Sunday, December 25, 2011

Singapore job outlook bleak in 2012

Since the printed money stopped flowing into Asia by the end of Quantitative Easing (Money Printing) 2 and European sovereign debt crisis became a norm, job outlook in Singapore is getting grimmer every passing quarter. Inflation, which is persistently expected to ease next quarter, is surprising(!) experts every quarter with its increasing trend, exports are recording q-o-q fall every quarter and banking and financing professionals are nervously watching job reductions in western banks.

The trend for financial back office jobs was already mentioned in a previous article in October 2011:
"We heard about redundancies in Hong Kong some time ago, but news of layoffs in Singapore’s financial sector have only hit the headlines recently. 
The Business Times reported that Bank of American Merrill Lynch (BoAML) and UBS have both fired i-bank staff. And other firms like HSBC have confirmed the restructuring of their Singapore business. Although Asian redundancies haven’t been large-scale so far, staff are certainly getting the jitters. 
One headhunter, who asked not to be named, says RBS may make cuts in Asia later this year. Citi too, could potentially slash investment banking jobs given its focus on global transaction services and retail. Another anonymous source tells us that Barclays and J.P. Morgan could make layoffs. Those in client-facing i-bank roles can breathe a little easier though: firings have been mostly in the back office thus far, he adds." 
Source : Back-office jobs under threat at Singapore investment banks
Some comments in the article says that RBS, Barclays and Morgan Stanley has already started lay-offs in Singapore at that time. in late November 2011, bankrupted MF Global's Singapore branch has laid of 80 staff. And later in early December, it was reported that Citigroup laid off 40 staff recently:
"Citigroup Singapore has laid off about 40 employees in recent weeks, The Straits Times has learnt. The job cuts, which included senior positions, have come as the American bank on Wednesday announced it would axe 4,500 jobs globally and set aside US$400 million (S$515 million) for severance and other related costs. 
The cuts here are believed to have come selectively across its investment bank, markets team and private bank. A Citi spokesman in Singapore confirmed on Wednesday that there have been layoffs."
Source : Citigroup Singapore laid off about 40 staff recently
Just a week after these bad news, Morgan Stanley slashed 80 Singapore support staff and offered transfers to India and Hungary. According to the news other banks have back-office relocation on their radars:
"In one of the most sizable redeployments this year, Morgan Stanley is shifting 80 back-office roles out of Singapore, with employees given the chance to move to India and Hungary, according to sources quoted in The Wall Street Journal. The news provides a high-profile illustration of a general trend: Singapore – aided by an appreciating currency – is becoming more expensive just at the time when Western banks are urgently looking to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Back-office recruiters in Singapore have been talking about the relocation “threat” for several months, so Morgan Stanley’s plans come as no great surprise. “Singapore is now a much different place to when it was developing as an infrastructure hub in 2005 to 2007. While costs have risen – both salaries and property – a lot of banks tell me that real estate expenses aren’t too different to India; compensation is the real differential,” says Craig Brewer director, banking and financial services, Hudson."
Luckily as some jobs are moving out of Singapore to India, some jobs are moving from more expensive and regulated places like London to Singapore so the pace of job loss is not so severe now. Read the last paragraph of the news above.

According to The Business Review Singapore, more lay offs may be on the way:
"More worrying still are reports heard on the streets of Singapore by your correspondent that at least 2 international banks are planning net headcount reductions over the course of 2012 - the first in the living memory of many young bankers. 
The reason is that while some more jobs are offshored, in years past they would have been made up for by growth in other parts of the bank. But with global markets and investment banking business also in a hold or dive pattern, the outlook is really quite bleak."
Source : Will the last bank stop hiring please turn the lights out, The Business Review Singapore
 So it is not surprising to see that nearly half of Singaporeans bearish on hiring activity in the next 12 months and more than half of male employees bearish on business outlook for 2012.


  1. Cool post! Wish you can post another Singapore job outlook bleak for 2013. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward for your next post.

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