As regulatory bodies around the world look to protect consumers from evermore invasive and present dangers, financial organisations are turning to their audit, risk and compliance departments to ensure that they both maintain customer security and avoid facing punitive measures.
In Singapore, this means – as banks’ first, second and third lines of defence functions attempt to maintain agility in this ever-changing environment – that there are several sectors of growth in the market. The heightening of regulatory-driven topics around reforms, cyber-security and cryptocurrencies means that areas such as technology and data analytics are of developing concern.
However, while the growth in these markets continues at an exponential rate, companies are struggling to find candidates to fill roles which is leading to far-reaching problems, with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s delay in following the Basel III regulations a standout example. While MAS maintains that the intention here is to simply observe how other nations may be affected by these global regulations, herein lies a tacit admission that Singapore may be ill-prepared to implement them.
With these points key, to ensure that Singapore’s banking industry is able to function at full capability, positions must be filled in the following areas:
• Technology audit
• Technology risk
• Technology compliance
• Data analytics
As these areas continue to be candidate short following the initial boom in regulatory functions 24 months ago, companies are looking outside of traditional sectors and are instead seeking out candidates who have been utilising similar skills in other specialisms.
“There is great interest in candidates with anti-money laundering experience in the current market,” says Lynne Roeder, Managing Director at Hays Singapore. “Candidates from technology backgrounds within data analytics are also highly thought of.” “Though they may lack recent audit compliance backgrounds, this is no longer an impediment as companies try to locate candidates with a good combination of transferrable skills and potential, and then sponsoring qualifications in order to get them up to speed.”
With competition for candidates so fierce, companies are putting greater resources into candidate retention. This predominantly takes the form of improved salaries, but employees are also being offered temporary assignments in the increasingly popular areas of auditing, risk & compliance.
“Companies are seeing value in people from other areas of financial services who may understand the products, those who may be able to spot risk thanks to their time in the industry,” Lynne explains. “These employees are being given six month secondments in compliance functions, which not only increases the knowledge base throughout the organisation, but also expands the candidate pool, with some choosing to make their secondments permanent.”
As Singapore’s financial industry continues to change and the regulatory landscape develops, companies are expanding their outlook and looking to the future. “In the past, regulatory-related areas have been very much the domain of the experienced, but we are starting to see our clients setting their sights on youth.” “Of course, attending recruitment fairs is nothing new for financial institutions, but now they are doing so with auditing, risk & compliance in mind, with some offering internships in the coming year. It is an area of growing popularity, and thanks to its increasingly integral function for financial organisations, it is also a stable one for candidates in the future.”
An overview of what other trends have been observed in Singapore’s audit, risk & compliance sector can be viewed below.
• With cryptocurrencies still a nascent conversation in Singapore, there continues to be some confusion as to how they are likely to be regulated. Though MAS’ Ravi Menon has stated that they do not necessarily pose a risk that warrants regulation, others in the industry may not agree.
• Due to the Ministry of Manpower’s efforts to promote the Singaporean workforce, expatriate hires are unlikely to be made aside from the most senior roles.
• One exception to this is roles that focus on globally implemented regulations where candidates with the necessary knowledge and skillsets can only be sourced outside of Singapore. For these positions, candidates can expect packages at local market value with perhaps some assistance in accommodation and flights.
• For candidates in auditing roles, there has been an increase in flexible working practices over the last 12 months with some employers open to work-from-home options.
• With compliance functions becoming some of the most popular positions in Asia’s financial industry, candidates are finding that auditing roles can be a platform for a career change into compliance.