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SUMMING UP 2022: Hiring landscape for finance and accounting

GDP in Singapore is expected to reach between 3% and 4% in 2022, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Growth in the region has largely been driven by increased domestic demand due to the easing of border shutdowns and COVID-19-related restrictions. We have seen strong hiring in finance and accounting this year.​The talent landscape in Singapore (like much of APAC) has, however, evolved. The desire for flexibility from candidates has changed the dynamics of the jobs market while hybrid working has fast become the new normal. Career development opportunities have also become a key factor among finance candidates evaluating new roles. We have also seen more companies strengthening efforts in talent development and talent management to retain their key talent.​In this market update, we explore hiring and industry trends across finance & accounting functions in Singapore.​Hot skills in finance & accounting functions in SingaporeBusiness analyticsBusinesses have been adopting a more data-driven approach to driving growth this year. We have seen a growing demand for data analytics expertise as a result. We are seeing trends of hiring for Financial Planning and Analysis, Commercial Finance and Finance Business Partnering professionals who have exposure in data analytics tools like Tableau, Python, SAS, QlikView and R Programming. With such tools, it can help organisations better forecast business changes which in turn able to assist the business to make better strategic decisions for recovery.Supply chain financeThe ongoing pandemic has affected global supply chains. This has shed light on the need for supply chain finance talent who can partner with supply chain leaders to work on business cases and drive operational excellence as well as build contingency supply chain plans.Business operationsThe CFO role is broadening and is increasingly operating more like that of a COO. In mid-sized companies, we are seeing the trend of hiring CFOs with a skillset in strategic planning, procurement, IT and legal. We are witnessing CFOs acting as the second-in-command after the CEO and leading the organisation’s transformation.Environment, social and governance (ESG)Local regulators have strengthened requirements around ESG following concerns about the impact that corporations are having on the environment. As more organisations formulate (and implement) their ESG strategies, there has been an increase in demand for related roles such as ESG reporting specialists, ESG risk officers as well as ESG regulatory reporting roles.Finance transformation and robotic process automation (RPA)More organisations have been embarking on finance transformation initiatives to drive process and system improvements. There continues to be a demand for professionals with demonstrated experience in driving and leading finance transformation projects relating to process improvements.As automation is the key to driving efficiency and effectiveness, we have observed a strong push for robotic process automation (RPA) in finance and transactional accounting work. We find accounting professionals with experience in implementing RPA within a large organisation with a significant number of transactional flows are in high demand.Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)A steady stream of investments in Singapore has led to an increase in M&A transactions this year.We have seen companies making more strategic acquisitions of businesses that are either similar, or upstream or downstream within the same sector. As a result, we have seen an increase in demand for individuals with good experience in M&A/corporate finance function.Enterprise risk managementThe need to manage business risk was brought to the fore during the pandemic. This, coupled with rapidly evolving business, has led to strong demand for candidates with experience in several risk areas such as enterprise risk, business continuity planning risk and other corporate risks functions.​Industries with strong finance hiringReal EstateWe have seen an increase in hiring in the real estate sector. There has been an increase in hiring in M&A and investments functions as real estate firms look into acquiring new assets in the region. There has also been more hiring for corporate reporting and controllership roles within this sector.Healthcare/Pharmaceutical/Medical DeviceHealthcare is another sector with strong hiring activities. Due to high demand in healthcare services, local public healthcare groups and private healthcare service providers had to strengthen their support functions like finance as well as drive finance transformational projects to support the ever-increasing business needs. We also saw a rise in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and life sciences multinationals hiring top finance talent to support and drive commercial decisions in view of a highly competitive business environment as we emerge from the pandemic.TechnologyThe technology industry remains a sector with strong finance hiring in the early part of this year. However, in recent months the industry has seen a string of layoffs in the face of uncertain economic conditions and challenges in fundraising. Nevertheless, there has still been a steady level of hiring activities within the technology infrastructure space.Advanced ManufacturingThe strong demand for 5G, data centres and cloud services has led to a growth in the semiconductors industry. We see a healthy level of hiring within this sector.​​Recruiting for talent: What do candidates look for in a company?Candidates have been a lot more selective in the opportunities they are exploring this year, and this sentiment is expected to continue into 2023. This follows the cautious approach that was taken by a lot of candidates when the pandemic caused an uncertain economic outlook.We have examined the factors that attract candidates to an organisation as they look for new job opportunities. A strong company culture with effective leadership is a critical component in attracting top talent and acts as a magnet to retain good employees. We have also seen companies strengthening their talent retention programmes to retain their top talent. This includes giving attractive long-term incentives as part of the compensation package.1. Higher expectations for compensationCompensation expectations from candidates across Singapore have increased significantly over the last 12 months. This is especially true for candidates with niche skillsets that are highly sought after.2. More flexibility in work arrangementsHybrid work arrangements and flexibility in how and where people work has become the norm since the pandemic. Employees can save time commuting and can manage work more effectively without compromising on their personal time and this is driving demand for flexibility. The future of work will be centered around flexibility and choice. If companies want to attract and retain top talent, employers would need to offer a flexible work model that caters to individual candidate and employee work styles.3. Employee well-beingThe pandemic has reemphasised the importance of employee well-being. It has become an important factor for jobseekers as they feel more valued when their needs are met at all levels including from a mental health as well as financial perspective. We have also found that organisations that have focused on employee mental and emotional well-being have happier and more productive employees.4. Career development and growth opportunitiesCareer development and learning opportunities are key factors that candidates look at in evaluating career opportunities. With the ongoing competition for talent especially for niche roles, this should be favourable news to businesses as it means they can train employees to ensure they have the skillsets required for the future of work. Organisations with comprehensive learning and development programmes, will find it much easier to not just attract, but retain talent. Research from LinkedIn revealed that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if that employer showed commitment to helping them learn.​Looking aheadAmidst a challenging global economic environment, high inflation as well as geopolitical tensions, we anticipate hiring sentiments will be affected in the coming months. More companies may look into restructuring in anticipation of a more challenging global economy. Despite this, there will still be a good demand for finance talent as companies transform and position for growth in the year ahead.​​Recent placementsVP Finance - Market leader in the consumer retail sectorChief Financial Officer - Private equity portfolio company within industrial manufacturingRegional Head of Financial Planning and Analysis - Global technology multinationalDirector of Shared Services - Global consumer goods multinationalFinancial Controller - US renewable energy multinationalFinancial Controller - Global pharmaceutical multinationalFinance Business Partner for Supply Chain - Global medical device multinationalFP&A Manager - Global consumer goods MNCGroup FP&A Manager - Singapore-headquartered FMCG groupFinancial Reporting Manager - US energy solutions multinationalGroup Head of Enterprise Risk Management - SGX-listed company in the technology sectorRegional Internal Audit Manager - US payments technology multinationalManager, Group Governance & Sustainability - Singapore real asset management groupHead of Treasury - European multinationalSenior Manager, Group Tax - SGX-listed company with diversified businessesSenior Manager, Indirect Tax - Global fintech multinationalSenior Manager, Investments - Singapore-headquartered company in the energy solutions sectorAccounts Payable Manager -US life sciences multinational​​Click here to download the full report.
