Singapore Banks Still Hiring, Bucking Global Firing Trend

Thursday, Feb 11 2016 02:45 PM

SINGAPORE — Good news for employees of Singapore’s three banks: The trio are still hiring to grow and fortify their operations, bucking the trend of their global peers axing jobs under the cloud of global economic uncertainty, China’s slowdown and a persistent slump in commodity prices that have hit many lenders across the world.

A DBS spokesperson told TODAY: “In Singapore, some of the areas we have been hiring for include retail banking, wealth management, as well as key support functions such as technology and operations, finance, risk and compliance.” Despite the volatile macro-economic environment, the bank is still hiring as it is “well-positioned to navigate the challenges with solid business fundamentals and resilient franchise,” she said.

“As the bank embarks on its digital journey, we have also started to bring in talent who are versed in technology and digital, who bring with them a digital skill set. As part of our workforce planning to meet changing organisational needs, we are hiring more UX (user experience) designers, coders, engineers and data analysts as the bank moves to meet the growing needs of our customers,” she added.

Ms Jenny Wong, Head of Group Human Resources at United Overseas Bank (UOB), said: “We take a long-term view on the potential of the region beyond the uncertainties of today. We remain on the look-out for like-minded individuals.”

Ms Jacinta Low, Head of Human Resources Planning at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), said: “We continue to plan our recruitment activities for the different divisions in the bank in line with our identified areas of growth.” More than 20 per cent of the bank’s vacancies every year are filled internally — a move in line with the lender’s future growth strategy led by people management and development, she added.

Top recruiting firms said the three local banks stand on strong fundamentals and are not expected to resort to the drastic staff reduction measures taken by many big global lenders. OCBC, DBS and UOB are ranked by financial publisher Bloomberg Markets among the top ten of the strongest banks in the world, underlining the hefty capital buffers and sound risk management of the lenders.

“For the local banks, there is no slowing down. Foreign banks are, however, holding back to see how the China impact pans out on Asia. There will an impact on Singapore given its high-cost structure despite being an ideal hub location with best of infrastructure capabilities. Bonuses this year, on an average across the industry, may be a third less than what was promised,” said Mr Grant Torrens, Business Director at Hays in Singapore.

Banks are also taking the opportunity during this uncertain time to consolidate their business operations and implement more efficient processes to increase productivity and reduce operating costs. “As a result, salary hikes and bonuses will be slightly impacted depending on the job position and function,” said Mr Foo See Yang, Vice President and Country General Manager of Kelly Services, Singapore.

British banking giant Barclays last month announced over 1,000 job cuts globally, with scores of employees from the Singapore office reportedly given the marching orders. Barclays is closing its cash equity research, sales and trading as well as its convertible bond-trading businesses across Asia, according to a memo sent to clients, Bloomberg reported. Earlier this month, Credit Suisse announced 4,000 job cuts globally after the Swiss bank reported its first annual loss since the global financial crisis.

Standard Chartered retrenched staff in Singapore late last year as a part of its move to axe 15,000 positions world-wide. The Asia-focused British bank announced nearly 4,000 consumer-banking job cuts with many from Asia, as part of its move to exit global institutional cash equities, equity research and equities capital market businesses.

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, announced last June it would slash 50,000 jobs worldwide — or about one in five positions — through 2017 as part of a global overhaul, albeit without clear signals on how hard the axe will fall on the region and Singapore. Malaysian lender CIMB Group has also announced plans to cut about 50 jobs last year, largely in equities-related positions across Asia, including about 15 positions in Singapore.

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Posted 11 Feb 2016 22:57 Updated 12 Feb 2016 11:34

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