8 in 10 Singapore CFOs struggle to hire qualified finance professionals: Survey

Digitisation, automation and AI initiatives are placing additional pressure on financial employers to recruit technologically-adept candidates.
Digitisation, automation and AI initiatives are placing additional pressure on financial employers to recruit technologically-adept candidates.ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA

SINGAPORE - More than eight in 10 (83 per cent) of Singapore's chief financial officers (CFO) find it challenging to source qualified finance professionals, according to a survey by recruitment consultancy Robert Half.

The number rises to 85 per cent who predict it will become even tougher to do so in the next five years.

Robert Half said there is high demand for financial professionals as company expansion in Singapore over the past 12 months is leading to a recruitment drive for commercially-savvy financial talent who can give businesses a competitive edge.

A previous Robert Half poll in October 2018 had noted that a majority of Singapore CFOs have also hired the wrong person for the job.

Its latest Robert Half Salary Guide found the most in-demand financial jobs to be, in order: credit risk officer, internal auditor (financial services), risk specialist, finance manager, relationship manager, tax manager, internal auditor (commerce and industry), financial analyst, credit controller and accountant.

The highest salary among the list was reserved for internal auditors (commerce and industry), which tops out at $200,000 annually. The lowest was for accountants, who command a salary range of $50,000 to $75,000.

The annual study was conducted in January 2019 by an independent research firm, surveying 150 CFOs in Singapore.

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore, said digitisation, automation and AI initiatives are placing additional pressure on financial employers to recruit technologically-adept candidates.

"Combined with new regulations and the skills shortage, finance leaders are struggling to find the talent they need to face commercial challenges in 2019."

Within this hiring climate, Mr Imbert-Bouchard said there was particularly high demand for candidates in risk, auditing, financial and client management as financial institutions and private banks continue to expand their footprint across Asia.

He added that the rise of e-payments is creating strong demand for accountants and credit controllers who are able to efficiently streamline strategic responsibilities for businesses.

Said Mr Imbert-Bouchard: "New and more digitally-focused roles within the finance sector is fueling the war for talent, and companies need to be proactive in not only enticing new talent to their organisation with a competitive salary, but also incentivising their top performing staff to stay. And while salary is just one component of the overall remuneration package, training and development are also vital for employers to secure and retain the best talent."