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How employee priorities have shifted in APAC

In contrast to preceding years, employee priorities in the post-COVID-19 era are more holistic and there’s now a big focus on wellness, family, inclusiveness, flexibilty and the opportunity to make a real difference.THE POST-COVID-19 ERA: How and why we have changedThe shift to remote work, which originally started during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has had a huge impact on employee priorities. It showed employees that flexibility on how and where they work was possible.​Intrinsically, jobs now need to fit around employees’ personal lives — and work is just one part of that. Many families saw extra time at home as a positive because they no longer had to commute, and as such, some are reluctant to go back to the office full time. Employees have become more wary of travel assignments, preferring roles based close to home.​Throughout APAC, and during the last few years of on and off lockdowns, many people have been unable to see loved ones abroad or travel freely. This has further reinforced the importance of flexible working, family and well-being to today’s employees. With worries of the pandemic ever-present, it is unsurprising that family time has become so incredibly important which has contributed to the desire for flexibilty.​Employees are actively seeking environments that will improve their well-being, reduce stress and provide more fulfilling work. There’s an increased desire to learn new skills, re-train, go into higher education or even switch careers altogether. In fact, one of the main reasons why people leave their jobs is lack of development options. 94% of people would stay with a company longer if that company showed commitment to helping them learn, research from LinkedIn revealed.​Notably, only two years prior, flexible (or hybrid) working was still a very new concept in Asia. Moreover, mental health and well-being in the workplace were topics only ever explored at a woefully superficial level. The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, helped to showcase the importance of mental health and well-being in the workplace.​The Great Resignation has shown candidates want to take control back; that fundamentally, they want the choice of where and how they work.​FLEXIBLE WORKING: The freedom of choiceBeyond a prescribed few days a week working from home, the main rhetoric from employees and candidates in APAC is that they would like the ability to choose for themselves what works for them. This includes the hours they work, the location and even, to some extent, the country. Some candidates have even started asking their employers if they have policies that will allow them to work abroad for a month or two during the year.​An increasing number of organisations in Asia are now offering a hybrid solution; either across the board or tiered, depending on your job scope or role (i.e. a minimum of two, three or four days a week in the office). Some are writing policy on it and others are working with managers to suggest updated ‘guidelines.’ Some firms have gone one step further to promote fully remote and/or choose for yourself options. Others have closed their offices indefinitely — while at the other extreme, a few companies are insisting on five days a week in the office. These firms have repeatedly cited the need to foster a ‘campus culture’ of learning. They claim this does not happen in silos where teams cannot physically collaborate. A few CEOs have been outspoken with their opinions on the importance of getting back to the office full time.​Although we’re seeing a growing trend for a four-day week across the world, we have yet to see if this will take off in the APAC region.​Work-life balance trumps salaries for jobseekers globally, with 63% of professionals saying it is their priority, ahead of pay and benefits (60%). (Source: LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2022 Report)​​WELL-BEING: Care and compassionRecent reports suggest employees are feeling anxious and burnt out. So, it comes as no surprise to see there has been a collective drive across much of the working world to enhance health and wellness in the workplace. Well-being also has a direct impact on an organisation’s bottom line, as Gallup datashows highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.​More than this, true employee well-being demands the need for empathetic leaders who drive strategies to support both physical and mental health. Some organisations have launched new resiliency programs and others are improving the ones they already have.​Other firms are encouraging initatives like no meetings on Fridays or reduced hours during summer months. One US bank, which has offices throughout APAC, has launched a global policyof 12 weeks’ sabbatical at 25% of base pay (a minimum of 3-5 years of service is required).​The shift from remedial intervention to preventative work focusing on employees’ core health, wellness (and dare we venture, happiness?) is palpable. And employees are quick to jump on board. A recent report from LinkedIn stated: employees “want to work for employers that value their physical and emotional well-being. And they’re ready to walk away from those that don’t.”​EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: Focusing on inclusivity and equalityAs companies take a more holistic approach to employee well-being, leaders are turning to benefits plans. Policies are shifting, with an emphasis to be more inclusive, including recognition for family, same-sex marriage and overall equality.​Employees are expecting medical plans and life insurance policies to cover dependents including same-sex partners where recognized. Several employers are making conscious moves to offer equitable benefits for caregivers with equivalents to paternity as maternity leave. Many include adoption leave and some now cover IVF. Firms are stepping up their medical coverage, including more comprehensive annual checkups. One organisation is even mandating bi-annual checkups; if you fall sick and you’ve had a checkup within two years, the firm may cover medical costs. If you haven’t, your medical bills will only partially be reimbursed. They have saved thousands of dollars in the early detection of serious illnesses. And as a result, it has a healthier workplace with a significant reduction in days lost due to sick leave.​The overall sense is one of choice, equality, non-judgement and transparency. Anecdotally, the number of prospective candidates who are asking more detailed questions on medical coverage has grown exponentially. Many employees are also starting to question whether (and why) medical plans differ for various levels of seniority in their firm.​It is only in fostering an inclusive environment that we can re-imagine and revolutionise working cultures.​RE-IMAGINING CULTURES: Purpose, belonging and connectionMedical benefits alone will not change a company’s culture, nor will flexible working arrangements. True wellness can only come from an inclusive, happy and healthy environment. And it is only in fostering an inclusive environment that we can re-imagine and revolutionise working cultures.​Employees today are prioritising firms that can show their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, their stance around environment, social and governance policies (ESG), their support and involvement with local communities and their genuine ethical practices. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB)is now a key focus in employment branding, and firms are showcasing efforts in recruitment marketing to show its stance to future candidates.​We find ourselves in a unique moment in time — in a real opportunity to re-map the workplace as we know it — to improve working environments and lives with huge upside. For the companies that achieve this, they will be rewarded with long-term retention rates, and ultimately happier and healthier employees.​THE IMPORTANCE OF HARD CASH: Does money still talk?Despite the quest for more holistic workplaces, these policies are not substitutions for the importance of an employee’s monthly paycheck.​Compensation across the globe has increased in the last 12 months – in some cases, exponentially. Anecdotally, candidates asking for 20-25% increase on base has almost become the norm and even 40%. Increases are not unheard of this year. In part, candidates are riding a wave of strong growth in the Asia region, making up for the flat salaries seen over the past few years while simultaneously taking advantage of a talent shortage in the market. More recently, candidates are concerned with how companies will compensate them given inflationary pressures and the increased global cost of living.​However, more importantly is the way we are reviewing the philosophy around compensation. There is much more consideration around salaries as a total comp target number. There’s been a move away from discretionary bonuses, and demand for more transparency is increasing. Many organisations are recognising this and are making adjustments.Furthermore, there is an expectation to pay equitably in line with internal relativities and not peg a candidate’s current salary to the job on offer. As such, some candidates interviewing for roles have started to become more reluctant to share current compensation details with prospective employers – at least, not initially.