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Three reasons to join a Singaporean bank

Once upon a time, overseas banks were seen as the Holy Grail for bankers in Singapore. While the foreign firm experience is still pretty sweet, candidates are increasing seeing Singapore's three banks as a viable career option.

The buzz has been overwhelmingly glowing for local banks lately. OCBC topped the inaugural Bloomberg Market's ranking of the world's strongest banks, with DBS placing fifth and UOB, sixth.

In comparison, only three US banks, Fifth Third Bancorp (7), J.P. Morgan Chase (14), Citigroup (16), made the top 20, reported The Straits Times.

The positive publicity was amplified by DBS doing astoundingly well in Q1, with a 52 per cent jump in net profits. The firm also nabbed former J.P. Morgan investment bank veteran Toby O'Connor as the chief executive of its subsidiary Islamic Bank of Asia.

Thinking of giving local banks a go? Here are three reasons why you should.

Stability is golden

Singapore banks emerged well after the GFC, even as some foreign ones tethered or wound up. Although there may not be such a thing as an iron rice bowl any more, employment at local banks is perceived as being more stable, with fewer retrenchments.

Annie Yap, managing director, AYP Associates, says: "Some foreign banks are perceived to be hire and fire. When the opportunity comes up they hire in the hundreds, but when the tide turns, they quickly fire, so that's off-putting for some candidates. Local banks on the other hand, tend to be more cautious when hiring."

Salary gap's narrowing

Generally, foreign firms tend to be more generous than Singaporean banks when it comes to compensation. However that has been gradually changing. Yap says: "Banks in Singapore are definitely catching up in terms of pay packages and I see that gap narrowing even further, as long as they continue to perform well."

Broadly speaking, local banks currently pay about 10 to 20 per cent lower than foreign banks, says another recruiter, who declined to be named. Even among Singapore banks salaries vary. DBS is seen as the best pay master, followed by OCBC and UOB, says our source.

Go local to go global

Saskia Van Dijk, senior manager, financial services, Michael Page, points out several Singapore banks have a strong commitment to expanding regionally and globally. This would appeal to candidates from some foreign banks who are looking for larger growth potential and stronger ownership which they may not get in other larger firms, she notes.

"Local banks have strong balance sheets and good relationships, which candidates can leverage off at both the junior and senior levels."

AUTHORShree Ann Mathavan Insider Comment
  • sk
    24 May 2011

    Thanks for the clarification. I must have gotten confused with the other article.

  • wr
    23 May 2011

    skeptic, it was carried out by Bloomberg, which I don't think is under the control of the SG govt

  • sk
    23 May 2011

    The ranking is done by Straiits Times, the Singapore government propaganda newspaper, Why am I not surprised?

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