Surge in digital investment sparks hiring boom in Singapore

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Surge in digital investment sparks hiring boom in Singapore

Investment into digital banking has soared in Singapore since the onset of Covid-19 as banks boost their online offerings, according to a new survey. This has increased hiring for technology jobs and exacerbated skills shortages, say recruiters.  

The pandemic has accelerated the integration of new technology and innovation in banking globally, the report by software firm Finastra found. In Singapore, this has led to the largest average increase in digital banking investment of any market (25%). Meanwhile, 84% of Singapore respondents said their bank has increased overall digital investment/budgets during the pandemic, also the highest percentage globally.

This investment in Singapore is driven by a combination of factors, including the creation of four newly licensed digital banks, the growth of fintech players – especially robo advisors and crypto firms – and traditional banks “defending their turf against the new entrants”, says Patricia Teo, director of the technology practice at Kerry Consulting.

Teo says the following four job functions have benefitted the most from the new investment:

Digital product owners: to rethink and reimagine the customer journey, creating a seamless online and offline experience.

Transformation leaders: to look at new organisational design, processes, and skill sets.

Engineers and architects: to replan the plumbing and to support new initiatives, marrying what’s relevant in old tech stacks with new tech.

Ecosystem / partnership builders: to harness synergies with external tech firms and other partners.

These professionals aren’t easy to hire in Singapore, however. “Even before the pandemic, IT talent shortages were already present. Covid has escalated banks’ initiatives to digitise their functions,” says Marie Tay, managing director of The Resolute Hunter. “Coupled with the digital-bank hiring scene, Covid has intensified hiring competition for both functional and technical IT roles, not just in banking, but among the fintech companies as well,” she adds.

“Tech has become more industry agnostic, so the candidates banks want are also courted by the tech startups, and Chinese and US tech giants. Senior digital thought leaders who have built and scaled up digital banking are very scarce,” says Teo.

As we’ve reported, travel and Employment Pass restrictions have limited the traditional flow of tech talent into Singapore from other countries, including India. Singaporean citizens make up only 35% of the tech workforce in financial services, according to recent figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The government has issued about 90 work passes for senior people in the tech sector since the launch of its new Tech.Pass scheme in mid-January. However, this is a comparatively small number, which does little to address overall talent shortages at rank-and-file level. Only some of these pass holders are working in financial services.

Photo by Doug Maloney on Unsplash

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