​Compensation is still a powerful motivator for many and we are finding, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is more important to the younger workforce than more tenured professionals who have had more time to establish themselves and put pennies aside. Likewise, certain countries (where hard cash is still linked to status) prioritise compensation over well-being or flexible work.​As we approach the last quarter of 2022, we’re still seeing high demand for talent, although candidates in the tech industry are seeking higher rewards than usual to balance out the uncertainty surrounding this sector. The uncertainty has largely been fuelled by the layoffs in tech that have been reported over in the US over the past few months.​THE MANY FACES OF ASIA: Insight into China and TokyoCHINAWhile employee motivations are going through a seismic shift across the globe, each country and its citizens carry their own individual motivators, challenges and macro-economic influences.​Despite recent lockdown challenges in China, it is a market still very focused on brand, title and compensation above more holistic benefits. Redundancies of the last year have made employees more risk averse, and as China doesn’t suffer from a talent shortage like the majority of the global workforce, candidates and employees don’t tend to wield as much influence here. In addition, a lot of companies in China expect their employees to work five days a week from the office.​While some candidates may ask about flexibility, rarely would a candidate push back, let alone not accept a job offer should they need to be in the office full time. In stark contrast to the well-being efforts cited earlier, for many companies and employees, ‘996’ is still expected (working 9am- 9pm, six days per week).​It will be interesting to see if external global influences have any impact as we look to the end of 2022 and head into 2023. With increased mental health issues predicted, will companies in China have any inclination to address this? Some MNCs are starting to instil flexible benefits, but it appears to be in the early stages.JAPANSimilar to China, Japan still places great importance on job title, compensation and brand. The career path for employees is important and often very structured. As a male-dominated society, it remains a hierarchical environment to navigate and the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to have changed that. Multinational companies stand out in being more progressive and are certainly making advances to be more inclusive though.​Despite the complexities, Japan has embraced flexible working, particularly in multinational companies, and more like the rest of the world, employees have shown their reluctance to go back to the office five days a week.​Sadly, irrespective of the last few years, mental health and well-being are still not topics openly discussed in Japan. For a country with the highest suicide rate in the world, it so desperately needs to address this increasingly important topic. For now, Japan remains a country intent on maintaining ‘gaman,’ the Japanese word for ‘enduring the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience’. We can only hope that in time, HR departments play their part to drive change and raise awareness for colleagues who may be suffering in silence.​In SumAs Asia strives forward to embrace the new world of work, it is paramount that companies understand employee priorities and do what they can to adapt and evolve with the times. While each country in Asia is unique with its own challenges and concerns, there is a common goal to enjoy our personal lives as much as our working ones – and the companies that assist employees to achieve this will undoubtedly be the ones that will retain their staff for the long run. With a global shortage of talent continuing to loom ahead, can employers really afford not to adapt?​
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The right prescription: Healthcare industry trends in APAC

INTRODUCTIONAPAC’s healthcare sector has evolved rapidly over the past few years, largely driven by shifting consumer expectations and innovation in technology. The COVID-19 pandemic also, unsurprisingly, intensified demand for healthcare services, including consumer healthcare.​43.5% of shoppers in China have reportedly spent more on their health in the past 12 months, while 23.1% said they are spending more on nutrition. (Source: McKinsey)​However, demand for talent in all healthcare sectors including pharmaceuticals, healthcare services, MedTech and lifesciences, currently outstrips supply and could hamper growth in the sector.​There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Chinese conglomerates and global companies with facilities in China looking to hire outside of the country. Many have, or are in the process of, moving their ASEAN HQs to Singapore because the region has more access to skilled talent, a thriving healthcare ecosystem, attractive tax incentives from the government and connectivity with the fast-growing Asia market.​In addition, increasing numbers of organisations are now looking outside the healthcare industry to fill open roles. Candidates outside the sector are generally open to exploring healthcare opportunities because it gives them the chance to make a meaningful impact on society, which is a key driver for many jobseekers considering a career move.​Despite the uncertainty and risks stemming from the Ukraine/Russia conflict, China’s slowing growth and interest rate hikes in advanced economies to tame inflation, Singapore’s economic recovery is continuing. Growth, however, is forecasted at a lower rate, 3.7%, this year compared to 7.6% last year, figures from the International Monetary Fund revealed.​We are seeing momentum pick up in the number of global healthcare organisations that are consolidating portfolios, acquiring technologies and/or companies to complement their business portfolios. We have also seen companies spinning off or divesting businesses to focus on their core organisations. Several companies in the MedTech space are undergoing restructuring as well. This has led to a two-tier structure in hiring in the region - some employers are aggressively hiring while others are more cautious.​APAC’s CANDIDATE-DRIVEN MARKETThe global pandemic has accelerated the talent crunch by a significant degree. We see a greater intensity in the competition for talent in a post-pandemic world. Top talent has more bargaining power than ever before and candidates are more selective when it comes to career choices. Although still an important driver for candidates, salary is no longer the top consideration among those considering a career move. However, after bonus pay-outs earlier this year, many employers re-negotiated with employees and offered above-the-norm salary increments, long term incentives and attractive retention bonuses in a bid to retain staff.​Broadly speaking, there are two groups of candidates right now. One group is looking for job stability and career development, while the other is seeking the rapid innovation typically seen in healthcare startups. There has been a rise in the number of candidates open to relocation opportunities too, which will be useful to employers located in areas with small talent pools. The talent market is highly competitive in APAC right now, especially for unicorn talent or those with niche skillsets.​Salary is no longer the top consideration among those considering a career move.​INDUSTRY TRENDSHEALTHCARE SERVICE PROVIDERSThe pandemic intensified demand for healthcare service providers and Asia’s aging population is also adding pressure to the tight labour market. More hospitals and clinics are now developing personalised treatments and home therapies to navigate the difficulties patients have visiting hospitals and clinics due to social distancing or regional lockdowns.​Remote healthcare and telehealth are continuing to drive growth in the sector and will continue to do so, especially in the regions that are still being impacted by pandemic-related lockdowns. In addition, there has also been an increased focus on mental health, which was undoubtedly caused by the stress of living through a global pandemic and the periods of uncertainty experienced over the last couple of years. Demand for mental health services among consumers throughout Asia is expected to continue.