Why regulatory careers are now hotter than ever in Asian banking
Regulatory reporting is shedding its staid, box-ticking reputation as it rises up the priority list for banks in Asia and starts to offer more stimulating careers which require a broader range of skills. And this year it's tipped to attract candidates from risk, the Big Four and the regulators themselves.
The need for banks in Asia to file regulatory reports and prepare for inspections by local regulators – in particular the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC) – in increasing, driven by the growth of both domestic and global regulations. Cross-border initiatives with the mainland, such as Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, are also making Hong Kong’s regulatory landscape more complex.
“In Singapore, MAS regulatory reporting is becoming an even more critical function, needing on-the-ground knowledge and presence and requiring communication with various internal teams,” says Bien Law, a senior consultant at recruiters Marks Sattin Banking in Singapore. “And although banks have automated the consolidation of some regulatory information, a professional will still need to check, validate and present that information in the format required by MAS. Some functions can be outsourced, but not regulatory reporting,” she adds.
[efc_twitter text="Demand for regulatory reporting skills is also strong in Hong Kong"], says Simon Tulloch, director of compliance search at headhunters The Compliance Grid in Hong Kong. He says the list of skills currently sought after includes: large-shareholder reporting, trading-volumes reporting, capital-adequacy reporting, financial crime compliance, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering monitoring, counter financing of terrorism, surveillance records, and know your customer.
While many banks in Asia have regulatory reporting vacancies, a large chunk of the hiring this year will come from second-tier foreign players who are expanding in Hong Kong and Singapore – in particular Nomura, BNP Paribas and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, according to a Singapore-based recruiter who asked not to be named.
As banks in Singapore and Hong Kong bulk up in regulatory reporting in 2015, their recruitment and internal-transfer policies will need to be flexible – the talent pool in both cities is too small for them to regularly find perfect-match candidates. “This year banks will typically consider moving their staff from other finance roles, like financial reporting, or from risk management,” says Law from Marks Sattin.
She adds: “Although different notices are required to be reported for different types of financial institutions, the basic skill-set is quite transferable from an insurance firm to a corporate bank, for example. Accounting candidates from the Big Four are always a good consideration if they’ve performed statutory audits on financial institutions, giving them a strong regulatory knowledge of the industry.”
[efc_twitter text="If you’re looking to move into regulatory reporting, avoid doing it at a junior level"] – jobs can be stiflingly transactional before you move up the ranks.
Senior roles requiring direct contact with local regulators are highly sought after, says Tulloch from The Compliance Grid. “The ‘regulatory relationships’ role is often top of banks’ pile, with ex-government and embassy people entering,” he adds. “People who have solid experience dealing with regulators on non-routine inspections are also in demand, as are those who’ve worked in the regulators themselves, particularly the SFC in Hong Kong.”