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Guest comment: Singapore is the new centre for financial tech

The finance technology recruitment market has been transformed and demand for skills is now incredibly high, says Chris Mead, general manager of Hays in Singapore.

After several years in which Hong Kong and Tokyo were the finance technology leaders, Singapore has rapidly become a leading financial centre and technology hub in its own right, offering a wider range of products and services to local and global markets than ever before.

While Singapore has for some time been considered an ideal location for global banks to build development, support and infrastructure hubs to support their expanding global requirements, more firms are now enhancing their presence to align these technology centres to trading desks. While few firms house their regional trading franchises locally, they are looking to Singapore to provide a range of trading-specific functions.

This is creating a greater need for technologists with a more diverse skill set, including specific knowledge of traded instruments. As a result, the demand for finance technology candidates has never been higher. Demand is across the full gamut of skills, from the traditional focus of development and support functions to the recent increase in demand for project skills such as business analysts, project and programme managers, service and delivery lead skills, as well as QA and testing functions.

C++ and Java developers with strong server-side/real-time specific development skills are in particular demand, as are Unix, SQL, Oracle and C# developers (Winforms). FX, fixed income, commodities and derivatives (generic) are also areas of demand.

In light of the increased need for staff, salaries have risen. For example, business analysts are in short supply (a reflection of Singapore becoming locally responsible for regional projects), and there is a definite willingness from most employers to increase their salaries, especially where candidates have a high level of relevant business knowledge.

There are many advantages to working in Singapore as a technologist. The favourable taxation system and quality of life offered in Singapore compared to Hong Kong or Tokyo are particular attractions to the market.

And while more exposure to the business can often be gained through Hong Kong roles, given the demand for the very best technologists and a shallow local candidate pool, most top-tier firms are now prepared to recruit individuals without a finance background, providing they have first-rate skills in their specialist area. This provides an ideal opportunity for candidates looking to enter the banking market for the first time.

Chris Mead can be contacted at chris.mead@hays.com.sg or via www.hays.sg

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AUTHORChris Mead Insider Comment

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