​Countries in South-East Asia need to redouble efforts to strengthen and expand their nurse and midwife capacity by 1.9 million to achieve health for all by 2030. (Source: World Health Organization)​LIFESCIENCES AND PHARMACEUTICALSDigital health impacts more than a billion lives and according to estimates, digital health in Asia could collectively create up to $100bn in value by 2025, up from $37bn in 2020. (Source: McKinsey)​​The lifesciences industry will continue to play a significant role in managing the global endemic and future pandemics. There has been substantial growth and investment in cell and gene therapies and in the molecular diagnostics space. Strong growth in molecular diagnostics is fueled by the increase in PCR testing over the past 2 years and other key sectors such as blood screening and detection of infectious diseases, among others. Companies within molecular diagnostics are looking to increase R&D to enable early disease diagnosis. And in drug development, there’s a significant focus on mRNA vaccine development for infectious diseases along with continuous drug development in personalised treatments, especially in the areas of oncology and neuroscience. Pharmaceutical companies are busy developing cost-effective drugs and treatments to improve affordability for patients, while clinical trials have also been accelerated.​The pharmaceutical market in China is now the second largest in the world (with the first largest being the US), research from Statista revealed. In a bid to move into global markets, many organisations have shifted their focus to research and development (R&D). However, this transition requires approval from foreign agencies such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK, the American Food and Drug Administration and such, which greatly complicates the process.​MEDTECHElective surgeries were put on hold across most of Asia throughout the pandemic. As a result, some companies have gone through restructuring, while others have implemented hiring freezes to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic. As the borders continue to open in the various countries, we are seeing a rise in momentum on elective surgeries and a growth in medical tourism.​In China, MedTech companies are benefiting from government policy that is designed to encourage growth among local companies and many have been expanding their product lines as a result of R&D.​Innovation in the sector, namely digitalisation, has played a significant role in driving sales. One of the big challenges is the regulatory environment, especially for multinational companies which have multiple regulations that they must adhere to.On a positive note, the MedTech talent market in China is stable right now. One trend that is gaining momentum in the region is the migration of management professionals who are now seeking opportunities in local companies as they can see the increased opportunities for growth. However, junior and middle-level candidates still prefer to work for multinational companies and are staying put.​The rapid growth in healthcare means many talent acquisition leaders are struggling to define future skills needs. Strategic workforce planning is growing in popularity as a result.​HOT SKILLS ACROSS APACDigitalisation and innovation:Digital skills are highly sought after in healthcare. There has been a slew of technological developments from robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain. Big data and analytics are also advancing and are playing an integral role in R&D within the industry. For example, data scientists are using advanced algorithms to gather information from a vast range of sources, including industry websites, data libraries and so on. The sheer scale of data within the industry is also playing a role in its growth as data experts must manage, review and analyse gigantic databases.Cloud technology:Companies are seeking talented individuals with a strong understanding of the wider healthcare landscape and technical capabilities to connect data and use it to address health conditions.Customer journey experience:Candidates with customer journey experience are highly sought after. Organisations are looking for candidates who can take an inside-out approach to give employees the best experience, which will naturally lead to a greater experience to customers.Regulatory and compliance:As companies look to improve their systems and process flows within the industry, applicants experienced in regulation and compliance are highly sought after. In addition, more organisations in healthcare are practising environmental, societal and governance (ESG) business practise. They want to build sustainable businesses for local communities, so candidates with experience in ESG are in demand.Salesforce excellence:In the wake of the pandemic, there has still been difficulty surrounding in-person meetings and visiting clients. Companies have been re-inventing the approach to outreach and sales professionals, as a result, must have digital skills.Digital marketing:Omni channel marketing experience in the healthcare industry is becoming increasingly important. Candidates with the skillsets to create unified messages across multiple channels to provide a seamless customer experience are in high demand.Research & development and laboratory management:More diagnostic laboratories have been set up over the past couple of years to meet the needs of PCR testing for infectious diseases and serve the development of vaccines and biologics in Singapore. There has been a good increase in demand for professionals with lab management experience.​Candidates that can act as change agents and have the ability to multitask in a hybrid environment are in demand in APAC, particularly in China.​RECRUITING FOR TALENT: WHAT DO CANDIDATES LOOK FOR IN A COMPANY?The employment landscape across APAC has evolved more in the past few years than in the last decade, so employers must continuously seek new and creative ways to motivate and incentivize employees and candidates alike. We have outlined some of the most popular employee expectations below:​Flexible work arrangements: Many employees worked remotely for the first time in their careers during the onset of the pandemic and were able to get an improved work-life balance as a result. Many have proven that they are as productive, or even more productive working from home. Many companies in APAC have already implemented hybrid working arrangements. The future of work will be centered around flexibility and choice. If companies want to attract and retain top talent, it is important to offer a flexible work model that caters to candidates’ and employees’ work styles and productivity.​Financial rewards and employee wellness programmes: Top candidates are juggling multiple job offers, and some are being offered high salary increases to join new companies. Salary benchmarking, using real-time labour data, can help employers ensure the salary and benefits they offer are competitive to ensure they don’t lose out on top talent. There is also an increase in expectations for companies to support employees’ well-being. Companies that provide attractive and well-thought-out employee wellness programs will be at a significant advantage in attracting top candidates and retaining talented employees.​Career development and growth opportunities: A recurring theme among most industries in APAC, not just healthcare, is the desire to learn and develop. Organisations that provide comprehensive L&D programmes will find it easier to attract and retain talent. And upskilling programmes also give companies access to future skills, which is much needed given the pace of innovation and digitisation in the healthcare industry.​To make an impact to society: Healthcare is one of the few industries that by default allows workers to make a real impact to society. A sense of purpose is very much a motivator for many candidates, so companies that give people the chance to make a real difference, should showcase this in their recruitment marketing.​RECENT PLACEMENTSCHINAChinese Biopharmaceutical CompanyPlant General ManagerStrategic Cooperation Senior ManagerAsian Healthcare Services ProviderChina Medical DirectorOphthalmologistEuropean Medical Device CompanySenior Business Operations ManagerMarketing Associate DirectorMedical DirectorSenior Distributor Management ManagerChinese In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) CompanySenior GA ManagerUS Biotechnology CompanySupply Chain DirectorChinese Pharmaceutical CompanyHead of Strategy and Business DevelopmentUS Pharmaceutical CompanyClinical Trial Manager, Asia PacificAsian Pharmaceutical MultinationalPortfolio & Product Management ManagerSINGAPOREGlobal Pharmaceutical CompanySenior Regional Commercial Manager, Consumer HealthcareQuality Operations ManagerProcess and Projects ManagerHead of Business ExcellenceGlobal Life Science CompanyRegional Marketing DirectorManager, Technical Services & SupportTechnical Application Specialist III, Genetics AnalysisSingaporean Hospital GroupHead, Service Culture and Training DevelopmentDirector, Finance Systems and Program Management​Singaporean Healthcare Service ProviderCentre DirectorSenior Manager, Strategy & TransformationUS Medical Equipment CompanyProduct ManagerGlobal Biotechnology CompanyIT DirectorAustralian Med Tech CompanyProgram DirectorSingaporean R&D CompanyScientist, Antibody DiscoveryUS Medical Device CompanyRegional Training ManagerAustralian Consumer Health CompanyNational Sales ManagerKEY CONTACTSThe demand for healthcare talent will continue to grow both for the foreseeable future – and beyond. Speak with our experienced consultants today to learn more.​China Offices: please contact Cherry Zhu, Wayne Wang or Jane ZhangSingapore Office: please contact Yvonne Goh, Jolene Lee or Cassia Seah​Click here to download the full report.
