29 January 2014

Singapore employers to give employees career-based TLC in 2014

The 2014 annual Robert Walters Global Salary Survey predicts that employers in Singapore will be focussing recruitment efforts on domestic hires in the year ahead. They will also be increasing training and development opportunities while charting clearer career paths for employees.

Toby Fowlston, Managing Director of Robert Walters Singapore, commented, “With the increasing competition for top Singaporean talent, firms are recognising the importance of developing existing employees with transferable skill sets. This allows for more promotion opportunities from within and rewards employees with an expanded scope of responsibilities."

Key highlights for 2014 include:

  • Accountancy & Finance: Accounting and finance professionals with niche skills in areas such as treasury, taxation and internal audit will command premium salary increments
  • Banking: Risk, governance and controls will remain the focus for financial institutions amidst ongoing market volatility
  • Human Resources: Contract hiring is likely to be on the rise for HR professionals as employers prefer a flexible workforce, in particular for payroll staff and junior HR executives
  • Information Technology: As companies realise the value of providing the best possible customer experience, IT professionals with usability backgrounds will be highly sought-after
As Singapore looks to further regulate its banking industry and maintain its global reputation as a secure financial hub, there will be greater demand for legal and compliance professionals. 

Singapore employees are to receive conservative salary increments in 2014, as they did in 2013, predicts the 2014 Hays Salary Guide, which reveals salary and recruiting trends for over 1,200 roles in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Japan. 

In 2013, more than one in two Singapore employers (53%) increased salaries between 3% and 6%, with just 5% giving raises of above 10%. According to Hays, these findings are slightly more conservative than those for Asia overall, where 22% of employers offered increases of between 6% and 10%.
While 56% of Singapore respondents intend to increase salaries between 3% and 6%, and 17% will increase salaries above this level, 27% have shared that they expect to give an increase of less than 3% or no increase at all. In comparison, 40% of employers across Asia intend to increase salaries between 3% and 6% and 29% will offer increases above 6%. 

“Cost control has lowered the ceiling for salary increases in many organisations across Asia,” says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Singapore & Malaysia. “Employers are more focused on the bottom line. Certainly salaries remain competitive, and for the top talent many employers offer higher packages to entice candidates, proving that money still talks. But in general salaries are starting to become more conservative than they once were."

Hays agrees with Robert Walters on a heightened focus on existing employees.

In an attempt to manage retention, we have seen an increase in the number of organisations offering benefits. 85% of organisations now offer their staff benefits, which is up from 79% last year," said Mead. “And according to our survey, 53% of employers intend to award a bonus to more than 50% of staff."

“In other positive news, in the next 12 months 71 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase and 43 per cent expect their permanent staff levels to increase. That’s strong evidence in support of a local economy that is both confident and providing jobs.

“This means that those candidates with in-demand skills and realistic salary expectations can be confident that this year will provide them with the opportunity to secure a challenging career move and a salary increase,” he said.

A summary of key trends revealed in the Hays Salary Guide for Singapore follows:

  • Accountancy & Finance: Competition to attract the top talent remains high with tax, compliance and management consulting candidates sought after. Firms are increasingly using less tangible benefits to attract candidates, such as long term career prospects, more varied client exposure or more rapid promotions. Salaries are likely to remain at a consistent level this year and significant increases to base remuneration are unlikely.
  • Banking: Salaries for risk and compliance professionals are higher than for other job functions, and those changing jobs receive the highest salary increments. Increases between 20 and 25% are common. Those banks unable to offer such salary increases are instead offering good risk and compliance professionals sizeable bonuses. Private banking is the biggest growth area in Singapore and all private banks are looking for experienced, well connected Relationship Managers.
  • Insurance: High profile acquisitions throughout Southeast Asia have led to demand for project management, change and integration specialists, as well as strategy candidates. Acquisitions have created demand for sales and distribution professionals to grow and expand market share. This in turn means rises in salary and revised commission structures to attract talent
  • Information Technology: Hays has seen increased demand for contract resources across all levels, with companies moving towards implementing more advanced flexible workforce strategies. In areas of high demand such as cloud, virtualisation, mobile development and security, the recruitment firm expects to see salary increases above the market average.
  • Life Sciences: MNCs are actively seeking candidates with technology transfer experience in process, chemistry and engineering as the major facilities in Singapore gear up for capital expansion plans this year. Overall salaries remain stable across both technical and commercial functions.
  • Human Resources: Hays describes this as a "candidate driven" market and says that as a result, salaries are rising. Hays expect salaries to remain competitive as the shortage of candidates will continue throughout 2014.
  • Office Professionals: High turnover remains a key feature of Singapore’s office professionals market as candidates change employers to progress their career. Competition for the top talent is very high. Hays notes that there is high demand for Executive Assistants and Secretaries across all industries. The sharpest rise is in the pharmaceutical industry as many new companies have recently established offices here.
  • Contact Centres: Hays predicts continued demand for junior candidates throughout 2014, and the salary scale for junior agents to increase slightly in order for companies to attract quality candidates to meet growing demand.
  • Legal: Private practice firms and financial institutions are looking for candidates who are well versed in the financing of large and complex deals, including bilateral and syndicated loans, assets and leveraged and structured finance. This demand is expected to continue throughout 2014.
  • Sales & Marketing: In 2013, Hays saw companies invest in senior management sales hires and this trend is expected to continue for the remainder of 2014. There is a growing focus on market intelligence roles ranging from consumer insights to business analytics, Hays said. This function looks ahead and contributes significantly to the direction of new product development and budget decisions, and is therefore highly valued.
  • Supply Chain: Specialist candidates such as Planners or Operations Managers with experience managing outsourced manufacturing providers will be in high demand, particularly in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. This will lead to increased salaries.
  • Procurement: Indirect procurement is very active and given the demand for talent, we are likely to see a need for specialists from overseas. We are also likely to see salary increases for highly valued locally experienced candidates, particularly in the banking, pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries.
  • Construction & Engineering: Hays shares that there is high demand for Project, Construction and Tunnel Managers who have end-to-end project experience from set up through to execution and handover. The company expects to see greater salary increases for Quantity Surveyors, Estimators, Project Managers, Construction Managers and Tunnel Managers than for other technical and non-technical staff.
  • Architecture: Local candidates with local qualifications and experience, or citizens and permanent residents with overseas qualifications recognised by the Board of Architects, are likely to be the most attractive to employers. Such candidates are in short supply and can therefore negotiate a higher salary in response to the Government’s push to cap the number of foreign hires, Hays says.
  • Property: New property developments continue to underpin an active market and create ongoing staffing needs for developers, service providers, project management and facilities management companies in Singapore.
  • Oil & Gas: With Singapore acting as a regional hub for many companies servicing the South East Asian market, Hays is seeing high demand for Reservoir Engineers, Senior Geophysicists and Geologists. This is especially the case for Asian nationals who are required to support offshore and onshore drilling operations. Employers are particularly keen to secure candidates with experience on non-conventional or deepwater oil and gas fields.
The 2014 Hays Salary Guide can be obtained by contacting Hays Singapore, or downloading The Hays Salary Guide 2014 iPhone app from iTunes. The Robert Walters Global Salary Survey can be requested here.