What to look out for this Q2 – Compliance in Singapore

Q1 has been anything but typical when it comes to recruitment. The conservatism of banks has been reflected in the interview processes - hiring for new and replacement headcounts have been delayed, interviews take twice as long to conclude and salary offers have been less than ideal in many cases.

While hiring within the financial institutions have been on an overall decline when compared to the first quarter of 2016, Asset & Wealth Management firms as well as Fintech companies have seen the most recruitment activity. Pressure on Asset Management firms and Private Banks since the 1MDB probes, recent string of Wealth Management buy overs and MAS’ push to make Singapore the next Fintech hub are some reasons driving the recent movements on both permanent and contract hires in these areas.

On top of sector-specific recruitment, hiring managers are anticipating potential challenges in hiring the right talent in the following 3 areas:

AML/Financial Crime Compliance
This area continues to be the top priority of hiring within the Compliance space. A common concern that most hiring managers have raised in this area is over-specialisation; though not so much at the junior level. The gap tends to be more obvious with senior candidates (10+ years) where hiring managers find that they are unable to double (or triple) hat, especially during restructuring.

There will also be an increasing need for professionals with Risk Management exposure in FCC– particularly on transaction monitoring. With stricter MAS audits and guidelines, banks will be required to have a more robust risk framework on monitoring than they have today. Something to keep an eye on as we move into the next quarter of 2017!

Global Market Compliance
Unlike most other Compliance specialisations, those that work in Global Market Compliance tend not to move around too much and are measured in speaking with recruiters. This explains why recruitment in this space tends to progress a lot slower and finding a suitable candidate is more often a miss than a hit.

The biggest knowledge gaps in the local market have been in the areas of OTC product and FICC - hiring managers have concerns that candidates with the lack of in-depth knowledge will not be able to provide business with sound advice in pressing situations. This is made more challenging when few hiring managers have the luxury of time to train from scratch and are always looking to bring on board someone who is experienced and ready to hit the ground running.

If you’re starting out your career in this space, gain experience in 2-3 various products. Working with a reputable boss will help greatly in a niche market like this since most senior professionals in the market know each other and makes for convenient endorsement!

Product Suitability
Most banks have the Product Suitability team for the region sitting in Hong Kong, while Singapore houses a significantly smaller pool of experienced professionals. Senior leaders in the Compliance space expect increasing emphasis in this area, however are finding a lack of quality profiles in the market. Those willing to train their team up often look at candidates with audit/investigations experience. Ex-front office personnel looking to move into Compliance can also consider this switch as increasing numbers of hiring managers ease their requirements due to a shortage of talent.

As we move into the second quarter of 2017, we will continue to see the impact of 2016’s unexpected political and economic happenings through hiring demands and pay increments (or lack of). If you’re planning to make a move in the coming year, you might want to start getting in touch with recruiters in the market to find out what advice specific to your experience and ensure that expectations are realistic. Happy job searching!