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Headcount at Singapore banks surges by 4,541 in tech hiring binge

There are now 4,541 more people working for Singapore’s local banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – than there were just a year ago. The surge has been fuelled by technology hiring and DBS taking on former ANZ staff.

New additions to DBS account for 75% (3,392) of the rise across the three banks, according to the firms' recently released first-half financial results. As shown in the table below, headcount at DBS now stands at a record 25,697, following the incorporation of ANZ employees into the bank. In 2016, DBS acquired the Australian bank’s retail and wealth units in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia, but the final integration of employees didn’t take place until February this year.

Technology “insourcing” (as DBS calls it) also explains some of the headcount increase. As we reported last year, the bank has been moving development jobs in house, having previously used third-party IT vendors.

Meanwhile, DBS has also been hiring from the job market on the back of rising profits in key divisions. Excluding ANZ and insourced staff, its headcount is still up by 460 year on year. In institutional banking, for example, pre-tax profit increased 71% to S$891m compared with a year ago as income rose across cash management, trade finance and investment banking. Even in treasury markets, which recorded a loss of S$50m for the first half, DBS’s results point to more hiring: expenses were 16% higher in the unit partly because staff costs went up.

UOB has been recruiting even more people from the job market than DBS, adding 744 year on year, an average of 62 new employees a month. Its H2 results suggest much of this increase has been within its technology and digital banking teams. The bank is continuing to “invest in talent and infrastructure to support its digitalisation initiatives”.  As we’ve been reporting over the last year, much of UOB’s recent recruitment has focused on Singapore-based tech roles. UOB is taking on more engineers, analysts, digital designers, architects, project managers and data scientists, Susan Hwee, head of group technology and operations, told us.

OCBC, whose workforce has risen by 405, also notes “higher technology-related expenses” as it continues to “drive its digitalisation strategy”. As part of this, OCBC has been recruiting digital banking specialists, particularly within wealth and payments, Pranav Seth, the bank’s head of e-business, told us. And as we’ve noted in recent weeks, OCBC has also made senior hires in cyber security and financial crime.

Bank of Singapore, OCBC’s private bank, has been another focus for hiring as its assets under management reached US$102bn as at 30 June 2018, up 14% from a year ago. Headcount at BoS rose from 396 to 430 during the 2017 calendar year, according to the latest available figures from Asian Private Banker.  OCBC’s overall wealth management-related income (comprising revenue from insurance, private banking, asset management, stockbroking and other wealth management products) made up 31% of the group’s total income and grew to S$1.49bn, up 11% year on year.

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Image credit: dias46, Getty

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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