Singapore among the world's most active hiring markets for accounting and finance professionals

11 March 2014

45% of CFOs plan to hire – with small and medium-sized companies leading the way Robert Half 2014 Asia Salary Guide reveals hot jobs in finance, accounting, banking and IT.

[Singapore], March 11, 2014: The hiring scene for finance and accounting staff in Singapore will be among the most active anywhere in the world during the next six months.

According to research released by Robert Half Singapore during the launch of its 2014 Asia Salary Guide, 45 per cent of companies will hire more finance and accounting professionals in the first half of 2014. The research is based on a poll of 2,350 Global CFOs, including 150 from Singapore.

Singapore is the fourth most active hiring market in the world for accounting and finance professionals, behind China (69 per cent), Brazil (63 per cent) and Hong Kong (48 per cent). Across all the countries surveyed, an average of 38 per cent of companies plan to add new employees, indicating hiring activity in Singapore will be significantly more robust than the rest of the world.

In addition to adding new finance and accounting staff, 53 per cent of Singapore CFOs will be in the employment market to replace staff as and when they leave. Only two per cent of companies are planning to freeze their headcount.

Singapore is one of only three countries where there wasn't a single company surveyed that indicated they planned to reduce staff – together with the UAE and Hong Kong. In other words, no company has plans to reduce their accounting and finance headcount in the first six months of 2014.

Table1: Most Active Hiring markets for Accounting and Finance Professionals




% of companies adding permanent finance & accounting employees


% of companies adding permanent finance & accounting employees









Hong Kong














New Zealand










The UK








According to Ms Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees will be the most active hirers in the employment market in 2014.

"Small companies are becoming more active in the recruitment market for accounting and finance professionals. Robert Half's survey shows 48 per cent of small companies and 46 per cent of medium-sized companies plan to hire, compared to 31 per cent of large firms."

"Like the large corporations, many small to mid-sized firms are confident about their prospects this year and are comfortable increasing their employee numbers. Demand is also being driven by higher standards of corporate governance, resulting in a need for more professionals with internal audit, tax and regulatory skills."

"The industries where the new finance and accounting jobs will be created include fast moving consumer goods, energy, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and real estate," Ms Tang said.

Dr Ernest Kan, President of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), said, “There has always been strong demand for accounting professionals as accountants play a crucial role in every business across diverse industries. This is especially so in Singapore, a global business and financial centre."

"Attesting to the growing demand for accountants, ISCA has witnessed consecutive growth in our membership base over the years, which attests to the robust demand for accountants. This demand will only increase with Singapore’s development into a global accountancy hub.”

“To enhance their employability, having a recognised professional designation is key for accountants, as employers are looking for qualified professionals with the right credentials. In the rapidly changing business landscape, accounting professionals must continuously keep up with new skills and new knowledge,” Dr Kan said.

Table 2: Hiring intentions by company size and business type.


Business size









(1 to 500 employees


(501 to 999 employees)


(1000 employees)






Expanding – Adding new positions





Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions





Freezing – Not filling vacating positions and not creating new ones





Reducing headcount







Robert Half's Asia Salary Guide is based on actual placements and insights from Robert Half’s senior managers as well as a survey of Chief Financial officers (CFOs), Finance Directors and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in Singapore.

The Guide covers three sectors of employment:

Finance and Accounting

SCOPE: Covering accountants, finance, credit, tax, and treasury experts working in a range of industry sectors.

OUTLOOK: The first half of 2014 will be a busy period for finance and accounting professionals with a remarkable 96 per cent of CFOs expecting their companies to experience growth in the year ahead. This confidence is fuelling hiring activity with 45 per cent planning to grow their finance and accounting teams over the six months to June 2014.

The market remains robust as companies continue to make both new and replacement hires. Internal audit, tax, risk and compliance professionals are in high demand. The most popular and sought after qualifications include CA, CPA, ACCA and other recognised accounting degrees.

