A Standard Chartered Singapore head joins fintech firm that’s worth more than Goldman Sachs

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Standard Chartered’s head of sanctions compliance for ASEAN and South Asia has moved to Ant Financial. Haze Heng, who was an executive director at Stan Chart, joined the Singapore office of the world’s largest fintech firm earlier this month as head of sanctions compliance.

Heng spent about four and a half years at Stan Chart, having started out as a senior sanctions advisor at director level, according to her LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, she worked for two years as an Asia Pacific anti-money laundering business program manager at Citi in Singapore.

While shifting from a bank to a tech firm is far from a new phenomenon in Singapore, it’s still a relatively rare career change for compliance professionals like Heng. Technologists, M&A bankers and business strategists make up the majority of the moves.

Moreover, Ant Financial, an affiliate firm of Alibaba that boasts about 1bn users on its flagship Alipay mobile payments network, has flown somewhat under the radar as a destination for ex-banking professionals in Singapore.

Despite the colossal size of its business globally – Ant was most recently valued at $150bn, making it more valuable than Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – the firm is so far not a large employer in Singapore. Ant Financial reportedly has more than 100 people in its Singapore office, about half of whom are software engineers, but that headcount pales in comparison to the likes of Google (1,000-plus) and Grab (1,500 and counting).

These two tech firms – along with others such as Amazon – have been poaching from the Singapore banking sector for the past two years. LinkedIn profiles indicate that Ant has been less aggressive in its banking recruitment, with a few exceptions. Senior business developer Rain Yi Huang, for example, was previously a business analyst at HSBC, while senior engineer Sandeep Joshi worked for JP Morgan for more than six years.

However, senior hires like Heng and Ant Financial’s growth plans in Singapore suggest that the company will need to take on more people from banks in the near future. In an interview last year, Geoff Jiang, general manager of the technology and business innovation group, said Ant Financial will increase its headcount in Singapore as part of plans to boost its Southeast Asian business. The expansion includes opening one of Ant’s so-called “Damo” research centres in Singapore, its first outside of China, the US and Israel.

New Ant Financial recruit Heng began her banking career at Citi in 2003 and reached VP level just three years later in a sanctions compliance role. She joined Deutsche Bank in March 2012 but returned to Citi in November of that year, according to LinkedIn.

Image credit: David Higgins, Unsplash

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