Two new Singapore banks where speaking Mandarin is a plus

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Two new Singapore banks where speaking Mandarin is a plus

The recent launch of two of Singapore’s four new digital banks – Green Link and ANEXT – has sparked a fresh wave of hiring activity that poses opportunities and new challenges for banking professionals.

Green Link and ANEXT are wholesale banks, while the other two digibanks – led by Grab and Sea – have full licenses but are not expected to launch until later this year.

These digital banks will require staff to adapt to a different style of work as they tackle the challenges of a frontier industry for the first year or so and then adapt to more traditional banking-related services once they get more established, according to recruiters.

Candidates tend to have a lot of questions and are seeking clarity on what type of hours they can be expected to work, what their actual roles will be and what kind of learning curve they will face, conditions that are notably different from established banks in Singapore.

“During the initial stages a lot of work is going to be hands-on building the fundamentals, but when they go into the soft launch and slowly transition into business as usual everyone’s job is going to change,” says Black Swan Group recruitment manager Shingo Wong. He says many candidates view digital banking with excitement, although they acknowledge these opportunities can also bring on a sense of apprehension.

Because the sector is new, it tends to appeal to early and mid-career professionals who feel they have time to return to the traditional banking industry if things don’t work out.

“It’s not too difficult for them to hit the reset button,” Wong says, referring to the ability of banking staff to return to established roles at brick-and-mortar banks. He adds that bankers with more experience tend to view digital banks as offering “limited upside” because they may not have the luxury of investing years of work in an opportunity that does not pan out.

For the most part, these digital banks are recruiting directly for positions ranging from client facing and engagement to back office operational support. These include risk management and compliance roles, operations roles and support functions, front office, finance and tech roles such as project managers, IT systems administrators, and data architects.

“They are starting with the crucial hires which is a steady and right move, so as to not expand too quickly,” says Selicia Low, senior consultant, banking and financial services at Ambition in Singapore, referring to the recruitment strategy at Green Link.

Green Link and ANEXT both have backing from mainland Chinese enterprises. Green Link is owned by Greenland Holdings and supply chain financing platform Linklogis Hong Kong, while ANEXT is backed by Ant Financial.

Low says Green Link has a unique business strategy that should make it appealing to candidates looking to the long term. “To many banking talents and professionals, a platform with clear strategy and business direction is very important for their career growth,” says Low. “Green Link has a digital wholesale bank license and a focus on serving micro, and small and medium enterprises with banking and financial services.”

Wong says candidates seeking jobs at either Green Link or ANEXT Bank would likely be required to speak business-level Mandarin in addition to meeting other language requirements.

For the most part, joining a digital bank backed by mainland Chinese investment shouldn’t be regarded as a roadblock to long-term career growth as staff would benefit from opportunities to grow within the bank's internal management structure.

Photo by Jack Hunter on Unsplash

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