig Brewer, a director at recruitment agency FiveTen Group in Singapore.
He adds: “There’s steady demand from vendors who need people with Singapore experience and pretty much 100% of these roles require either working knowledge of a banking system or direct banking experience. The jobs are about 80% permanent as vendors want to lock in good people who they can move from one banking client to another.”
Within fintech in Singapore, the jobs that are “typically outsourced” are in application development, notably Java and .Net technologies, says Chay Creighton, a senior consultant at recruiters Greythorn Technology. “These more common skill-sets lend themselves to outsourcing as sufficiently-skilled teams can be deployed with little training needed. Also, development work is usually project based, which allows manpower to be beefed up or trimmed down according to fixed timelines.”
Back-office jobs are also opening at up at vendor firms in Singapore, mostly at analyst to associate level and in areas such as trade settlements and confirmations, brokerage payments and reconciliations, client services, project management, and business analytics, says Brewer from FiveTen.
The vendors themselves are a mix of Indian and Western companies. UBS, a pioneer advocate of the outsourced model, has alone worked with many of the major players, including Cognizant, HCL Technologies, Infosys, TCS and Wipro. While many of the vendors’ employees are based offshore, typically in India, a minority of them work on-site at banks in Singapore, in roles usually filled by local candidates rather than by relocated staff from headquarters.
For example, BT, the UK communications company that has provided network infrastructure services to Credit Suisse since 2007, has a team working at the Swiss bank in Singapore. Dimension Data, a South African vendor, currently has people at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore working on IT-system integration, according to a recruiter who asked not to be named.
If you want a job at a outsourcing company in Singapore, however, Avaloq is hiring in larger numbers. Deutsche Bank announced in September that from next year it would outsource its entire Singaporean wealth-management back-office operations to the Swiss vendor. Significantly, the jobs this will create will be in Singapore itself – Avaloq is opening a new processing centre there, similar to those it runs in Switzerland and Germany. “They are hiring currently for onshore roles in Singapore,” says the anonymous recruiter.
Candidate interest in jobs at Avaloq and other vendor firms in Singapore is (predictably) high. “It’s a chance to gain a first-mover advantage as outsourcing is now such a big banking-wide trend here – there are now more IT and support roles vacancies on the vendor side,” says Creighton from Greythorn.
“The earlier you move, the more time you have to accumulate experience in a vendor environment and gain exposure to a top-tier bank,” he adds. “Working for a vendor naturally puts you into a client-facing role even if you’re performing a back-office function and allows you to build specialist experience.”
Working hours can, however, be long when you initially start implementing new systems for a new client. “Also, salaries and bonuses are usually lower at vendor companies,” warns Natteri from Pinpoint Asia. “But vendors are perceived as being more stable – both from job-security and work-life balance standpoints. And the working environment is usually more casual compared with the IBs.”