Want job at potential digital-only bank? Ask this question first

Seek info about contingency plans if applicant fails to land licence, advises recruitment firm

Candidates looking to land jobs with companies that have bid for digital-only bank licences should ask hiring managers about contingency plans if the applicant companies fail to get a licence, an international recruitment firm advised in a report today.

"Some candidates have already made the move (to digital-only bank hopefuls) before licences have been issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore," Sydney-founded Ethos BeathChapman, which has an outpost in Singapore among others, said in a talent report on the digital banking sector here.

"Clearly, this poses an issue if the hiring contender does not land a licence to operate," it added, while conceding that contenders have alternative, albeit sometimes very different, products and solutions to transition into.

The race to staff Singapore's yet-to-be-approved digital banks is hotting up, as a number of critical hires and jobs are being created across the digital banking industry, said Ethos BeathChapman, which recruits for sectors such as fintech, banking and analytics.

The report, which was based on interviews with candidates and the firm's clients, noted: "With digital-only banking just around the corner for Singapore, contenders know how essential it is to have the right mix of skills and specialists in place to hit the ground running (next year)."

The Business Times reported on Tuesday that Mr Charles Wong, Citibank Singapore's head of retail banking, had left the bank to join a consortium by Grab and Singtel in their bid for a digital full bank licence.

There were 21 applications, and up to five will be appointed. All applicants will know by the middle of the year if their applications are successful.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh at the National University of Singapore Business School said that candidates need to assume their own risks when they decide to be part of the nascent digital-only banking sector here.

But the talent pool sought by digital-only banks is highly mobile, and the tight labour market conditions, combined with their valuable skill sets, give them the upper hand, added Prof Loh, who is also director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations.

Ethos BeathChapman noted: "From the traditional banking community, there is keen interest to work on the latest state-of-the-art and cutting-edge projects, to be part of this 'next big thing'."

Jobs will include technology ones such as data scientists, mining engineers and cyber security experts, to more traditional banking roles such as business analysts, auditors and legal specialists.

Their demand will put a squeeze on the data and analytics sector, Ethos BeathChapman said.

It added: "There will be a spike in requirements for data scientists, analysts and analytics and mining engineers to ensure customer data is being used in the most effective way, so customers can be offered the most up-to-date and relevant products and services."

Based on Ethos BeathChapman's research, a cyber security head with 15 to 20 years of experience can command an annual salary of $250,000 to $350,000, while an assistant vice-president in the cyber security sector can expect between $90,000 and $150,000.

A social media marketing specialist, user experience or user interface designer can expect to be paid between $50,000 and $180,000 a year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2020, with the headline Want job at potential digital-only bank? Ask this question first. Subscribe