More Singapore firms planning to trim headcounts: Hudson survey

SINGAPORE - Employers are taking a cautious approach to hiring in the first half of the year, with more firms planning to trim headcounts compared with the second half of last year, according to a new survey.

Some 7.4 per cent of employers expect to retrench in the first half of 2015, up from the 3.5 per cent who expected to do so in the second half of 2014, employment consultancy Hudson said on Tuesday.

Hudson, which specialises in placements of mid to senior level professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), polled 352 employers here by phone in November last year.

About 44.5 per cent of employers plan to recruit in the next six months, down from the 47.3 per cent who planned to add staff in the last six months of 2014, the survey found.

Banking and financial services firms reported the biggest drop in hiring intentions. Just 41.4 per cent of employers polled said they plan to add staff in the first half of the year, down from 56.3 per cent in the second half of last year, when the sector led the pack with the strongest hiring intentions.

"While Asian banks have generally had a strong 2014 with some home-grown banks expanding their operations, there has been a simultaneous softening of the market as managers adopt a 'wait and see' approach to hiring," said Mr Emmanuel White, general manager of Hudson Singapore.

Despite this, Mr White notes a keen demand for compliance and regulation roles as banks address international regulatory reform.

Banks here are also focused on marketing customised solutions for corporate clients, which means credit analysts, corporate banking relationship managers, commodity finance relationship managers and private banking relationship managers are in demand, he added.

One sector in Singapore stood out for its positive outlook.

The information and communications technologies (ICT) sector was the only one in which a majority of firms polled - 60.7 per cent - reported positive hiring intentions.

Not since the third quarter of 2011 has hiring sentiment for the ICT sector been so strong, said Hudson.

"Companies that traditionally outsourced their IT functions are now reintegrating, restructuring and building their teams as they see the benefit of an integrated global IT strategy and the role it can play in driving innovation and efficiencies," said Mr White.

"We are seeing a rise in demand for roles related to data security, project management, big data and emerging technologies such as cloud computing," he said.