Singapore, one of the top financial centres in the world, has been a magnet for banks seeking growth — its finance and insurance sector turned in a 50.6 per cent quarterly growth in the first quarter of 2013.
OCBC’s CEO said the importance of the financial services industry in Singapore will continue to rise.
Samuel Tsien, Group CEO of OCBC Bank, said: “It is difficult to say that manufacturing will be a major major driver for the economy going forward, so the financial services and services industry in general will always be the most important driver of future growth.
“And I think the government has been doing a fairly good job in creating a facilitative environment for that to continue to grow, and as a result of that, the talent requirement for the financial services industry will continue to rise.”
Mr Tsien said competition for talent is stiff, and it is not uncommon for banks to poach staff from more established players in the market.
He said: “Competition is very high, Singapore is a financial centre and Singapore is now opening up for additional banks to come in here. As the banks start to expand, they tend to take people away from more established banks.”
However, OCBC said it has managed to reduce staff attrition rate by one to two percentage-points every year in the last three years through various talent management programmes.
For example, 95 per cent of some 150 high potential staff who went through its Executive Development Programme in the past five years have stayed with the bank. OCBC said it has also doubled its employee engagement score over the last ten years.
OCBC hires about 6,000 staff in Singapore, and has been growing its headcount at an average of five per cent in the last three years (2010-2012). It says 94 per cent of its Singapore workforce are Singaporeans (80 per cent) and Singapore PR. Globally, OCBC employs 25,000 employees.
Come 2014, OCBC said it will also be launching a new Asia Leadership Programme to equip staff with more in-depth understanding and knowledge of the changes that are happening in a rapidly evolving Asia.
Mr Tsien said one challenge for the bank is getting its Singapore employees to accept overseas postings, which could last between three and six years. To support this, the bank has put in place various relocation support programme to facilitate staff when they make the transition.
Meanwhile, recruitment consultancy Robert Walters said hiring in the financial services industry in Singapore should continue to grow this year, tracking the gradual recovery in the global economy.
Christina Ng, associate director of financial services and legal at Robert Walters, said: “Banks are actually still looking at, in terms of key areas, where you have skill sets that are non-existent in Singapore, like Dodd Frank, FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), they will look overseas for some of these talent.
“You will see certain segments like legal, compliance, risk, anything within the controls environment picking up and these still remain pretty much in demand.”
In addition, Robert Walters said banks are also likely to step up on hiring to drive growth in the corporate banking and wealth management segments.