Wednesday, December 05, 2007

:: Is the banking recruitment machine losing its steam?

Singapore – Private banks in Singapore are easing up on recruitment, in light of the volatile sub-prime market in the US, says the Business Times.

Manager of search firm Robert Walters’ front office banking practice, Gary Lai says, “The banks won't admit this but they are probably not as aggressive as before.”

Having done well in Singapore over the past two years, assets of private banking have increased to an estimation of US$500 (S$725) billion this year, resulting in a shortage of staff.

Another recruitment firm, Kelly Services, said that hiring wouldn’t stop entirely, but “will slow down to some extent over the short to mid term”.

While the sub-prime crisis is one reason for the ease in , with others being steep competition and high costs, say Kelly Services.

A financial advisor has said that for example, UBS have slowed hiring for its trainee programme. It “used to aggressively look for people, asking bankers to see if they knew people interested in it. But that has stopped',” said the source.

And at Citi, “they have even cut things like staff social programmes for gatherings or drinks,” reported an investment strategist.

Mostly in the US and UK where investment banking centres are based, banks have made clear their intentions of downsizing their staff. However, “I would find it unusual if Singapore was not affected”, reported the strategist.

“At banks that will or have cut jobs, if a unit is seen to be aggressively hiring it sends the wrong signal to the rest,” said Robert Walters' Gary Lai.

Joshua Yim, chief executive of JCG Search International said that, banking sectors in Asia are “isolated to a certain degree, but at a big corporate, depending on which bank we're talking about, you can have across-the-board reductions.”

Banks are less aggressive than when they were five months ago, and those affected by the sub-prime crisis are cutting back, he said.

On the other hand, banks and insiders have reported that the hiring slowdown rumours are unfounded, and Citi Private Bank have said that it would continue to grow in double digit percentage terms in the short to medium run. And come 2008, it “will continue to recruit the appropriate talent in order to match our business expansion and growth needs”.

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