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Visiting Japan in 2022: An interview with Andrew Oliver

As we continue to adapt to COVID-19's ever-changing tune, those of us in Japan welcomed recent news that the world's third-largest economy may begin to open again.​It's good news. Last year, those of us who needed to go home could either leave, but not get back, or jump through Olympic-level bureaucratic hoops to return. Now, locals and permanent residents can travel with relatively minimal requirements. More recently, people are allowed to visit family members in Japan (again, with considerable hoop-jumping required). Talks around carefully controlled tour groups being allowed visitation in the summer are happening.​At the Profile Tokyo office, we’re seeing clients returning. In May, one client who retained us on a recent search flew to Japan to meet a handful of top candidates. There was also another visitor – Profile's very own Managing Director, Andrew Oliver!​Andrew visited the team for the first time since the Japan office opened. We sat down to discuss his trip to Japan, his hopes for the business here and his experience visiting Tokyo.​​Q: Is this your first trip to Japan?A: I visited previously on a business trip at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic. It’s safe to say a lot has changed since then! I've stopped through a few times to go skiing and visited once to meet with a prospective business partner. So, it’s the second time for business and the first time since we've established our own business here.​It's great to travel again and see people face-to-face. Especially in Japan, where I’ve gotten to meet and connect with the Tokyo team for the first time.Q: How did you find the logistics of getting here?A: It was a little complicated, but I had great help from Yuko (Profile Tokyo's Office Manager). There was a lot of paperwork, but the trip overall was excellent. I landed in Haneda, which was a great experience. Very smooth compared to a somewhat unpleasant and stressful experience than when I flew back to Europe.​Within two hours of touching down, I was in my hotel. The staff in the airport were great, and when I had an issue with the language, a friendly local stepped in to help.Q: What have you been up to since you arrived?​A: I purposely arrived on Friday to have time to adjust and deal with jetlag. I then took a walk, visited a few places – Shibuya crossing, got a photo – and had some great sushi at the hotel.Q: Name some things you ate during your stay?A: Some toro, some octopus, miso, a handroll with toro and scallions, and washed it all down with a couple of Suntorys. I liked it so much I went back the next day! I also ate some ramen in Roppongi at a nice little booth at the counter and a pork-based soup with minced pork and egg. I also visited Hie Shrine near the hotel and took a few more photos. I basically enjoyed being a tourist! It’s been a fantastic experience; Tokyo is such a great cityQ: Has Tokyo changed since your last visit?A: It's difficult to escape COVID-19's impact. Of course, my experience being a visitor is very different compared to locals, but it feels like I've arrived in spring. Everything seems fine. It feels as though people are ready to get back to normal. Although things are vastly different, it feels like there’s a reset and an eagerness to push on. ​Aside from that, there's that overwhelming sense of a mix of chaos and calm in Japan. It can be quite discombobulating as a foreigner, but it's calm because everyone is so nice. Of course, the big difference from the last time I was here is the COVID-19 side – but clearly, things are opening, which feels very positive.Q: What are your thoughts on Japan business wise?A: It is hugely exciting. We always had a long-term view, and Japan was part of the plan. The time and effort going into China slowed down the entry here. You could say we were a little bit late to the party. But we’re here now, and clients in Hong Kong, Singapore and China are already excited to hear about our Tokyo office. And, going forward, our WilsonHCG business will also utilize our expertise here.​Japan is a huge market. There is a ton of potential, which is why it was so important for me to be here to meet the team and interview potential new hires to extend our offering into Financial Service. The RPO business is expanding in Tokyo. And when the borders open more, and we all become more mobile, we will want people to come over and spend time here. It’s also important to get the Japan team over to our more established regions to meet clients there. Connectivity is so important. These are exciting times, but not particularly easy. But we have zero regrets for doing it at a tough time – we have a solid team here and lots of good vibes.Q: Finally, Japan has a reputation for being a bit weird. Any strange or unusual experiences here?A: Apart from the chicken cartilage (that the Tokyo team insisted I eat during our team meal), not really! I'm no Japan expert, but I did have some expectations, which have been exceeded. You forget how nice and polite everyone is. And it's just so good to meet everyone in person for a change! Food and drink make the world go round! There has been a lot of introspection on the changes we've been through over the last two and a half years, so it's great reconnecting face-to-face with people and finding out how things operate locally here. There is opportunity in adversity. I'm proud to be with so many amazing team members — it feels like our business is going through an awakening as Japan opens back up once more. This fills me with hope.​–––––––––––––––––​Looking to hire in Japan? Contact our executive search team in Tokyo.From labour laws and compliance to the increasingly candidate-driven market, it can be difficult to find qualified candidates in Japan to fit your growing business. Our experienced team of consultants in Tokyo can help you navigate the challenges and complexities of the Japanese market, and attract and hire top senior leaders to drive your organisation forward.​​​
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2022 Singapore Family Office Market Report

The complexities and globalisation of financial and capital markets, coupled with the evolution of technology have brought about an onset of growing opportunities for asset owners and investors alike who continue to seek new investment opportunities to generate wealth and asset growth.​In this report, we seek to share our observations across one group of investors and asset owners- single-family offices (SFOs).​In APAC, there’s been a surge in ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families — bringing an increased demand to hire single-family offices in Singapore to manage, grow, and preserve their wealth and assets. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the number of family offices in the region rose five-fold between 2017 and 2019. And there’s currently no sign of this momentum slowing down.Number of family offices set up in Singapore from 2017 to 2020 (Source: Illumine Advisory)In 2020, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament indicated SFO numbers have reached 200, with industry research estimating assets from each family exceeding US $100M. This projects total SFO assets management in the Republic to be around US $20B. As a result, we’ve seen a consistent and growing demand for talent in this area. So, what are family offices looking for in candidates? ​WHAT ARE FAMILY OFFICES LOOKING FOR? ​EMBODY AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSETSince SFO teams are lean, they usually require all hands on deck. Top-tier candidates are ones who enlist a solution-oriented mindset; can work quickly; and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This direct method of portfolio management and investment has been highly sought after, especially as many look to re-evaluate investments for the generational change of wealth.​​SHOWCASE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE Whether it’s expertise in investments, an industry-oriented trade, legal or HR, candidates demonstrating skills with real-world examples of how their knowledge has made an impact will differentiate them from the average person. SFOs are seeking candidates with subject matter expertise who are adaptable and ready for change. It’s important, therefore, to own your domain confidently in order to gain full trust. ​​COMMUNICATE LONG-TERM ASSET PRESERVATION Candidates aren’t only competing with other candidates here — they’re also competing with investment teams who may include the next generation of family members wanting to manage their own wealth. This could either be to build their careers for managing third-party wealth later or to simply be more involved in the financial infrastructure. When working with a family office, it’s a long-term setup that institutionalises the holding structure for the entire family’s assets and facilitates succession planning. As the one implementing a framework, it’s been shown many are preferring simpler and leaner financial structures. This makes joining an SFO even more competitive, so candidates should prepare for the interpersonal effects caused by these financial structures being put into place as well as how it will be shaped for the long term. ​​EMPHASISE ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL & GOVERNANCE (ESG) MODELS Over the last few years, we have observed that the next generation of asset owners who are taking over the decision-making process are prioritising the commitment to managing portfolios that are environmentally and socially conscious. Candidates with experience in ESG and sustainability have been sought after as family offices seek to adopt a more sustainable and multi-generational approach to their wealth planning. Understanding and aligning values in accordance with philanthropic efforts are key to succeeding in this growing industry. This includes allocating families’ wealth into newer, more innovative ways for a positive impact, including gender balance and sustainability. This open-minded route for investment teams with gender-balanced leadership has been shown to outperform according to a co-written Catalyst at Large report. This also fosters purpose and community between family members — so candidates for SFOs play a pivotal role in helping build a legacy and stewardship in the family’s wealth. ​WHAT ARE SFO CANDIDATES LOOKING FOR? ​ACCESS TO DECISION MAKERS FASTER Candidates accustomed to working in larger, more bureaucratic organisations outside of Singapore want the ability to be near decisionmakers and have answers in real time. This can be challenging with some legal counsel and compliance who may prefer the governance and regulatory frameworks