The current mood in Singapore’s finance job market is considered cautious and prudent as firms are wary about a continued slowdown of the global and regional economy which will further impact on Singapore’s economy. The current slower hiring trend is expected to continue to 2H of 2016. There were also fewer vacancies than normal being made available in the traditionally busy post-bonus hiring season from February to April this year due to the current downturn. Key trends for the finance job market in Singapore for 3Q 2016:
We still see retrenchment and restructuring exercises taking place across industries (apart from the oil and gas sector). There are several companies who have made the decision to downsize or offshore the finance/accounting functions to lower cost locations outside of Singapore (e.g. Malaysia,Philippins, India etc). We also saw some mergers/consolidation of businesses, which led to further duplication and redundancies of roles.
Given the uncertain economic climate, companies who need resources are turning to offering contract positions (versus perm roles) so that they have the benefit of added flexibility to decide at the completion of the contractor’s assignment on whether they like to extend the employment contract further. The contract period can be 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or more. We also see some candidates being more receptive to contract roles in light of the challenging economic situation and the trend of the growing contracting job market.
Given the slowdown in the job economy, fresh graduates are now experiencing a longer job search process which can take at least 6 months or more especially if they graduated with a normal (non-honours) degree with no specialisation. Some fresh graduates have turned to accepting temporary jobs or contract roles in the meantime, while searching for their ideal permanent role.
For companies who are still hiring senior employees, they are taking the opportunity of the higher supply of high calibre senior finance professionals (affected by retrenchment/ restructuring) available in the market and are evaluating and looking for close to a 100% perfect fit before finalising the decision to hire an external candidate. This will mean looking for candidates who are very likely to come from the same industry or have the specialised skills the role requires, so that the candidate can contribute almost immediately from Day 1 of his/ her employment. With this cautious hiring approach, it also means that recruitment cycles are getting longer if the role is not urgent.
Not all is doom and gloom! There is still selected hiring taking place and some hot finance jobs available in the banking financial institution sector include compliance and audit function, especially given the strict regulatory environment set by the Singapore government and MAS necessitates the demand for such talents.
We expect a growing number of investment bankers and some private equity professionals to move to in-house corporate finance, M&A and fund-raising roles outside of the banking industry. This is because investment banking candidates affected by the highly volatile world of investment banking are now more open to in house roles with corporates that can offer a more stable and longer term career.