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How banking jobs in Singapore have totally changed – and what to do now to get them

If you needed any more convincing that banks in Singapore are increasingly becoming havens for technologists, new data reveals the vast extent of their tech hiring. More than a quarter (27%) of current Singapore-based vacancies across large banks are in tech-related roles, including digital-banking and data positions as well as those requiring coding skills, according to our analysis of banks’ careers websites.

The table below shows tech vacancies as a percentage of total openings across 13 of the largest banks in Singapore (to avoid skewing the figures, we excluded firms that have fewer than 10 jobs in total, such as Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale).

Goldman Sachs and DBS – the two banks that now constantly refer to themselves as tech firms (DBS optimistically thinks it’s a “23,000-strong startup”) – top our table. Goldman uses Singapore as a back-office hub and many of its current roles are in operations technology (think, prime clearing and trade processing).

In terms of the actual number of tech vacancies, however, US rivals JP Morgan and Citi both put Goldman (which has 10 jobs) in the shade. JPM, for example, is advertising for 44 technologists right now – or 37% of its overall vacancies. A similar proportion (33%) of its 3,000 Singapore staff work in tech. As we reported last year, the firm uses Singapore as a regional centre for robotics, machine learning and other leading-edge technologies.

Predictably enough, tech vacancies at Singapore’s three local banks are high in both volume and percentage terms. DBS is trying to boost its tech recruitment by running an annual hackathon, Hack2Hire. The bank aims to take on about 100 people a year via this event, including scrum masters, app developers, full stack developers, DevOps engineers, QA engineers, and UI/UX developers.

But advertising for tech professionals is one thing; bringing them on board is another. At an event organised by eFinancialCareers last October, in-house recruiters at several banks said their teams were struggling to hire enough technologists, because of competition from rival banks and big tech companies. Firms such as Google, Grab, Facebook and Amazon have large operations in Singapore and have many ex-banking technologists within their ranks. People do sometimes move the other way, however. As we reported last week, Google director Charlie Cheng has just joined DBS in a senior cloud job.

“I expect the movement of talent between banking and tech to be even more fluid in 2019,” says Yien Quek, an associate manager in IT at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Singapore. “As banks adopt cutting-edge technologies, professionals with strong skills within big data, software and cloud will be more sought after than those with banking domain expertise. Financial institutions will face increased talent competition from well-funded startups and big technology companies,” he adds.

Some banks in Singapore will not be so trouble by all this competition. At HSBC, which uses Hong Kong as its Asian hub for digital development, tech roles amount to only 3% of total Singapore openings. Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse were among the firms to have offshored technology roles away from Singapore (primarily to India) earlier this decade. Their tech recruitment in the Republic has remained comparatively low ever since.

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Image credit: Musat, Getty

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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