Fintech push leads to pay surge for some fresh grads

A class at Nanyang Technological University. Graduates from its business and computing double degree programme took home a gross median monthly salary of $4,583 last year. This put their salaries almost on a par with those who studied law or medicine
A class at Nanyang Technological University. Graduates from its business and computing double degree programme took home a gross median monthly salary of $4,583 last year. This put their salaries almost on a par with those who studied law or medicine at other universities, who earned between $4,700 and $4,900, according to a survey of full-time, fresh graduates released last Wednesday.PHOTO: NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

Highest jump of 33% rise for NTU grads with business and computing double degree: Survey

With the rise of technologies for making financial transactions better, and Singapore's push to become a more connected nation, graduates of a double degree programme here have enjoyed a big jump in pay.

Graduates from Nanyang Technological University's (NTU's) business and computing double degree programme had the highest pay jump last year among their peers - they took home a gross median monthly salary of $4,583, a 33 per cent pay increase compared to their seniors who graduated in 2014.

This put their salaries almost on a par with those who studied law or medicine at other universities, who earned between $4,700 and $4,900, according to a survey of full-time, fresh graduates released last Wednesday.

The survey involved graduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS), NTU and the Singapore Management University.

Almost half of the more than 30 graduates from NTU's business and computing course went to the financial and insurance industry, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

Banks said the "fintech revolution" sweeping the world makes combined degrees for business and computing valuable. (Fintech refers to financial technology, in which technology is applied to financial services - such as mobile payments and money transfers - to make them more efficient.)

A business and computing double degree can help graduates to "quickly understand how and where technology can improve the financial services that institutions provide to clients", said head of campus recruitment at Credit Suisse Asia Pacific Nikki Davies.

Mr Malcolm Harrow, senior technology officer for Singapore and South East Asia at JP Morgan, said that graduates from computer-based courses "will have sufficient know-how to link technology to business processes as well as have strong problem solving skills".

Technology and recruitment experts added that the country's smart nation initiative, which envisions the use of technology to make daily living more convenient, may have increased the need for graduates with specialised IT skills.

The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year.

Said Ms Linda Teo, country manager of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore: "As the nation moves up the value chain, the demand for complex technology and services to support such changes creates the demand for dual-degree and combined-skills graduates."

And the gaps in the industry that need to be filled, said Ms Shirley Wong, chairman of the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation, include the areas of data analytics and cyber security.

A shortage in graduates here with business and computing skills could have allowed them to command higher salaries too.

Mr Alvin Ang, who runs recruitment firm Quantum Leap Career Consultancy, said this is partly due to the difficulty in hiring foreigners for the sector, after government efforts to curb foreign labour.

The demand for IT expertise also meant that fresh graduates of NUS' computer engineering programme, which typically enrols 100 to 120 students, also enjoyed higher salaries - their pay was up 14.3 per cent from last year to hit $4,000.

Mr Joel Quek, 26, who is currently working as a tech analyst in a multinational bank, said that doing a double degree in business and computing at NTU gave him an edge.

"If not for my business modules, I might not have even thought of joining the finance industry. So, doing this double degree opened my mind and my options," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Fintech push leads to pay surge for some fresh grads'. Print Edition | Subscribe