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Don't go to Singapore any more to find a permanent banking IT job (but do if you fancy becoming a contractor)

Finding finance tech work Singapore in the current quarter is a tricky business as the flow of new jobs slows to a trickle, but there is hope in the form of contracting and replacement roles.

"Over the last two months there has been a definite slowdown in recruitment. Major employers in Singapore have made a few redundancies and hiring has been put on hold," says Steve Hutchinson, country manager, Singapore, TRC Search.

Because recruitment was strong in 2010, some consolidation was naturally going to happen this year, adds Georgina Parker, associate director, Nicoll Curtin Technology. And even in good years, banks usually attract most of their IT staff in the first two quarters to take advantage of post-bonus movement and freshly-approved budgets.

Nevertheless, global economic conditions and banks' cost cutting have made the current job market less active than in the same quarter last year. "They have a knock-on effect to recruitment in IT banking in Asia, however, it is likely that the fluctuations in hiring will be less extreme than in the other financial hubs," says Parker.

Most permanent finance-tech vacancies in Singapore are now replacement roles. "The big hirers have to continue to recruit just to stand still. Standard Chartered and Citi remain busy, but even historically-consistent hirers have stopped recruitment for 2011," says a headhunter who asked not to be named. Another anonymous recruiter says Barclays Capital has "drastically reduced" its intake.

Time to seriously consider contracting?

Banks that urgently need IT professionals are increasingly taking on contractors to help circumvent headcount budgetary restrictions and to speed up approval processes which have become longer and more complex for permanent positions.

At Barclays Capital and Standard Chartered, for example, the hiring process has become more stringent, according to a third recruiter, who also preferred not to be named. Permanent sign-offs at most banks used to take three to four weeks - now they take seven to eight.

"In the past it took two managers and one head of department to approve - now it's six to seven. This makes contracting a more attractive option. Some firms, RBS for example, are also doing it to minimise the risk of taking a full-time person on board with all the salary and bonus implications," says the anonymous recruiter.

Justin Reid, associate director, South East Asia, Aurec, adds: "We've seen a huge increase in contracting opportunities recently. On the candidate side there is a feeling that 'no one's permanent job is safe anyway', so job seekers are becoming more receptive to contacting. A guarantee of a role for 12 months is enough for a lot of people. This attitude was unheard of a few years ago in Singapore."

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager
  • Yu
    15 December 2011

    If you want to become a cotnractor consider the following

    1) On average you will have three months unwanteds unpaid leave a year.
    2) You pay tax where you work but is you go mome at weekend will have to pay some, possibly a lot, of tax in your home country
    3) A 12 month contract maylast 24 hours, a one week contract may become three years
    4) Do not believe any one who says an extension is certain
    5) top management can get rid of you at the drop of a hat. Even if it is nothing to do with your skills, recruiters may assume it was you nto the management.
    6) Working away from home may damage your marriage. It is less likely to improve it.
    7) Companies (wrongly) see contractors as expensive

  • ar
    24 November 2011

    Indeed IT contracting has been popular more many years. In 2008/2009, there were many IT contractors in banking industry. I believe it is because many IT roles are project based and it is more manageable to hire contracts to complete projects.

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