554 new jobs at Singapore banks as headcount surges

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Headcount at Singapore’s local banks has risen by 554 over the past 12 months, because of new hiring at UOB and post-takeover staff integration at DBS, partly offset by a fall in staff levels at OCBC.

DBS’s newly released Q3 financial results show that it employed 934 more people year on year. But the bank has not been on a hiring spree – the rise is primarily attributed to staff from the “ANZ integration”. ANZ sold its wealth and retail businesses in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia to DBS last year. Its Singaporean and Chinese operations have already been migrated into DBS.

Technology “insourcing” and hiring also explain some of the DBS headcount increase. As we reported earlier this year, DBS has moved development jobs in-house that were previously performed by third-party IT vendors.

Headcount at UOB, meanwhile, is up by 219 compared with Q3 last year, according to its financial results. UOB has been hiring for front-office and support functions in its private bank, says a headhunter in Singapore who asked not to be named.

The bank’s quarterly results note a “strong performance from wealth management products” and a 9% year-on-year rise in expenses in its ‘group retail’ division (of which wealth is a part) because of “headcount growth to support regional expansion and higher business volume”.

UOB has also been recruiting in technology this year, Susan Hwee, head of group technology and operations, told us in September.

OCBC is the outlier in terms of staffing. Its headcount shrunk by 2% year on year, although this was mainly down to staff attrition rather than job cuts, says the Singapore recruiter.

The bank is becoming a better paymaster, however. Staff costs rose 4% year on year at OCBC for the first nine months of 2017, according to its financial report. OCBC put the increase down to “costs associated with the inclusion of Barclays WIM”.

OCBC-owned Bank of Singapore acquired Barclays’ Asian wealth unit in November 2016 and more than 60 expensive Barclays relationship managers (as well as other staff) joined OCBC’s workforce as a result.

More significantly, staff costs per head – total employee expenses (such as salaries and bonuses) divided by total headcount – at OCBC went up 6% (or S$3,547) over the same nine-month period, as the second table below shows. UOB’s per-head costs were also up by an inflation-beating 4.3%.

Despite average costs falling at DBS, the table confirms that it still pays significantly better than the other two Singapore-based banks. It spent an average of S$91,460 on each employee in the year to end-September, while UOB and OCBC spent S$64,905 and S$62,721 respectively.

DBS has more employees working in highly-paid investment banking and trading functions. The firm ranked third behind Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan for Southeast Asia investment banking revenue for the first three quarters of the year, according to Dealogic. UOB and OCBC were not in the top 10.

Image credit: primeimages, Getty

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