Skills shortage is the top factor impacting Singapore’s financial services sector in 2017

The growing shortage of suitably skilled professionals is the most significant challenge facing Singapore’s financial services sector in 2017.

  • 40% of Singaporean CFOs say a skills shortage is the biggest issue impacting the city-state’s financial services landscape in 2017.
  • 34% say Big Data analytics and technology-driven activities will be the key drivers shaping financial services this year.

The growing shortage of suitably skilled professionals is the most significant challenge facing Singapore’s financial services sector in 2017, according to independent research commissioned by specialised recruitment company Robert Half. 

Two out of five (40%) Singaporean Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) say the current skills shortage is the top factor which will impact the financial services sector this year, highlighting the need for companies to proactively address their hiring needs.

In addition to the skills shortage, 2017 will also be shaped by Big Data and compliance pressures. More than one in three (34%) CFOs respectively point to both Big Data analytics and technology-driven activities as having the greatest impact shaping the financial services sector in 2017 and more than one in four (28%) identify compliance pressures.

Other top factors for 2017 cited in the survey include innovation (26%), managing customer expectations (25%) and generational shifts (25%). 

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director at Robert Half Singapore said: “Singapore’s financial services sector has been impacted by the skills shortage for some time, and business leaders clearly expect the “war for talent” to continue in 2017. While the impact of new technology is viewed as an additional challenge for the sector this year, it is closely tied to the skills shortage. Without suitably skilled professionals, companies cannot leverage the full value of emerging technologies such as Big Data.”

“As Singaporean financial services companies endeavour to become more innovative by adopting new technologies, the challenges from the skills gap will inevitably be felt. Businesses need professionals with adequate tech-based skillsets to be able to fully address key factors like Big Data analytics and innovative business practices,” Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard added.

“Singapore’s competitive labour market makes it critical for employers to take proactive steps to attract and retain quality finance professionals. An efficient hiring process can be instrumental to securing high calibre candidates.” 

“Companies can also take several additional steps to mitigate the impact of the skills shortage including investing in employee training. This not only upskills current finance teams, it can also underpin high retention levels. Hiring contract and interim managers during peak periods or for special projects is a highly cost effective strategy that injects fresh ideas into a company, and prevents burdening employees with unrealistic workloads, which can negatively impact staff morale,” concluded Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard.

Singaporean CFOs were asked: “In your opinion, what are the top three factors that will shape the financial services landscape in 2017?”

Skills shortage 40%
Big Data analytics 34%

Technology-driven activities

34%
Regular compliance pressures 28%
Innovation  26%
Managing customer expectations 25%
Generational shifts 25%
Cost management 24%
Cyber-risk 23%
Risk management 16%
Nearshoring 11%
Offshoring 11%
Business restructuring 3%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 Singaporean CFOs – three answers per respondent.

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About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in January 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 100 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Finance Directors in Singapore. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.

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Gabrielle Nagy 
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