10 things you need to know about banking salaries and bonuses in Singapore

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10 things you need to know about banking salaries and bonuses in Singapore

Pay growth in some sectors

It’s the second half of the year – typically a period when banks' budgets dry up until bonuses are paid. If you’re negotiating pay for a new banking job in Singapore, you need to know what you’re up against in the current climate.

To give you a hand, we’ve asked recruiters to identify some of the key compensation trends they’re seeing in the Singapore banking sector.

1. The bonus pool is shrinking

“There's downward pressure on the bonus pool for 2016 given the headwinds in the global economy, although this should be partially offset by larger than average headcount trimming in the first quarter,” says Adam Jeffes, associate director of financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley.

2. And getting more spread-out

“And given these revenue challenges, I expect the bonus spread between strong and average performers to widen, as it did to some extent the previous year,” adds Jeffes.

3. Local banks are becoming more generous in the middle-office

As we noted last month, Singaporean banks are trying to entice risk and compliance candidates not just by offering better job stability than global firms – but by paying better bonuses. This year DBS, OCBC and UOB paid their top-performing governance staff bonuses of up to four months’ salary – higher than the typical one-month payment on offer at foreign firms.

4. Don’t expect a high rise

Unless you’re working in a particularly sought-after function (see below) salary increases for Singapore candidates moving banks are usually no more than 6%, says Tim Klimcke, director of financial services and banking at recruiters Robert Walters in Singapore. This is not a good time to negotiate too hard on your base pay.

5. Financial crime pays

“Job seekers in financial crime in Singapore remain in demand and can expect up to a 25% increase in base salary when they move,” says Adam Solomons, Asia associate director at recruiters Hydrogen Group. “Candidates are hard to find, so banks know they need to dig deep to attract them, often from outside of the region.”

6. Project management doesn’t

“During the past few years banks in Singapore have strengthened their technology and business-change project teams to the point where there is a plentiful supply,” says Solomons. “As a result, project managers at a mid to senior level will find it hard to get higher than a 10% increase. We’ve had a number of examples of banks only matching current salaries for PMs, but with the promise of a higher target bonus.”

7. New demand in regulatory reporting

It may not be the most exciting job in Singapore financial services, but candidates for regulatory reporting roles can easily land double-digit pay rises. “These candidates are now in demand as a result of new regulation updates from the MAS scheduled for 2017, for which banks are gearing up to ensure compliance,” says Holly Hatton, manager of financial services at recruiters Michael Page in Singapore.

8. Big data salaries

“Data analytics is becoming more prevalent within Singapore financial institutions,” says Gerard Milligan, Asia Pacific client solutions director at recruitment agency Phaidon International in Singapore. “As demand rises for experienced data scientists so do salaries and bonuses – often we’re seeing people being hired into banks or fund managers at 20% pay increments.”

9. It’s flat out back

Offshoring to lower cost Asian markets has created “vast availability of candidates” and “stagnating salaries” in settlements roles, says Lim Chaileng, director of banking, finance and accounting at recruitment firm Randstad in Singapore.

10. Fintech steps up

It’s still on a small scale, but as we reported earlier this year, fintech firms are hiring more banking professionals in Singapore. While they can’t match the banks on salaries alone, they are staring to offer more enticing “combinations of base pay and equity in order to attract strong talent”, says Hatton.

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