BLOGS & OPINION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Emma Charnock, Chris Mead and Christine Wright

A healthy but tight jobs market


The October-December Hays Quarterly Report confirms that our jobs market is very healthy, but very tight, with a growing list of skills now in short supply in the banking and finance sectors.

The job market is very healthy as businesses ramp up their hiring activity. Employers are putting on permanent as well as temporary staff and those organisations that reduced headcount during the GFC are now growing their teams to take advantage of business conditions. Even at the support level employers are recruiting to fill skills gaps.

But increased demand has quickly exposed the underlying shortage of specialist skills. The cloud above job security may have gone, but we’re bracing for a storm for skills.

In order to help overcome emerging skills shortages, employers need to take action. It’s safe to say that most employers we speak to are aware that the market is becoming candidate short again. Subsequently there has been an increase in the number of candidates who receive multiple job offers and counter offers. Employers are also starting to shorten their recruitment timeframes in response to the growing competition for the top talent, and are becoming flexible in their set requirements. They’re also investing in their branding in order to ensure the best possible market perception.

We also advise employers to differentiate their offering to appeal to potential candidates. Knowing what factors each jobseeker is likely to base their decision making on is critical to a successful hire. For example, we suggest organisations communicate clear progression opportunities.

According to the October to December Hays Quarterly Report, the following skills are in demand:

In China, there are many manufacturing companies expanding their operations into China. This is creating demand for finance professionals with strong cost accounting skills, which are a must within the heavy manufacturing field.

The global financial crisis raised awareness of risk monitoring and control concepts. As a result candidates with an internal control and compliance mindset will be highly regarded. Also, internationally recognised accounting qualifications are essential for most mid to senior level roles.

The banking industry is recruiting across the majority of functions due to the improved economic conditions. An increasing number of foreign banks are getting their retail banking licenses which has spurred demand at the retail branch level.

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In Hong Kong, regulations continue to change and tighten. With this comes more focus on internal controls and risk management so there is high demand for professionals with experience in Basel II/III and capital reporting. Changes in IFRS requirements have increased the need for candidates with current experience in this area.

There is high demand for Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) Sales professionals. This is due to an increase of China related product offerings via ETFs which can now be cleared on the Hong Kong Exchange. Fixed Income Traders are also highly sought after with the introduction of RMB clearing in August. This is the first time this has happened outside of China.

Chris Mead, General Manager of Hays in Singapore has this update.

In Singapore there has been an increased demand for candidates with strong IFRS and accounting policy experience due to ongoing changes. In particular, those with a focus on how IFRS applies to financial instruments will be highly sought after.

Candidates with strong Basel and capital adequacy experience are also in demand. The imminent implementation of Basel III is likely to see this trend continue into next year and beyond.

In the commercial sector, cost-focused Management Accountants are still sought after as businesses are maintaining their focus on driving down costs wherever possible.

In the banking sector there is a tightening of capital regulations which is creating high demand for senior banking professionals with strong regulatory and risk management experience, in particular credit risk, portfolio risk, compliance and economic capital.

Wealth Management and Private Banking continues to be an area in great demand, with many of the world’s major players announcing growth and development plans in this sector.

Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Japan has this update.

In Japan, Financial Planners and Analysis Accountants are in demand as a growing number of employers realise the importance of financial analysis. In order to overcome the shortage of candidates, some employers are moving accountants into financial planning and analysis. We are also advising employers to consider junior candidates, who can be trained into roles.

General Accounting Managers are another area of demand. A large number of Finance Directors were recruited in 2007 – 2008 and have analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of their departments. They are consequently now looking for a strong 2IC following the restructures of 2009.

Demand is also up for regulatory reporting candidates in response to the extra reporting required by financial services industry regulatory bodies.

Market Risk candidates are increasingly sought by banks that now have tighter trading limits and thus require more expertise.

Meanwhile, credit job numbers are increasing significantly. Vacancies exist in all areas of the credit business, including Sales, Trading, Structuring, Middle Office and Product Control. Credit was hit the hardest during the GFC, but as the market recovers employers are recruiting again in order to replace lost personnel.

Product Controllers on traded products are also in demand. Product Control is always an area of demand and there is a great shortage in Tokyo. Following the GFC, banks are naturally looking to step-up their control environment, which is driving the increased demand.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Emma Charnock, Chris Mead and Christine Wright

Emma Charnock, Chris Mead and Christine Wright

Emma Charnock is the Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong and China.

Chris Mead is the General Manager of Hays Singapore.

Christine Wright is the Managing Director of Hays Japan.

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