Banking Operations in Singapore – In or out?

Hagen Lee February 27, 20203 mins read

It’s 2020, the start of a new decade. New resolutions written over the Christmas and New Years’ gathering – saving up, travelling plans, exercise regime and career aspirations.

If you are in banking operations, perhaps the latter is the top priority on your list. What’s next? 

Times have changed - a decade ago, fresh graduates and young professionals were competing aggressively over the prospects of working in one of the top investment banks in the CBD vicinity, perhaps not the front office kind of roles, but rather the lynchpin of the infrastructure to support the business – Operations. The likes of post trade lifecycle, middle office support and product controllers used to be highly sought after - good salary and structured career path. 

Fast forward ten years down the road, people are quoting these types of roles as ‘sunset industry’. Offshoring has dominated the headlines for banks as they look at cost reduction while they mitigate business underperformance. Some may argue that the offshoring trend has peaked and the remaining banking operations roles in Singapore are stabilized. But market sentiments continue to loom within the current talent pool as they question the career prospects of this function. As a specialist who recruits for Operations talent in Singapore, below are some tips/ pointers for Operations professionals while you consider whether to remain or move out.

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Change the mindset – Operations is no longer processor

From an individual perspective, arguably it’s a matter of how you position your skillset and expertise. Dump away the traditional notion of Operations being a processing team, embrace the fact that this function has evolved over years. Embedding the element of risk and control in your day to day operational support will help you realize the importance of your role, essentially the first line of defense. By tweaking the mindset, you will also appreciate the value add you bring to the business and elevate your sense of responsibilities.

Partner technology

Operations teams are always looking to automate and improve processes, to make things more efficient and effective. This is especially so in Singapore, given the high cost of labor, it is important that you keep up with the changes to make sure you are aligned to the cost involved. It doesn’t have to be highly skilled technology though. MS Excel is one of the most used platforms, the ability to extract information from the database in a quick manner could be what differentiates you from the rest. Learn how to play with MS Excel - pivot table, VLOOKUP are some skills that you can refresh yourself over the course of work, in case you have lost touch with what you learnt during your tertiary education.   

Small to mid-sized banks

Moving to a smaller set up may not be a bad thing for Operations professionals. In fact, those places are keen to look at talents who can run the Operations hub in Singapore. We have seen smaller banks setting up their presence in Singapore and typically that comes along with full scale operations in Singapore. They don’t have an established presence in low cost countries like India or Philippines, as such Singapore is the preferred location to run the business. Your Operations skillset will come into play and that could represent a different set of challenges in your career. 

Ultimately, every career option comes with risks and rewards. It will be realistically challenging to find an evergreen type of business, function and role that you can grow in for the entire career lifespan. Look at things from different perspectives and you may realize that you are in a much better position than you imagined it to be.

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As a specialist recruiter, I would love to bring forward our relationship to understand how we can partner you in carving out a successful career in Banking Operations. Feel free to reach out to me for a further conversation at my email below.
 

Hagen Lee - R1870932's picture
Consultant | Operations, Banking & Financial Services
hlee@morganmckinley.com

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