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BarCap's cuts not so severe in Asia

First the bad news: Barclays Capital is making redundancies (remember those) in Singapore, but (here's the good news) we're not talking very large numbers. Only an unfortunate few are set to go and many of them should get snapped up by other firms.

Bloomberg recently reported that BarCap is cutting about 300 administrative and support jobs globally. And according to eFinancialCareers UK sources, its Glasgow operations centre is set to perform functions currently carried out in London, New York and Singapore.

The bank has not yet revealed which cities will feel the brunt of the redundancies, but several recruitment industry sources say Singapore is the safest place to be.

"I've heard that about nine people are being let go in operations and about a dozen in IT. There might be more in finance, but overall that's not many for a bank which employs about 850 back/middle office people in Singapore," says one headhunter who asked not to be named.

For the first half of this year, BarCap, which uses the lion city as a back-office hub, has been an aggressive recruiter. "Now it's taking a breather here while it builds its Glasgow shared-services office. For the moment, it seems to have a freeze on non-essential back-office hires in Singapore," says the anonymous recruiter.

But if you're laid off from BarCap, you shouldn't struggle to find work elsewhere in Singapore. Goldman Sachs, for example, is looking to hire 100 people in operations, IT and finance, she adds. Other active recruiters in 2010 include ANZ, DBS, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and RBS.

At least it's not 2009

Back-office hiring volumes are back to about 70 per cent of what they were in the 2006/2007 boom, and they are considerably higher than a year ago, says Craig Brewer, manager, banking and financial services, Hudson Singapore. "It's a good, stable market and recruitment has been recovering consistently since the first quarter," he adds.

Paul Endacott, managing director, Singapore, Ambition, says the first half of 2010 was very active as firms ramped up recruitment to support an increase in front-office headcounts and deal making. "We're beginning to quieten down a little bit now as banks take stock of where they stand and how much they still need to build."

Pure back-office functions such as cash and payments, settlements, corporate actions, documentation and reference-data are in demand, adds Endacott. He says hiring is most challenging at VP level and above because candidates with sufficient experience locally are in limited supply.

"For cultural reasons, there remains a preference to hire locals for roles which involve managing teams, or at the very least to hire candidates that have experience in running Asia teams. However, if they can't be found locally, banks will look overseas for the best possible talent," says Endacott.

Brewer believes the Singaporean skill shortage must ultimately be fixed via increased graduate recruitment into the back office. "All banks need to get together and build up their talent base because the market is growing faster than the population. They need to put some liquidity into the employment market and alleviate salary pressure."

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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