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30% of current vacancies at Singapore banks are in a single job sector

If you’re looking for a job at one of Singapore’s three local banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – you stand a good chance of getting hired if you work in a technology-related function. Our analysis of the banks’ careers websites shows that a third of current Singapore-based vacancies across all three firms are in technology (including digital banking and data/analytics jobs, as well as engineering ones).

In percentage terms, UOB leads the pack: 40% of its 272 Singapore-based openings are in tech. This is no flash in the pan. A 1,443 year-on-year rise in the bank’s Q2 headcount was  mainly driven by tech hiring. UOB’s second quarter report partly attributes a 10% increase in total costs to “IT-related expenses” as it remained “committed to investing in talent and technology”. The firm is hiring, for example, for its new digital bank, TMRW, which is taking on people in specialist jobs such as UX and UI design, behavioural science, data analytics, and design thinking.

The majority of UOB’s current technology jobs, however, are in the main bank and sit in its Alexandra office rather than at Raffles Place, according to its careers site. What kind of tech development has UOB been focused on this year? An August presentation from Wee Ee Cheong, UOB’s chief executive officer, pointed to the bank increasingly using “data analytics and machine learning across customer touch points”, and launching its Mighty 2 payments app during the first half of the year.

DBS, meanwhile, has a slightly lower percentage (36%) of tech vacancies than UOB does, although as a bigger bank it has more tech jobs in terms of numbers. About 575 of the 1,363 new people that DBS added to its headcount in the year to end-June were what the firm classifies as “insourced” tech professionals – people who previously worked on DBS tech projects at vendors but are now employed by the bank.

DBS has also been poaching from both tech firms and banks. It’s been hiring, for example, senior engineers to lead its development of AI, deep-data engineering, APIs, and mobile applications, Soh Siew Choo, head of consumer banking and big data analytics technology, told us earlier this year. The firm’s annual recruitment hackathon, Hack2Hire, also helps it to add new junior developers – as many as 100 in Singapore and India – to its workforce.

OCBC’s tech hiring is less aggressive right now – it has fewer jobs on offer than its two local rivals and tech makes up a lower proportion (16%) of its overall Singapore vacancies. This percentage may well increase in the near future, however, and many of OCBC’s current roles already focus on emerging technologies rather than legacy systems. OCBC is recruiting more data scientists for its artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Singapore, for example. The unit, which launched last March with a team of just three, now employs about 30 data scientists, and OCBC wants its headcount to reach 40 next year, lab head Ken Wong told us earlier this month.

Wong’s AI Lab currently has two open roles, according to the OCBC careers site. If you want to work as a mid-level AI data scientist, you’ll need at least four years’ experience and a postgraduate degree in fields such as statistics, mathematics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. You’ll also need experience in “applying machine learning techniques and designing algorithms that are scalable and production-grade”.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s domestic banks are competing not just with each other for technologists but with global banks in the Republic, some of whom are now expanding in technology following years of offshoring to India and other lower-cost locations. JP Morgan, for example, employs about 1,000 Singapore-based staff working in tech, and its recruitment is also focused on emerging technology, including robotics, machine learning and chatbots. Tech firms such as Google, Grab and Amazon also sometimes recruit similar skillsets to DBS, OCBC and UOB – and some of their new local recruits have come from the banking sector.

Image credit: Mike Enerio, Unsplash

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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