Hiring activity for finance and technology professionals hits a three-year high

10 February 2015

Hiring activity will be at its highest level in three years with Singapore companies keen to add additional finance and accounting, financial services and IT professionals to their ranks.

According to the latest Singapore Employment Report released by Robert Half, one in every two companies surveyed plans to increase headcount in the first half of the year.

The survey polled 400 senior hiring decision makers including Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), Financial Services business leaders and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) on their outlook and hiring intentions for the first two quarters of 2015. The data covers trends in three sectors:

  • Banking and Financial Services, including insurance
  • Finance and Accounting in a range of industries
  • Technology and IT

More than 50 per cent of companies in all three sectors plan to hire in the first two quarters of the year, making for an extremely active and competitive employment market.

Ms Stella Tang, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore said a growing number of companies are competing for a limited number of quality professionals.

“Two years ago, the percentage of companies making new hires was closer to a third. Now more than half of companies are increasing headcount."

“Robert Half’s survey shows every second company in Singapore is in a fight with their competition to secure available talent. With this many firms seeking new hires, the fight for talent will be tough.”

“We expect talented individuals who have not been given due recognition at their existing company to seek out a new firm in return for better pay and conditions,” Ms Tang said.

Table 1: Hiring forecast for Singapore for the first half of 2015

Banking & Financial Services  

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

38%

43%

52%

Maintaining headcount

51%

46%

39%

Freezing headcount

9%

10%

7%

Reducing headcount

2%

1%

2%

 

Commerce & Industry

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

37%

45%

53%

Maintaining headcount

56%

53%

39%

Freezing headcount

7%

3%

6%

Reducing headcount

0%

0%

2%

 

Technology

First Half of 2013

First Half of 2014

First Half of 2015

Expanding headcount

26%

35%

50%

Maintaining headcount

46%

59%

42%

Freezing headcount

14%

5%

6%

Reducing headcount

14%

1%

2%

 

The biggest turnaround in activity is among companies hiring technology professionals. Two years ago 14 per cent of companies were reducing technology staff while only 26 per cent were hiring. This year, two per cent of companies are reducing their technology headcount while 50 per cent are adding more manpower to their technology teams.

In the Financial Services sector, employment activity has risen steadily each of the last two years, with companies seeking to fill mid-level and senior positions. Banks and financial services companies are struggling to recruit the people they want because the demand for skilled professionals is high, and the positions which are vacant require specialised skills.

There is also a growing demand across companies in all industries for accounting as well as compliance professionals.

New Roles Being Created

An exciting aspect of the current employment market is the number of newly created positions becoming available as companies pursue new projects and initiatives.

When asked what was driving the demand for additional hires, the senior executives in all three sectors pointed to new initiatives and new markets.

Table 2: Reasons for increasing headcount

Banking & Financial Services

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New projects / initiatives

54%

64%

46%

50%

New market penetration

50%

36%

62%

54%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

50%

50%

46%

54%

Product or service expansion

47%

64%

46%

29%

Business growth or expansion (international)

42%

43%

42%

42%

Financial systems upgrades

22%

25%

15%

25%

Merger or acquisition

13%

11%

15%

13%

New regulatory requirements

5%

 

8%

8%

 

Commerce & Industry

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New projects / initiatives

59%

59%

57%

60%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

58%

64%

57%

53%

Business growth or expansion (international)

49%

50%

57%

40%

Product or service expansion

43%

45%

29%

53%

New market penetration

39%

55%

39%

27%

Financial systems upgrades

20%

14%

14%

30%

Merger or acquisition

4%

0%

7%

3%

 

 

Technology

Total

Small

(1-499 employees)

Medium

(500-999 employees)

Large

(1000 employees)

New projects / initiatives

64%

67%

67%

60%

New market penetration

38%

22%

46%

36%

Business growth or expansion (domestic)

34%

22%

29%

44%

Product or service expansion

33%

33%

38%

28%

Business growth or expansion (international)

33%

33%

42%

24%

Systems upgrades

29%

56%

17%

32%

Moving to cloud based infrastructure

26%

44%

25%

20%

IT risk & security

7%

0%

0%

16%

 

Ms Tang said new positions were being created as companies pursue new agendas to drive growth.

“Newly created positions are exciting roles for anyone seeking to make a name for themselves. The employee is not constrained by past ways of doing things so it is an opportunity for an ambitious person to get recognition for their achievements.”

“But professionals should be warned that if you get the job by promising the world and then fail to deliver, the company may quickly go back to the employment market to find a replacement,” Ms Tang said.

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Gabrielle Nagy 
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