Standard Chartered “pays up” amid “price war” in Singapore, HK
Bill Winter’s revelation that Standard Chartered wants to increase pay is likely to boost the Asia-focused bank's efforts to expand its headcounts in Singapore and Hong Kong, markets where salaries are soaring at unprecedented rates amid local talent shortages.
The Stan Chart CEO told Bloomberg that the bank is having to “pay up” to meet employees’ rising expectations, adding that he’s hopeful that an increase in staff attrition in recent years has now leveled off. Winters said SCB has found ways to save money in other areas, keeping expenses essentially flat. “I hope that we can continue with that trend, i.e. find the savings to pay for ever more pricey talent,” he said.
In Hong Kong and Singapore – two of Standard Chartered’s largest markets and home to many of its most expensive staff, including global leaders – the news on pay will be welcomed by recruiters and hiring managers as much as it obviously will by employees and job seekers.
Like all banks, Stan Chart now needs to offer very competitive salaries in order to hire and retain people in the Asian financial hubs. Hiring became painfully expensive for banks last year in Singapore and Hong Kong as restrictions on working visas and tough quarantine rules, respectively, stymied the flow of foreign talent and forced employers to pay top dollar to poach from a limited pool of local candidates. This trend is likely to continue, at least until Covid laws are relaxed.
While front-office salaries in investment banking and wealth management saw rapid increases in 2021, technology led the way. Standard Chartered is hiring tech professionals in large numbers in Singapore this year, including for expensive mid and senior-level roles.
A Singapore-based HR representative from a rival bank said new technologists at his firm are routinely receiving increments of 25% to 35%, having previously struggled to get 10% or 15%. “In 20 years of recruiting, I’ve not seen these kind of salary increases,” he told a recent eFinancialCareers round table. “It’s not really a war for talent; it’s become a price war,” added one of his counterparts from an Asian bank.