granted from larger companies. ​​INPUT ON SHAPING THE INVESTMENT FRAMEWORK Investment professionals enjoy the opportunity to be directly involved helping the family shape their strategy. This includes advising in the areas of wealth structuring, family administration, personal travel and investment management to bring the benefits of a structured and thoughtful wealth plan. Candidates want their fair shot at being changemakers as globalisation continues to spread across Asia, North America and Europe. ​​MINIMISED BUREAUCRATIC WORK Candidates are keen to handle fewer stakeholders in their day-to-day work. With family offices, the bureaucratic red tape is considerably smaller, ensuring they won’t have to manage multiple stakeholders across the globe. Singapore’s strong legal and financial infrastructure uniquely positions it for both single family offices and multifamily offices. We expect to see increasing demand for candidates across both the investment and support functions for family offices. ​​RECENT PLACEMENTSCIO - Asia Single Family OfficeCIO, Private Markets - Asia Single Family OfficeHead of Fixed Income - Asia Single Family OfficeHead of Real Estate - Asia Single Family OfficeHead of RE Asset Management - Asia Single Family OfficeSenior Quantitative Analyst - Asia Single Family OfficePortfolio Manager, Healthcare - Single Family Office CFO - Asia Single Family OfficeFinance Director - Asia Single Family OfficeInvestment Director - Asia Single Family OfficeDirector Compliance - Asia Single Family OfficeAssociate Director, Legal - Multi Family OfficeAssociate Director, Compliance - Multi Family Office​​KEY CONTACTSInfrastructure - please contact James RushworthCommerce - please contact Yvonne GohFront Office - please contact Stanley Teo Front Office - please contact Rachel Liu Legal & Compliance - please contact Suan Wei Yeo Human Resources - please contact Amanda Cowley
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Hiring in Japan: Getting it right in 2022

While 2021 saw companies in Hong Kong and Singapore pressured to re-adjust hiring strategies to meet candidate-driven market challenges, here in Tokyo, this has always been the norm, and last year was no different. While hiring levels increased from 2020, we didn’t experience the great resignation as witnessed elsewhere. Japanese market conditions at the beginning of 2021 were uncertain due to the slow vaccination rollout. However, confidence slowly returned, and by the end of the year, almost 78% of the population had been fully vaccinated. The economic recovery was relatively weak and suffered from subdued private consumption, a Delta variant spike in the summer and supply chain and procurement challenges for semiconductors for digital goods and the automotive industry. Japan’s unemployment rate remained stable, dropping slightly from 3% in January 2021 to 2.7% by the end of the year. Currently, the job to application ratio is 1.15, meaning there are 115 job openings for every 100 job seekers. Through 2021 the highest levels of hiring activity were seen across the IT, e-commerce, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, while the retail, hospitality and automotive sectors continued to struggle. There was renewed appetite for senior sales & marketing, HR and finance professionals which was driven by companies looking to upgrade key positions within their leadership teams as well as senior candidates leveraging the market by moving onto new opportunities. There was also an unprecedented need for talent acquisition professionals in Tokyo as many firms realized they were behind the competition in recruitment expertise and attempted to strengthen their capabilities. Traditionally, recruiting functions here have been overly administrative with little emphasis on strategy, however, those who attempted to make the transition to a more strategic function struggled to find qualified candidates with the necessary experience and knowledge. Although Japan has always been a candidate-driven market, increased client demand last year further squeezed talent availability. At the mid and senior ends of the market, candidates received multiple job offers, making it difficult for companies to hire their preferred candidate. The firms that were the most successful in hiring understood the market conditions surrounding the available talent pool and put in place strategies to ensure they got ahead of the competition. Other firms who failed to do this in their recruiting strategies had positions open six months or longer.​Positive business outlook for 2022Despite the new Omicron variant spreading, overall business sentiment remains positive for 2022, with the government forecasting the economy to grow by 3.2%. As supply chain issues lessen, we will see increased levels of production and a rise in exports which will contribute to greater corporate investment. Client sentiment is also positive for the year ahead and we foresee an increase in demand for qualified bilingual professionals. To ensure businesses thrive, retention and attraction strategies will be more vital than ever, and as we move through the year, it will become apparent which companies have invested in such strategies and those who have not. Although the discussion on this topic has been held again and again, there has never been a more critical time to get it right.Support flexible working arrangementsWith most foreign-affiliated companies in Japan having had an almost fully remote or hybrid working arrangement since the pandemic started, the year ahead will raise new retention and attraction challenges as companies look to return to offices. A lot of firms are already facing resistance from employees who do not wish to return to pre-covid conditions and maintain at the very least a hybrid working arrangement. These employees do not want to give up the well-being and quality of life they have gained through the time saved on long daily commuting times. Firms that lack a clear and flexible policy around WFH will not only lose key talent but also find they are positioning themselves out of the market to hire new employees and will be left with a weakened employment brand. When discussing new opportunities with candidates at all levels, flexible working arrangements are now as important as salary and career progression. Broaden the ideal candidate profileIn an increasingly competitive market, more flexibility should be shown around age and experience levels. Too often we see clients who are overly rigid around their preferred profile and miss out on an untapped potential pool of qualified and talented candidates. With Japan’s ageing population, such flexibility will eventually become a necessity.Robust and speedy interview processesInterview processes that focus on both candidate assessment and candidate experience are essential to retention and attraction. We’ve seen clients repeatedly lose out to other companies because of prolonged and drawn-out interview processes. That, or candidates drop out due to a poor interview experience. Companies who focus on quality and can expedite processes when needed will always come out on top.Invest in learning and developmentEmployees feel appreciated when given opportunities to improve their skills, and companies who invest in development will see lowered attrition rates. One area many firms struggle with is training managers in leadership and best practice performance management. Often, managers in Japan do not want to show perceived favouritism, a practice which backfires when employees feel they have been undervalued and leave to go somewhere they feel they will be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.Prioritize compensation and benefitsAlong with benefits such as flexible working, compensation levels remain one of the most important motivating factors for employee engagement and retention. As candidate demand increases, up-to-date benchmarking will be a necessity to stay competitive.  Additionally, companies needing to make crucial hires must exercise flexibility around salary ranges, otherwise, they will lose out to competitors who are willing to exceed market levels.  ​We've got a wealth of experience hiring on the ground and can help. If you would like to discuss hiring in the Japanese market, please contact Jonathan Hughes.  ​​ 
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The Even Greater Resignation

The Even Greater Resignation Coming to an Asian job market near you...and how to win The Great Retention battleUnless you’ve been in quarantine for the past 12 months without access to TV, Wi-Fi, mail or phone, you may have noticed that job markets in Asia were red-hot last year, which was partly fueled by economic rebounds across the region.This was particularly the case in Hong Kong and Singapore where a marked uptick in hiring began in February. The China market simply continued its strong trajectory from the year before, but from April things seemed to pick up a notch. Recruitment companies of all shapes and sizes have had record years and, within many companies, plenty of new faces replaced departing ones.   Well, hold onto your hats because the talent acquisition bull run isn’t over yet. Prepare yourself for The Great Resignation 2.0. With bonuses being paid over the next month or so many people who didn’t make a move last year will be looking to jump ship. Traditionally, Q2 is when global job markets typically reach their peak and this year will be no different, except with plenty of added sauce. There are various factors coming together to create the continuation of this perfect storm. Talent is about to become even more difficult to find.Apart from the continuance of the economic rebound and increasing business confidence, which will ensure a robust pipeline of jobs, there continues to be dissatisfaction among professionals with their employers in Asia. In fact, many have one foot out the door. Various surveys have suggested most hiring over the last year was to do with replacing employees, more so than business growth. But as we go through 2022, both will heavily feature as causes.Unfortunately, companies have become complacent, and many have neglected their retention strategies over the last two years and, on top of this, the pool of available talent is shrinking rapidly.Talent pool bluesThere are a lack of professionals coming into markets like Singapore, Japan, mainland China and especially Hong Kong due to the effects of the pandemic. In some markets strong talent has been leaving permanently as a result of visas not being renewed, difficulties in flying overseas to see loved ones in their home countries, as well as, in the case of Hong Kong, negative perceptions of what the future holds. These trends will only continue to gather momentum this year."It has become incredibly difficult to find strong talent and many high-performing employees are being targeted regularly by headhunters. If salary increases or bonuses aren’t up to scratch, these calls will be taken more seriously."As a result of what has transpired so far, job markets are showing signs of stress. Salaries are going up and expectations of robust hikes to move to a new company are far higher than even six months ago. In some functional areas it has become incredibly difficult to find top talent and many high-performing employees are being targeted regularly by headhunters. If salary increases or bonuses aren’t up to scratch, these calls will be taken more seriously.Companies are also ‘buying back’ employees that resign, offering large increases in base salary and promises of bigger jobs and titles. Jobseekers are interviewing with numerous organisations at the same time, receiving multiple offers and, with it, their compensation expectations are rising. These are common enough occurrences in a hot job market, but I haven’t seen this volume in my 24 years working as a headhunter in Asia, and more is to come.  