Last week, following the publication of OCBC’s Q1 results, we predicted that the bank would hire heavily in technology this year, in response to rising customer usage of online platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, speaking at OCBC's virtual annual general meeting, CEO Samuel Tsien provided some further hints that tech recruitment will be buoyant and that current tech staff will be kept busy in 2020.
OCBC has temporarily shut 22 of its 46 branches in Singapore during the circuit breaker, and has recorded big uplifts in digital transaction volumes across several of its services. For example, online trading volume jumped 104% compared with Q4, and there was a 2.4-fold year-on-year rise in accounts opened digitally by small and medium-sized enterprises, according to Tsien’s presentation yesterday.
The CEO said OCBC will continue to invest in technology and digitalisation initiatives on the back of these surging numbers. What type of tech skills might be sought after at OCBC this year? Tsien provided some clues by saying that the investment would be in the areas of customer interaction, customer experience, internal processing, and infrastructure.
OCBC currently has 56 Singapore-based vacancies in information technology and analytics on its careers website, just over a quarter of its island-wide openings across all functions. This number is likely to rise in the coming weeks and months, say IT recruiters in Singapore.
However, OCBC may not find it entirely straightforward to hire tech professionals as other banks in Singapore are also in the market for tech talent, despite a depressed job market in most other job sectors. Last week one of OCBC’s main rivals, DBS, made a far more overt statement about its tech investment – it’s aiming to add 360 technologists to its headcount this year, over and above replacing staff who leave.
Tsien also said yesterday that increased adoption of digital services is expected to translate into higher net operating profit over the longer term, because of reduced manpower costs and fewer branches and offices being open in the future, even after the circuit breaker restrictions are eased. But this does not seem to suggest that branch staff will lose their jobs as OCBC has pledged not to make retrenchments during the pandemic. Retraining and redeployment seem more likely if branches close.
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