New regulations see jump in risk and compliance demand

05 March 2013


Robert Half 2013 Salary Guides reveal the hot jobs in finance, accounting and banking

[Singapore], March 5, 2013:  An explosion in new regulations is causing unprecedented demand for compliance experts, according to the 2013 Robert Half Salary Guides for Singapore. While the salaries of some roles have remained static, credit risk, compliance and risk management professionals can command healthy increases in their salary levels this year.

Robert Half Salary Guides are the industry’s leading research into the employment prospects of the hundreds of thousands of finance and accounting professionals, as well as and banking and financial services professionals working in Singapore. The Guides are based on actual placements and insights from Robert Half’s recruiting managers as well as a survey of 300 CFOs and Finance Directors in Singapore.  

The first guide is for professionals working in the Commerce & Industry/Commercial sector covering accountants, finance, credit, tax, and treasury experts working in a range of industry sectors. This Guide is released in partnership with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS).

The second Guide is for the Banking & Financial Services sector, covering roles in banks, insurance and financial institutions, including risk, compliance, finance and accounting, operations and technology.


Regulatory change remains top of mind for the CFOs and Finance Directors in all industries as companies struggle to generate profits while complying with regulations on anti-money laundering, privacy, Solvency II, Basel III, FATCA and corporate governance.  

According to Ms Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, the surge in new regulations is driving a boom in demand for risk, regulatory and compliance professionals. “In the last 12 months, we have seen a 50 per cent growth in demand for risk and compliance professionals in the financial services industry, and an 80 per cent rise in demand from companies in commerce and industry.”

“The level of demand for risk and compliance specialists is unprecedented and directly mirrors the explosion in new regulations. Companies are battling to recruit professionals with the right skills in order to keep ahead of the changes,” Ms Tang said.

Dr Ernest Kan, President of ICPAS, said finance and accounting professionals need to keep their skills current if they want to stay up to date with the changes. “The increasing demand for risk and compliance professionals creates an opportunity for many finance professionals. They can begin to specialise in the compliance discipline by seeking out additional responsibility at work and by pursuing additional professional education,” Dr Kan said.

Table 1: Risk and compliance salaries on the rise

  Salary Range S$ YoY increase
Risk Management
(Banking and Financial Services)
  • Analyst
36,000-85,000 4%
  • Associate / Manager /AVP
80,000-150,000 7%
  • VP
140,000-220,000 3%
Compliance/anti-money laundering
(Banking and Financial Services)
  • Analyst
40,000-100,000 8%
  • VP
150,000-250,000 8%
Risk Management
(Commercial Industry)
  • Manager (SME)
85,000-100,000 8%
  • Manager (Large firm)
110,000-160,000 8%


Other roles which are in demand and showing significant salary increases, are:

Commercial Industry:

Senior/Accountants at large firms:  Salary range - $52,000 to $88,000. Year-on-year increase - 5 to 9%. 

As companies become more confident about their growth prospects, they are hiring more accountants with general skills.

Accounts Payable/Receivable Specialists:  Salary range - $45,000 to $105,000. Year-on-year increase - 6 to 11%. 

Companies have become more conscious of their cash-flow and are hiring more people to manage when they pay and get paid.

Financial Planning & Analysis / Business Analysis Professionals:  Salary range - $40,000 to $140,000. Year-on-year increase - 7 to 9%. 

Professionals who can provide good analysis can be the catalyst for change that increases business efficiency and productivity.

Treasury Professionals:  Salary range - $65,000 to $270,000. Year-on-year increase – 5 to 8%. 

One of the more critical and prestigious role in the finance profession, senior treasury officials are highly sought after by large firms.

Banking and Financial Services:

Mid- to senior level roles in Credit Risk:  Salary range - $140,000 to $220,000 . Year on year increase - 7 to 10%.  

Credit risk professionals, like compliance risk, is a speciality that banks and financial services must have, so good professionals can command top dollar for their services.

Mid to senior level Investment Advisory/Research Analysts:  Salary range - $80,000 to $220,000 . Year-on-year increase - 6 to 10%. 

Making good investment decisions requires talented analysts. Those with a strong track record of performance command a premium.

Financial Control Professionals: Salary range - $50,000 to $75,000. Year-on-year increase - 2 to 9%. 

Banks are very cost conscious today, and demand for staff in financial control roles is strong.


According to the research, 38 per cent of commercial companies plan to hire additional permanent finance and accounting staff in the first half of 2013, while only 5 per cent plan to reduce staff.

Table 2 - Hiring intentions (Commerce & Industry / Commercial)

Expanding - Adding new positions 38%
Maintaining - Only filling vacated positions 50%
Freezing - Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones 7%
Reducing - Eliminating positions 5%

“The survey found 53 per cent of firms intending to increase salaries this year. If employees get a pay rise, they should expect it to be up to 5 per cent. However, this can increase to 10 per cent if they switch to another company,” Ms Tang said.   

Finance and accounting professionals working in commercial industries can expect only modest improvements in their bonuses, if they receive any improvement at all. Only 33 per cent intend to increase bonuses; 41 per cent will maintain current bonuses; 9 per cent intend to pay less; and 17 per cent will not pay any bonus this year.

Ms Tang said that while demand for finance and accounting professionals remains strong, there are pockets of the economy where hiring activity is greatest.

“Energy, ICT, FMCG, real estate and pharmaceutical are some sectors where demand is very robust, reflecting the level of economic activity companies are enjoying,” Ms Tang said.


According to the survey, 41 per cent of companies are planning to hire additional permanent banking and financial services staff in the first half of 2013, while another 5 per cent are planning to eliminate positions.

Table 3 - Hiring intentions (Banking and Financial Services)

Expanding - Adding new positions 41%
Maintaining - Only filling vacated positions 45%
Freezing - Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones 9%
Reducing - Eliminating positions 5%

A majority of firms (51 per cent) intend to increase salaries this year.  Ms Tang said the rate of increase will be similar to other industries. “Professionals in banking and financial services can expect pay rises of up to 5 per cent and up to 10 per cent when switching jobs,” she explained.

“Bonuses are not expected to rise greatly with only 37 per cent planning increases; 45 per cent keeping bonuses static; 10 per cent paying reduced bonuses; and 7 per cent not paying any bonuses at all.”

Ms Tang said that in 2013 the growing Asian banks are expected to be the most active in the job market.

“The internal controls on new hires have become more stringent in Singapore, so the hiring process has become longer. As a result, many employers find they lose candidates to competitors who are able to make an offer more quickly,” Ms Tang concluded.

“Economic indicators are signalling that this is the Asian Century. Singapore, with its strategic location, is seen as the gateway to the booming Asian economies. Accounting and finance professionals in Singapore should keep abreast of changes in the regulatory landscape in order to reap the full benefits of this megatrend. Healthy demand for professionals with accounting skills can be evinced from ICPAS’ membership, which continues to grow steadily every year,” said Dr Kan. 

For more information on the most current remuneration data for finance, accounting and banking professionals in Singapore, the Robert Half 2013 Salary Guides are now available.


Contact us


Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
E: [email protected]

Share This Page