Taking a look back at 2023 in the Risk & Analytics hiring trends of Singapore and Hong Kong, it was a year of ups and downs. From a lively job market to subtle changes in hiring strategies, the year brought its fair share of challenges and opportunities. This update dives into the noteworthy trends, regulatory shifts, and overall market dynamics that influenced employment in these vital financial hubs.
In the ever-evolving landscape of Singapore’s financial sector, the 1st Quarter of 2023 maintained the momentum of a robust recruitment market from the preceding year. Nevertheless, as the year progressed into Q3 and Q4, a noticeable shift towards a more conservative hiring approach took hold among banks. Simultaneously, consultancies commenced the year with hiring freezes, adopting a cautiously selective stance throughout the year, predominantly backfilling crucial roles and refraining from endorsing new market approvals.
Recruitment trends in both Singapore and Hong Kong revealed a rise in Counterparty Credit Risk, Valuations, and Quant hiring. Candidate salary expectations remained inflated, with expectations ranging from 20% to 30%. However, organisations across sectors, including Banking, Asset Management, Exchanges, Service providers, and consultancies, pushed back on these salary demands, resisting increases beyond 20%. The average time to hire in 2023 increased from 6 weeks to an average of 8 weeks.
The implementation of the new compass framework in September 2023 introduced an intriguing element regarding potential effects on candidate movement in 2024. The global rise in interest rates had a more pronounced impact on hiring than anticipated, prompting candidates to adopt a more cautious stance, favouring roles perceived as advantageous and displaying a reduced risk appetite. Another significant challenge surfaced as organisations began relocating positions to more cost-effective or lenient hiring locations, contributing to a larger regional candidate pool.
However, Singapore’s stringent rules on hiring foreign talent mitigated the effects compared to other countries. Despite this, many clients in Singapore embraced a pessimistic outlook on the global market, leading to efforts to maximise productivity from the existing workforce rather than consistently backfilling roles. Notably, 2023 marked the first year since 2019 with widespread layoffs across various sectors.
The Basel III Implementation was a focal point, with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) expecting continued adherence to Basel III requirements. Several jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, China Mainland, and Hong Kong SAR, released revised capital rules in alignment with the Basel III reform package, targeting compliance between 2023 and 2025.
Addressing climate change and transitioning to a sustainable, low-carbon economy were key priorities for regulators across the Asia Pacific region, including Singapore. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) specifically emphasised managing climate risk and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.
In the domain of Risk and Regulatory Technology (RegTech), there was an anticipation for increased investment by banks, covering areas from KYC to risk management and regulatory reporting. This was seen as a strategic response to enhanced regulatory requirements, aiming to maintain a competitive edge.
In 2023, Hong Kong’s market macro-outlook presented a mixed picture. The Mergers & Acquisitions space saw limited activity, accompanied by a notable outflow of expatriates. Salaries across the board remained stable. In the consultancy sector, a noticeable quietude prevailed, with some clients streamlining costs by removing their benches.
The Hong Kong government facilitated the hiring of foreign talent by introducing special concessions and altering the regulatory landscape. The global economic slowdown directly impacted expected attrition, with candidates displaying heightened caution and a preference for job security over career moves. This has influenced recruitment trends in Hong Kong, where clients have become more open to multi-location staffing.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) played a pivotal role in shaping the market dynamics. In response to emerging challenges, the HKMA introduced new regulations and updates in 2023, focusing on various aspects of risk management. A significant emphasis was placed on operational resilience and climate risks. The HKMA issued a new Supervisory Policy Manual (SPM) module, OR-2, requiring banks to develop an operational resilience plan. This plan encompasses identifying resilience parameters, mapping interdependencies, and establishing timelines for achieving operational resilience.
Additionally, the HKMA set out a two-year plan to integrate climate risk into the supervisory processes for banking. The prepared a more prescriptive approach for conducting a second climate stress test in 2023 and 2024. Simultaneously, data security and personal information protection gained prominence with the issuance of regulations like the Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law. Banks and insurance institutions were expected to classify and grade their data, implementing protective measures to ensure lawful and reasonable data utilisation.
Despite challenges, clients in Hong Kong remained optimistic about the regional outlook, emphasising the enduring strength of the city’s intellectual capital. Clients embraced the concept of multi-location staffing, with Singapore and Hong Kong maintaining their status as key bases for certain candidates. Hong Kong retained its status as the leading Global Markets city in Asia Pacific, boasting the region’s top-tier talent.
As we move into 2024, Singapore and Hong Kong’s financial scenes continue to evolve, offering both hurdles and possibilities for those in search of top talent. If you’re looking to hire and want to make sense of the insights we’ve shared, please get in touch with Adnan Maddix, our expert in Risk & Analytics recruitment in the Asia Pacific region. With a keen awareness of market trends and a solid professional network, Adnan is ready to assist you in navigating the complexities of hiring. Reach out today for a personalized approach to meet your hiring needs and set yourself up for success. Your next great hire might be just a conversation away.
Managing Director, Danos Group
Head of Asia Pacific