Recruitment in Singapore’s financial services sector remains buoyant, but talents must update their skills in order to stay competitive.
Banking and financial professionals continue to be in high demand, on the back of strong growth in the sector, which is estimated to have generated 7,800 new jobs over the past two years.
This trend is expected to continue going forward, with Singapore’s government setting the target for 3,000 new financial services jobs to be created each year.
Alongside demand from traditional finance companies, such as insurers, fund managers, and, to a lesser extent, banks, Singapore’s burgeoning fintech sector is also on a recruitment drive, according to premium HR solutions provider, Capita.
Singapore now has the third busiest fintech market in the region, with investments in the sector more than doubling in 2018 to hit $492.3 million, as foreign start-ups are attracted to the city state.
Digital disruption displacing jobs
But while growing demand for talents potentially puts banking and finance professionals in a strong position, Capita warns they must upgrade their skills if they are to remain competitive as incumbent institutions and challenger banks alike embrace digital technology.
Automation is replacing some of the manual processes in the banking industry that used to be carried out by people, while enhanced use of data and analytics is now providing real-time insights into investments and businesses.
Capita warns that as new technologies continue to transform the banking and finance landscape, new jobs will be created, existing ones will change, and some positions will be displaced completely.
As a result, it predicts finance professionals will face a higher frequency of change in their job functions than previously.
The new technology is also leading to a higher level of churn with finance industry professionals moving in and out of jobs at a faster rate than has been seen in the past.
Transforming the financial industry and its workforce is high on the agenda of regulator the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which is encouraging the adoption of new technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.
It has introduced a range of supportive policies to facilitate innovative business models in the sector, including creating a regulatory sandbox to enable companies to pilot new products and services in a controlled environment without facing the burden of full regulatory compliance.
Alongside these measures, MAS has also set a target to expand Singapore’s financial services talent pool and deepen the specialist skillsets of employees in the sector to enable companies to make optimal use of technology.
It is looking to help both new entrants to the sector and mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians – so-called PMETs – up-skill through professional conversion programmes.
Future-proofing your skillset
To help finance professionals gear up for the changes, industry body the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) also last year launched a new career centre to provide a one-stop shop for advice and professional development for people working in the sector.
Together with MAS, it commissioned a study into the impact data analytics and automation is expected to have on jobs in the financial services sector.
Out of the 121 different finance and banking roles it looked at, 40 were identified as likely to be highly impacted by new technology and could potentially be replaced by automation altogether.
These included jobs ranging from mortgage specialists, to investment performance analysts, to traders to underwriters.
On a brighter note, finance professionals can use the study to identify what skills they are likely to need in order to future-proof themselves for changes in the industry and be in a position to continue adding value to their company.
For example, the report predicts economists and research analysts working in front office roles in investment banking will need to acquire advanced digital skills, including analytics and computational modelling, programming and coding, and advanced data story telling in order to remain relevant.
It also helps to match professionals to relevant training programmes in Singapore that can help them acquire these skills.
IBF believes transformation in the industry will happen quickly, and professionals will need to have up-skilled within the next three to five years in order to remain competitive.
Responding to the challenge
The good news is that it thinks there will always be a role for human expertise in the industry, particularly people with the ability to deliver creative and innovative solutions.
Singapore’s universities are also responding to the challenge by introducing programmes specifically geared to helping people gain the skills they need for the future.
Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Social Sciences both offer programmes in data analytics and computational modelling, while Nanyang Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic have courses in programming and coding.
Other programmes on offer cover skills including data engineering, data interpretation and analysis, agile innovation, cyber security and automation management.
Many of the programmes are offered on a part-time basis, enabling professionals to acquire the skills they need without having to take time out of employment.
Finance roles in demand
With this wave of change taking place in the industry, Capita predicts compliance officers will be one of the most in demand roles in the banking and finance sector in 2019, as institutions navigate their way through regulation relating to new and emerging technologies.
In fact, compliance roles are among the best-paid jobs in banking and finance, with a head of compliance typically earning up to $18,000 a month, according to the 2019 Singapore Salary Guide, produced by Capita, Kelly Services and PERSOL Singapore.
Other positions that are expected to be in high demand include business analysts, risk analysts and client relationship managers.
The 2019 Singapore Salary Guide provides an insight into the latest salary trends for various positions across different industries in Singapore, based on analysis of thousands of actual transactions recorded on Capita, Kelly Services and PERSOL Singapore’s databases and supplemented by the market knowledge of senior recruitment professionals.
Talents looking to change jobs can use the guide as a way of benchmarking salary offers against the industry average.
The Guide can be viewed here: https://www.capitasingapore.com/2019-salary-guide