Continental comparisonsThe Great Resignation in North America and Europe has been well documented. It has partly been fueled by employee sentiment that remote working has made moving jobs easier than in pre-pandemic times. No physical relocation is required for many job moves and people can now access thousands of new roles which were previously off-limits geographically. But this has been less of a factor in Asia as the uptake of working from home (WFH) has been less than on other continents. Some companies have voiced an openness to base roles in other cities in Asia, but this has been rare, and ultimately the original location for the role has won over.What is happening though in Asia, which mirrors another contributing factor for The Great Resignation in North America and Europe, is people wanting to move on from organisations where they have experienced an unhealthy work-life balance and toxic work culture. Many have simply been feeling burnt out having not taken much time off. And because colleagues have been working non-stop, that has put pressure on others to just keep working too, leading to a vicious circle of exhaustion. Retention neglectionLike I mentioned earlier, many organisations have neglected their retention strategies over the last couple of years and CEOs have not been listening to their employees, many of whom have voted with their feet. HR functions had outlined this as a risk, but many CEOs didn’t heed their warnings. Some companies have reacted to changing candidate expectations in recent months and have turned on the charm offensive, but for others it’s ‘too little too late’ with true colours having already been exposed.Last year, many people were able to step off the never-ending hamster wheel (for a brief moment) and, upon reflection, decided that they didn’t want to get back on. This might have led to a career break, a change in lifestyle or a new career. This phenomenon is being led by Millennials and Generation Z and, in China, was seen through the rise of the ‘tang ping’ movement with young workers reacting against the 996 working hours/rat race system. These trends will only become more established as we head through 2022, further disrupting talent pools.Just as in Europe and North America, professionals in Asia who are moving organisations are leaving to join better companies that they perceive to genuinely care more about their employees and have more positive, respectful cultures. Research by consulting firm The Josh Bersin Company found that only one in seven companies in the US would fall under this bracket of, what they term, “irresistible organisations"This rise in expectations of what people want from employers was happening pre-pandemic but the last two years has acted as a catalyst and sped up this trend exponentially. People are expecting more."This rise in expectations of what people want from employers was happening pre-pandemic but the last two years has acted as a catalyst and sped up this trend exponentially. People are expecting more. During the worst moments of the pandemic, people worried about their health and their loved ones. They were also concerned about the impact the pandemic would have on their finances. As a result, there’s now an expectation that a good employer should help to alleviate such concerns and offer support. Many employees are basically leaving to go somewhere with a positive culture where they feel this support and, in effect, are more valued. What can leaders and organisations do?​CEOs need to be far more engaged with their company’s talent strategy. Many say that talent is their top priority but from my experience not many walk the talk.Leaders should assume every employee is looking for better opportunities. Employee engagement programmes need to be ramped up and the focus of managers needs to be on listening and supporting their staff. Empathy is critical. Career progression and succession planning need to be taken more seriously and time and money need to be invested. Internal mobility needs to be facilitated through upskilling staff. Retention is key given the cost of talent acquisition (take Amazon for example, which spent around $4 billion USD on hiring in Q4 last year) as well as the cost of lost productivity. Research suggests it takes between six and nine months to onboard someone to be fully effective).​Far more attention needs to be given to employer branding. Your reputation in the market counts for a lot when it comes to hiring. Word can easily get around within Tokyo, Shanghai or Singapore and, if staff are heading for the exit, people will know about it. Talent acquisition processes need to be far slicker. It astounds me how many companies still fall short in this department with hiring processes leaving a trail of appalling candidate experiences. Long gaps between interviews, interviewers not being adequately trained, prepared or joined up and interview processes that drag on for weeks with too many interviewers involved are all putting candidates off. A lack of respect and compassion for candidates can have dire consequences too - peeved candidates will talk to each other about their experiences. Onboarding processes have been found to be lacking in many organisations too - not a great start to retaining talent in a hot job market.More investment needs to be put into well-designed benefits programmes including well-being programs and digital tools to improve workplace productivity and wellness. Working from home is definitely here to stay and companies that don’t recognise this and offer flexibility will suffer the consequences. Research from late last year conducted by three economists, Barrero, Bloom and Davis, pointed to an average of 1.3 days a week being spent working from home in a post-pandemic world. This number is 25% higher than when the question was asked 12 months prior, so it might rise even further over time although, as mentioned in this and previous articles, professionals in Asia are less attracted to WFH compared to other regions. Listening to individuals is key. Ensuring staff are taking time off as holiday is essential as well. Many have neglected to take them over the last two years and this needs to change. Last year, LinkedIn shut down for a week to force people to have a break and Nike gave their employees a mental health week off in August.  "Organisational attractiveness is a high-level C-suite leadership issue. Retention and talent engagement can’t continue to be an agenda point that is left for HR to champion and push uphill." Organisational attractiveness is a high-level, C-suite leadership issue. Although some things will return to normal, like the ability to travel and be geographically mobile, I feel this issue of organisational attractiveness is here to stay. The next generation of leaders will learn that taking care of employees will become a key priority of what they do. Simply put, retention and talent engagement can’t continue to be an agenda point that is left for HR to champion and push uphill.  ​
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APAC Sales & Marketing Market Insights 2021

INTRODUCTIONThe APAC region has long been recognised as a high-growth environment for many investors and corporations and that hasn’t changed despite the pandemic. The market experienced a sudden jolt in 2020, which had a varying impact on many companies and industries. For some, the glass was half empty, while for others, the glass was half full. The most significant impact of COVID-19 is the accelerated digital transformations of many businesses throughout 2021.The most common and necessary pivot among organisations is the ability to shift their business models from offline to digital. For the companies that are already entrenched in the internet eco-system, the challenges are to cope effectively with the surge in demand among the B2B and B2C audiences for better services and delivery of goods. The online world has also further ingrained itself in the lives of the population, with remote working opportunities now a key driver for candidates and employees alike.Confidence in the region is high, and 2022 looks like it will be a year of growth, provided the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues and surges are controlled. In this report, we will look at the key trends observed in the sales & marketing recruitment space and the factors influencing sales & marketing professionals across the region.HONG KONGAs we edge closer to the new year, the business landscape in Hong Kong is looking positive, with a rise in the number of companies opting to open offices in the region. However, there is still an air of apprehension because of travel restrictions and potential outbreaks of COVID-19. In the last 12 months, record numbers of people have left Hong Kong, shrinking the talent pool considerably.Hiring activity is robust despite the crippling skills shortages. Demand for experienced sales & marketing professionals, particularly in executive to vice president/director roles, is high in the region. It is worth noting that interview processes are slightly more robust and lengthier than in previous years, so although there is an appetite to hire, there is also an overriding desire to get it right.HOT SKILLSEntrepreneurship:Hong Kong is a leading destination for start- ups in APAC and is recognised globally. We have seen a real need for candidates with entrepreneurial mindsets who can change direction quickly or pivot depending on the needs of the company. Candidates willing and able to take on more than what is written in their job descriptions will do well in these types of fast-growing organisations, as