In a bid to attract and retain quality talent, 55% of CFOs anticipate increasing the salaries for their finance and accounting professionals this year. Close to one in four (37%) businesses will increase bonuses in 2014.

HOT JOBS (Finance and Accounting):

  • Internal Audit: Top Salaries – up to $110,000 for auditors, up to $200,000 for managers, and up to $290,000 for director level positions in large firms. Year-on-year increase of up to 9%. A greater focus on corporate governance has seen many companies strengthening their internal controls and oversight functions, resulting in increased demand for auditors.
  • Tax: Top Salaries – up to $100,000 for an analyst, up to $225,000 for a manager, and up to $360,000 for a director. Year-on-year increase of up to 9%. While most mid range accounting professionals will be happy with a 3 or 4 per cent incremental increase, tax specialists can expect to do much better with increases of 7 per cent or more. Tax professionals need to have a total command of the tax systems in multiple jurisdictions.

Banking and Financial Services

SCOPE: Covering roles in banks, insurance and financial institutions, including risk, compliance, finance and accounting, and operations.

OUTLOOK: Nine out of ten (90 per cent) of financial services leaders are confident their company will grow this year and 43 per cent of them plan to expand their team in the first half of 2014.

New regulatory requirements continue to bolster demand for risk and compliance professionals, while demand remains robust for candidates with a proven track record in financial control, internal audit, project finance and commodity trade finance.

The challenge for today’s financial services leaders in Singapore remains to attract and retain top talent. Faced with a tight labour market, 91 per cent of senior financial services leaders are concerned about losing top talent.

Almost one in two (49%) firms will increase salaries for finance professionals in 2014. Over one third (37%) of firms will increase bonuses this year.

Hiring activity for financial services professionals in 2014 is expected to be strong in the insurance, corporate banking and private banking sectors.

HOT JOBS (Banking and Financial Services):

Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering: Top Salaries – up to $75,000 for analyst positions, up to $155,000 for Managers, up to $240,000 for a VP. Senior Vice Presidents or Managing Directors can command salaries of between $220,000 and $500,000. Year-on-year increases of up to 19 per cent.

Banks and financial institutions have felt the brunt of the increase in regulation after the global financial crisis. As a result, senior risk executives can command top dollar and are enjoying double digit increases in pay. The big winners are the analysts, which are seeing salary increases of up to 19%.

Companies are keen to attract talented people into compliance roles early in their careers in order to groom them for more senior roles.


SCOPE: Covering roles like application managers, IT architects, IT directors, chief information officers, helpdesk managers, network engineers, programme managers and security analysts.

OUTLOOK: The vast majority (93 per cent) of CIOs in Singapore are confident of their company’s growth prospects in the next 12 months, and this will create a firm foundation for increased hiring activity.

Demand is particularly robust at present for project and programme managers, business analysts, and for candidates with experience in infrastructure, IT risk and security, and IT architecture.

One in two (50 per cent) CIOs expect to increase salaries for their IT teams and around one in three (32 per cent) plan to increase bonuses.

Strong demand is anticipated for IT professionals across insurance, private banking, wealth management, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, commodities and IT services companies, and solution providers. Candidates with good communication skills, regional project exposure and specific domain knowledge will have an advantage.

HOT JOBS (Technology):

  • IT Directors/CIOs: Top Salaries – up to $320,000. Year-on-year increase of up to 10 per cent. Technology is now seen as in integral part of a business, helping to drive growth and efficiencies. CEOs and Boards expect their IT leaders to contribute to the business on many levels, from improving productivity through to delivering a safe and reliable system.
  • IT Architects: Top Salaries – up to $220,000. Year-on-year increase of up to 10 per cent. As companies struggle with new trends such as cloud computing, social media and work force mobility, CIOs are keen to find people who can make different types of technology work together. Unlike many IT professionals, IT architects are not niche specialists – they are able to see the big picture, integrating technology across many business functions within the company.


Contact us


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

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