Singapore or India: where will your banking technology job end up?

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If you work in banking technology in Singapore you increasingly need to be aware of which IT functions have a long-term future in the city state. Banks continue to create new tech roles in Singapore, but for some jobs they’re also hiring in lower-cost Asian markets, particularly India.

DBS is a case in point. The firm is expanding its main technology ‘hub’ in Singapore’s Changi Business Park while at the same time recruiting 1,500 additional people over the next two years for a new hub in Hyderabad.

DBS has not yet responded to a request on what roles it’s recruiting for in Singapore and India. However, across the banking sector there are marked differences in the type of IT banking positions which are in demand in the two countries.

Banking technology jobs in Singapore

“The vast majority of IT banking positions that directly support the front office are most likely to remain in Singapore,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director at recruitment firm Hays in Singapore. “These range from trading development roles in languages like Core Java, C++ and C#, to project-delivery positions such as project managers and business analysts, where the Asian talent pool is strongest in Singapore and Hong Kong.”

Long-term career success in Singapore requires having a “blend of IT and business knowledge”, says Sam Randall, manager of financial services technology at recruiters Robert Walters in Singapore. In-demand jobs include, “programmers working on front-office or key-process projects, such as compliance and security projects, and customer-facing and relationship-management systems”.

DBS isn’t the only firm hiring in technology in Singapore. J.P. Morgan is building its IT ‘corporate centre’ in the city state to support the front-office and to tap “quality professionals and local graduates”, Sophia Leung, the firm’s chief information officer for Asia, told us earlier this year.

Standard Chartered is recruiting 300 people this year to support its corporate and institutional banking (CIB) division. “In order to realise the gains from headcount investment quickly, adding people to the existing teams in Singapore – close to the businesses they support – is the right strategy,” says Michael Dargan, CIO of the CIB unit.

Banking technology jobs in India

The further your Singapore IT job is from the front-office, the more likely it will eventually be relocated to India or another lower-cost market.

“Roles more likely to be offshored are often those that support the back office or business-as-usual operations of the bank, including applications development, coding, testing and infrastructure support,” says Roeder from Hays.

Banks tend to base tech jobs in India “where the skill set is more focused on a smaller part of the overall project and where business knowledge is not essential”, says Randall from Robert Walters. “Support functions for lower priority applications and processes are often offshored too. If roles are lower skilled, they can typically be performed effectively in remote locations.”

Alongside DBS, Morgan Stanley is also hiring in India. It employs some 2,400 tech staff in Mumbai and last year opened a new IT hub in Bangalore which could eventually host 1,400 employees.

Goldman Sachs’ Bangalore operations centre, its second largest office outside New York, employs more than 5,000 people, with technology the largest job sector. Citibank, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered also base tech staff in India.

“Having IT jobs in India means cheaper costs and access to a young English-speaking workforce that is full of engineers,” says Vince Natteri, managing director at recruiters Pinpoint Asia. “The cons are that India is now getting more expensive and banks have to put in increased effort to ensure quality.”

VP-level IT engineers at global banks in India earn about $60k to $80k, while their counterparts in Singapore and Hong Kong take home about $150k on average, says Natteri.

Image credit: Marcio Silva, iStock, Thinkstock

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