Talent trends in the banking & financial services sector in Malaysia are increasingly being shaped by pressure on traditional banks to invest in new technologies, as well as attempts to fend off the competition now being faced by fintech firms. Digitalisation is providing more flexible options for banking consumers in Malaysia who are more than willing to move providers to secure a better deal.
The number of products and services that have moved online in just the last six months to a year is impressive and this is impacting every aspect of the banking & financial services sector from product development to contact centres to compliance departments. Where once banks would monitor performance from a branch perspective, now everything must include the digital perspective and customer analytics. Overall, market analysts predict a strong financial year for banks in Malaysia in line with a more buoyant economic outlook for the country after a lacklustre 2016.
In July 2017, Deputy Finance Minister Othman Aziz urged the 200 bankers gathered at the Bank Tech Asia conference to do even more to compete with the fintech firms looking to unbundle financial services, so they can target niche areas and lure away banking customers. We are already seeing a number of joint ventures taking place between banks and fintech firms. There is an abundance of much-needed technical expertise on the market in Malaysia, but these ventures require candidates to have additional strengths to help embed the JVs. For example, senior cyber security managers must not only be across security trends but must also be confident, vocal and persuasive when negotiating with internal and external stakeholders and steering committees.
Competition for candidates with this rare combination of skills is fierce. Experienced talents are using their power to negotiate the ‘next best offer’ every couple of years, or to extract an attractive counter offer to stay with their existing employer. Some banks are creating internal tech teams that include big data, user interface and analytics experts or even investing in fintech start ups. Network systems project managers and infrastructure applications managers are also in demand.
Meanwhile, greater regulation and guidelines from Bank Negara Malaysia has driven up hiring levels of regulatory compliance professionals and roles focused on financial crime protection such as anti-money laundering and investigations at all levels from juniors right up to head of department roles. This applies to banks but also insurance firms with employers vying for the same candidates. The regulatory changes are creating new and more defined functions across the entire banking and financial services sector with audit, risk and compliance hiring growing tremendously.
Another trend we are seeing is decentralised responsibilities for recruitment. Group recruiting was once the preferred approach when banks wanted to fill new roles. Instead, we are now seeing recruitment campaigns created specifically for each area of banking such as retail, corporate, commercial, investment and Islamic transactions.
Actuaries well versed in market and financial risk are also a target for banking and insurance employers. Relationship managers for retail and business banking are now firmly back in the hiring spot light. Demand exists at both ends of the experience scale with jobs coming to market suited to those with three years experience, but also suitable for 15 year veterans and much in between.
However, employers are being challenged by the fact that commission structures for roles are often not clearly defined, making candidates wary of committing to a job offer. We are seeing banks on the retail side opening new branches and sales channels so banking relationship managers have a choice of jobs and are becoming sensitive to any difference in an offer from one employer to the next.