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I’m an overseas banker moving to Singapore but headhunters won’t answer my emails

I’m a mass-affluent banker working for ICICI in Mumbai, but in just three months I’m relocating to Singapore. In theory, I’m lucky to be moving to a larger and more mature financial centre, but there’s a catch: I’m going because my husband’s tech company has transferred him there. I don’t have any calls with recruiters lined up, and the weeks are counting down.

I pushed my husband to take the transfer partly because I thought it would be fairly straightforward for me to get one or two initial interviews underway, or at least start talking with a few recruiters in my field. While I knew I was unlikely to land a job all the way from India, I thought I could get the wheels in motion. Why did I think that, despite knowing that banks in Singapore are generally focused on hiring local people?

Firstly, there’s strong demand for talent in priority/privilege banking, and I know that many RMs from India and other foreign countries are already working in the field in Singapore. I’m certainly not in a sector in which banks are finding it easy to hire. Secondly, unlike most overseas applicants, I’m fully committed to living in Singapore – we’ve already found an apartment there and my Dependant’s Pass visa is already approved. I’m hardly what employers would call a ‘flight risk’. Thirdly, I have a decent CV, and am fairly experienced – I've been in banking since 2009.

With the above in mind, about three weeks ago I began researching recruiters in Singapore who deal with RM jobs. I then contacted 12 of them via Linkedin messages or email. So far none of them have even responded. Next week I’m going to follow up with phone calls, but the initial silence suggests this won’t make much difference.

I’m just hoping that when I actually land in Singapore and get through quarantine, I’ll be able to speak to recruiters, because they’ll see that I’m ‘on the ground’. I think emails from overseas get deleted or ignored almost by default. On the other hand, perhaps when I do speak to them, they’ll tell me that the job market isn’t great for non-Singaporeans. I’ll just have to wait and see!

So far the only people in Singapore who’ve said they’ll meet me are ex-colleagues of my current ICICI workmates – RMs from India now at Standard Chartered and Citi in Singapore. But even they are reluctant to say much until I’ve arrived. In short, my pre-departure job planning has been fairly disastrous.

Despite all this, I’m looking forward to the move. When I do eventually get a job (and I now think this could take months, not weeks), I will face challenges, least of all having to partially rebuild my book of clients. But in the long term, I want to move from mass-affluent banking into private banking. Singapore is the wealth hub of Asia, so it’s a far better place than India to make this career move – and many Indian bankers have made the transition a few years after shifting to Singapore.

If I achieve my career goal, I’ll get to work on better products and – more importantly – I’ll be making more money. It’s this prospect of being able to earn a lot more in Singapore that is keeping me optimistic about my relocation, despite the unexpected initial setbacks in my job search.

Ananya Laghari (not her real name) is a Mumbai-based relationship manager who's about to move to Singapore.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


AUTHORAnanya Laghari Insider Comment
  • Ju
    Just wandering
    9 January 2021

    So an average Singaporean son spends 2 years in Military service, and then finishes his University at about 22-24 yo, waits months trying to get a job he wants in his own country, if he’s lucky he gets the job which his uni trained him for or the job he desires. But most end up taking any decent paying job they can get.

    And then there is you, High Almighty Mother of Entitlement, complaining that recruiters are not giving you attention.

    There are people without a degree doing a fantastic job as RMs, what makes you think you deserve it? That’s right, you don’t even need a degree to become a private banker here. Just a good personality and basic education will suffice.

  • Ge
    George Lee
    21 February 2020

    Or perhaps your skills aren't all you've hyped it up to be..

  • No
    15 August 2019

    you are so self entitled.. it's beyond belief. what makes you think that a job is promised to you? because you consider yourself better than local singaporeans? we have many of your kind here... and what i mean by that is... selfish.. arrogant... self entitled pieces of trash that couldnt even find work in your own country. please learn a little humility. it will go a long way

  • Pp
    3 August 2019

    Here's an idea... Yet your exICICI buddies working at Stanchart etc to engineer a voluntary resignation of a local staff, and then fill you in that job. Many subcontinentals have gotten jobs in Singapore this way for decades... It's tried and true!

  • Ha
    Hassan Elnahas
    17 March 2019

    When did Singaporeans become this arrogant?

    Yes - its your country (no-one says otherwise) and your government and people have done a wonderful job of creating wealth for all over the past decades. But without foreign workers (in all fields - white and blue collar) you would have to shut shop till you learned a whole new array of skills - including management / leadership as well as how to make your own beds and lay cement.

    You should be proud of all you accomplished but that is no reason to put down someone from India - a country that has supplied much of your talent over the past 50 years and beyond. Her husband clearly has skills of value to be hired for a move from Mumbai to SG. She wants to work while there and add new skills herself to move up to Private Banking.

    Shame on you for looking down on someone looking to contribute and better herself.

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