Banks Hiring More In Singapore

Banks Hiring More In Singapore Compared To Hong Kong

SINGAPORE – The city-state’s office property market is expected to benefit from the trend, in which multinational financial firms ramp up hiring in Singapore as they transfer key roles there from Hong Kong due to fears over China’s national security law.

The Financial Times reported on Monday morning (21 December, SGT) that global financial companies plan to hire up to eight times as many workers here compared to the Chinese territory. But the staff reduction is described as low-key so as not to run afoul of the communist government.

A December study of LinkedIn data carried out by the news agency showed that job advertisements by JPMorgan and UBS in the city-state surpassed those in the Chinese territory by 8 times, while those by Citibank, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs are greater by 2-fold.

One investment bank executive told the Financial Times that there is an ongoing low-profile effort to add more roles in Singapore, where investment companies traditionally had a lower manpower. “It is prudent to spread the risk given the geopolitical situation.”

Still, Citigroup said Singapore and Hong Kong are vital regional hubs with a different mix of businesses being transacted at its offices in both locations. Thus, it continues to “hire in key areas to support our clients in both markets”. The other mentioned financial firms refused to comment.

The hiring disparity mirrors the broader strategies of multinational financial firms, which have been increasing their headcount in the city-state even before the widespread protests in Hong Kong last year. However, the trend fits with the extensive reorientation towards Singapore described by recruiting agencies.

For instance, Hudson and Michael Page revealed that 15 to 20 percent of their business for 2020 involved assisting financial firms relocate jobs from Hong Kong to Singapore.

“We have placed a fair amount of private bankers in Singapore this year from Hong Kong, as well as lots of security and compliance roles,” said TY Shao, a Singapore-based Manager at Hudson, an agency focusing on recruitment for finance and technology firms.

Gavin Teo, a Singapore-based associate director at Michael Page, commented that “Hong Kong-based firms [are looking] to diversify their risk and bring some of their operations to Singapore.” He added that if there’s a headcount in Asia Pacific, they will most likely place it in the city-state.

Furthermore, Knight Frank’s associate executive sales director Ella Sherman, who’s involved in the housing market, shared that she recently worked for a chief executive of a Hong Kong finance firm.

“[The chief executive] said China’s handling of Hong Kong has resulted in their decision to relocate their headquarters here,” she revealed, adding that many of her customers don’t want to speak publicly as many were undertaking a “subtle shift”.

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