Singapore 2006: Good year vs. bad year
Singapore's financial services renaissance continued apace in 2006. But not all areas were reborn equal. What came out top and bottom of the heap? Here's our verdict.
Who dares deny that Singapore's booming private banking sector did well last year? Alongside a flurry of hiring, UBS announced plans to set up a wealth management campus in Singapore aimed at attracting and developing Asian talent while the Credit Suisse Business School established a campus in Singapore - its first outside Zurich. There were also reports that Credit Suisse has plans to hire 140 relationship managers in the not too distant future. It was good news for everyone except Singapore's established private banks, which fell foul of a fit of poaching.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam emerged as hot areas last year, and demand for bankers with contacts in those countries was correspondingly heated. "Indonesia is becoming a magnet for renewed foreign direct investment thanks to its natural resources base, and Singapore is where many project finance projects are managed from," says independent recruitment specialist Christopher Lewis.
Meanwhile, the Singaporean stock market is emerging as the listing destination of choice for Malaysian and Vietnamese companies, driving demand for equity capital markets bankers with Malaysian and Vietnamese affinities.
Derivatives and advanced financing knowledge:
"Singapore is taking on board the newest financing techniques and rolling them out for increasingly savvy clients," says Gene Shen, a partner at search firm the Options Group. Barclays Capital revealed plans to add as many as 400 staff in Singapore, across areas such as equity and credit derivatives. Meanwhile, the Singapore Stock Exchange successfully attracted electronic trading hubs from the world's major futures exchanges, including CME, CBOT, Euronext Liffe, Eurex and SFE.
Singapore showed its entrepreneurial bent by stealing a march on Hong Kong with the introduction of REIT structures. Asian investors are obsessed with property, and Singapore is encouraging a sophisticated real estate investment instrument to flourish on its exchange. Watch this space for hiring in 2007.
Lack of due diligence:
This one applies particularly to Chinese companies seeking listings on the Singapore Stock Exchange. If there's anything that can cost finance professionals their careers, it's being involved in a Chinese scam. The most famous one involved China National Aviation Oil last year, but there are plenty of others in the wings.
Compared to smog-filled Hong Kong, Singapore likes to boast of its cleanliness. It's unfortunate therefore that many Singaporean entrepreneurs are active in the Indonesian logging industry. The result of forest fires has come back to haunt Singapore with some stifling smoky days.
Singapore's population of 4.5m is struggling to keep pace with the financial services hiring boom that's hit the country. Pay is rising and recruiters are already intimating that banks are looking at low cost alternative locations (read Mumbai).
eFinancialCareers' editorial team will now be taking a festive break before returning in the New Year. A very Merry Christmas to all our readers.