Saturday, September 8, 2012

Credit Suisse is not the only bank moving back office jobs outside Singapore

This week Singapore media reported that Credit Suisse is moving out "some" back office jobs out of Singapore. The news is based on a Financial Times article which reports that Credit Suisse is relocating dozens of back-office jobs from Singapore to India and Poland:

"Credit Suisse is relocating dozens of back-office jobs from Singapore to India and Poland as part of efforts to cut costs as some western banks find it more expensive to maintain staff to support the growth of higher-earning “front office” jobs in the Asian financial hub.

The development is a sign that Singapore is facing intense competition as a low-cost centre for banks’ back-office operations, even as its low tax environment and proximity to growth markets in Asia attracts top-earning investment banking and trading jobs from the west.

Credit Suisse is neither the first or the only international banks to relocate back-office roles from Singapore to cheaper locations. As more international banks moved back office jobs from West to Singapore in the past decade, they also helped Singapore to become a very expensive location to make business. Although the taxes are low in Singapore, almost everything else is very expensive and the cost of both salaries and real estate has skyrocketed.
Cost cutting has fuelled the rise of Asian back-office centres in India and the Philippines, and to a lesser extent China and Malaysia. Banks – including ANZ, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, RBS, Standard Chartered and UBS – have relocated operations positions into emerging markets. RBS, for example, has shifted roles from Singapore and Hong Kong to India. Morgan Stanley last month moved about 80 back-office jobs from Singapore to India and Hungary. Non-client facing jobs at the junior or mid level are typically the most transferable. 
Source : An in-depth look at why Credit Suisse and its rivals are relocating back-office roles out of Singapore
Only Credit Suisse's move has been reported in the media in Singapore while I have not seen Morgan Stanley's recent 80 back-office job move anywhere.

According to Kyle Blockley, director, KS Consulting, offshoring out of Singapore started to gain momentum about two years ago:
 “Singapore has become a financial hub in one decade, which has been great for its growth, but detrimental for costs. Staffing is one of banks’ biggest expenses, so it’s to be expected that they search for cheaper locations.”
Source : An in-depth look at why Credit Suisse and its rivals are relocating back-office roles out of Singapore
Although there is still ongoing redundancies in Asia foreign finance professionals are still keen on Asia. But unfortunately, employers in the region are not as enthusiastic:

"Mark Enticott, managing director, ambition, Hong Kong, says: “There continues to be a high volume of expats wanting to move into Asia. The region is still perceived to be the growth engine of the world, but firms are mostly looking for candidates with local or Asian experience. Besides, employers aren’t willing to pay for expensive relocations.”"
Source : Four cold hard truths about Asia’s financial employment market

But there are also some positive news in this cost cutting spree. According to Bloomberg, Wall Street and European banks are transferring jobs from Japan to Hong Kong and Singapore to reduce expenses as the euro region’s debt woes dent global investor confidence. Tokyo is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to ECA International’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey conducted in March. Singapore is 32nd and Hong Kong 36th. 

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