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Forget the global job cuts. In Singapore, HSBC is….hiring

While HSBC has been busy axing about 4,000 jobs globally, in Singapore it has been doing something rather different: hiring.

HSBC in Singapore has increased its “business-facing headcount” by more than 10% over the past year and now employs more than 3,000 people across all functions, a spokesperson for the bank told us.

There’s more recruitment to come. As part of a previously announced broader plan to expand in Asian wealth management – which includes additional hiring in Hong Kong – HSBC is adding over 400 Singapore-based retail and private banking employees (such as relationship managers) between 2018 and 2023.

HSBC currently has 12 Singapore-based wealth roles on its career site, including two for Indonesia-coverage private bankers, as well as several jobs in its Jade unit, which targets mass-affluent customers with at least S$1.2m in investable assets. This is not a one-off. HSBC has been hiring for Jade and for its offshore private banking desks (China as well as Southeast Asian markets) for several months, says a Singapore-based recruiter who works with HSBC.

But HSBC’s Singapore expansion isn’t focusing purely on wealth management. Last week the bank appointed Philip Lee as Southeast Asia vice chairman for global banking (the division that includes investment banking, markets, and transaction banking, among other functions).

Lee, Deutsche Bank’s former Southeast Asia vice chairman, has stepped into a newly created role and has been tasked with continuing HSBC’s “investment in Singapore as a wholesale hub for Southeast Asia” and with “growing the franchise across the region”, according to a statement from HSBC, which describes Singapore as a “strategic priority for HSBC globally”.

Lee’s move and the bank’s bullish statement about growth, suggest that global banking headcount in Singapore will increase in the near future, say recruiters.

“HSBC has always dominated hiring in Hong Kong and North Asia, and now it thinks there’s market share to take in the south,” says another Singapore-based recruiter. “In Singapore and across Southeast Asia, you visibly see Standard Chartered, Maybank, Citi, and DBS – but less so HSBC, so from a consumer perspective there’s also a perception that the bank is under-represented in the region, even though it has a good footprint,” he adds.

Despite HSBC’s recent round of global restructuring, Singapore job seekers generally see HSBC as “relatively stable compared to other banks”, says the first recruiter. “It’s generally seen as a conservative bank with a low risk appetite, and as not being the best paymaster. But some candidates are ok with that, in exchange for good job stability. But these perceptions may soon change with the most recent leadership overhaul,” she adds, referring to Lee’s appointment in Singapore.

Image credit: bunhill, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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