will the ability to lead without title. Ownership, whether it’s a short project to launch a new feature or take a product into a new market, is something that clients are looking for, as well as having the passion to develop something from scratch.Digital marketing:The demand for digital marketing skills continues to increase, especially for candidates with experience in eCommerce and online marketplaces. As the shift from offline to online continues, senior marketing candidates who have experience in both sectors are highly sought after. And many companies with open sales & marketing roles in Hong Kong are seeking candidates that have experience within APAC as well as European and North American marketplaces.Buy-side selling experience:Sales & marketing candidates with a track record of selling to buy-side financial institutions are highly sought after right now.Team leadership experience:Sales leaders are in high demand, particularly those who have experience managing and coaching teams and can lead from the front with client ownership and deals.JAPANAs always, Japan faces one of the highest skills gaps in the world when it comes mid-to-senior level talent. In addition to the traditionally low levels of English fluency and exposure to international business methods, the talent pool for international businesses is even more competitive than ever at a time when everyone is looking for a change maker. There has also been significant movement in the jobs market in Japan in 2021 as a result of the shift in working styles brought by COVID-19, and more and more candidates are aware of just how many options are open to them.Many people have taken on new roles so they can work remotely. The desire to work virtually was rare pre-pandemic; however, people have seen how it can help to improve work-life balance. People no longer want to attend long repetitive meetings or spend time commuting during the subway rush hour crush. Business leaders are starting to buy into the new world of work, which in turn challenges many of the archaic practices in more traditional Japanese business (a continuing reliance on fax machines, company seals on official documents etc.).There has been a rise in the number of employers offering a hybrid approach to work – allowing employees to split their working hours between the office and home. This has been most welcomed by employees. Companies that have adopted, or are planning to adopt, a hybrid approach will find it easier to attract talent. We are also seeing people leave jobs in more traditional industries for agile and tech-driven roles and companies and a move to more online driven activities. There’s been a marked increase in digital marketing and video advertising spends and a focus on ramping up ecommerce capabilities and presence.HOT SKILLSDigital strategy and execution:Sales & marketing candidates with experience in helping retailers change direction from brick-and- mortar stores to digital have been in high demand for several years. However, the pandemic has meant such experience is even more sought after than before. Many of the giant Japanese retailers suffered historic losses during the early stages of the pandemic and may not recover. Department stores could become a thing of the past in Japan due to changing shopping habits, so those with digital experience will continue to be in demand for many years to come as companies transition and focus more on digital.Demand generation:We are seeing a steady rise in opportunities for those sales & marketing professionals who have both digital and demand generation experience.Sales:As digital transformation builds speed, even within the realm of the famously analog national government, and more and more tech related start-ups enter the Japan market, technically savvy sales people of all stripes with English language ability are highly sought after, from hunters and business development specialists, to account managers, and customer success professionals focusing on renewal and up selling.SINGAPORESingapore’s economy has made a good recovery from the contraction it experienced in 2020. This is mainly because of the country’s aggressive vaccination program rollout, its COVID-19 containment measures and government support for both businesses and households. The Ministry of Trade & Industry even upgraded its GDP growth forecast for 2021 from between 4 and 6% to between 6 and 7%. On the international business front, Singapore is still very much viewed by many MNCs and Asian conglomerates as an ideal place to locate regional offices for the following reasons:The Singapore government’s pro-business policies that are designed to attract foreign investments.The country’s reputation for its strict adherence to establishing effective governance and regulatory framework for businesses.Singapore serves as a gateway to South East Asia (SEA) markets with its talent pool of mostly bilingual white-collar professionals and theirregional experience.The pandemic, however, remains a significant near-term risk and is causing some uncertainty over the medium-term growth outlook. In terms of hiring, the consensus remains that of cautious optimism. Like most industries in the wider APAC region, sales & marketing roles are evolving to include more digital skills as part of the overall job scope.Candidates with commercial experience and a strong understanding of online services (and ecosystems) remain in high demand. Senior hires with proven track records in developing omnichannel strategies and execution are among the most sought after. For professionals who are falling short of such experience, upskilling becomes a critical mission for them to pursue actively in a bid to stay competitive in an intense job market.HOT SKILLSProduct management:As Singapore’s vibrant tech ecosystem continues to develop, we have seen a growing demand for product managers. Strong analytical, interpersonal and communication skills are integral for candidates in these roles.Digital marketing and enablement (as a discipline):Like other regions in APAC, demand for digital marketing skills is higher than it has ever been in Singapore. This is because of the rapid pace of digitisation brought forward due to changing consumer demand when lockdowns were enforced at the height of the pandemic.Digital transformation:The pandemic pushed companies to adopt and embrace digital technologies, so the momentum of digital transformation needs has increased. Companies are seeking project managers and programme leads to oversee their digital efforts. Candidates with strategic change and technology skills are highly sought after.Business development and partnerships:Singapore remains a top business hub for global investment. As the number of companies and start-ups setting up shop increases, so does the need for talent with business development skills to expand their presence in the region.CHINAChina is still very much the growth engine for many multinationals (MNCs). Several high-profile global companies have revealed aggressive expansion plans for China, with some targeting growth of three to five times their current figures. China has long been a digital leader in the consumer space and the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated digitisation in the country. We have seen several organisations increasing headcount as they boost their digital capabilities.Competition for talent is fierce - not just among MNCs. There is now an emergence of local Chinese brands providing new, innovative offerings to consumers. An increased number of companies have shifted their strategies to ensure they are also catering to the appetite of Chinese consumers by localising products. For example, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are now developing new products in China for Chinese consumers versus bringing in products from overseas, which is the approach they had favoured previously.The appetite for premium and luxury items is still strong among Chinese consumers. With limited overseas travel and a growing desire for quality products, the luxury sector is robust, even beating previous growth records. The same applies to luxury skincare brands. This has led to a new direction for non-luxury/mass brands, with many currently undergoing “premiumisation” strategies.We are seeing more and more candidates with higher salary expectations. With more vacancies than candidates available, companies are compelled to offer higher starting salaries. We see experienced candidates receiving multiple offers, and as such, companies need to move quickly to secure qualified talent. Hiring at speed is especially important for roles that require niche skill sets, such as those in a digital capacity. There is a very narrow pool of available talents in this space, and hence companies will need to do more to attract these talents.Many candidates want to work for companies that have committed long-term to the Chinese market, provide autonomy and have growth plans in place so they can progress. They also want the ability to widen their scope with higher salaries and job titles that reflect advancement.HOT SKILLSRetail and LuxuryCommercial experience: Companies in the retail and luxury sectors are seeking consumer marketing professionals with commercial experience to help them keep up with growing demand from buyers.Experience using electronic customer relationship management and extended producer responsibility systems: The use of technology in the retail and luxury sector is up as companies turn to tech to speed up processes while improving the customer experience.Experience in managing WeChat stores: Although retail and luxury brands are still very much brick-and-mortar, they still want to capitalise on the growth in eCommerce.FMCG and New Internet ConsumerseCommerce: Candidates with experience in eCommerce marketing, especially those who understand Alibaba regulation and other eCommerce platforms, are in high demand.Consumer insight:Due to evolving customer needs, job seekers that can quickly understand younger consumers are highly sought after.Demand generation: Consumer marketing professionals with a track record in driving new traffic and expanding new channels are in demand as companies aim to increase their reach.Digital savvy: Because consumer habits have changed, more companies are investing in digitisation. Candidates with a digitised mindset are in high demand as a result.General management: Consumer marketing professionals with a strong in-depth understanding of the digital landscape in China are highly sought after. They must be able to balance and integrate offline and online as Chinese consumers still value the experience of visiting a shop in-person.Social media: Frontline salespeople do not have to rely on the traffic in physical stores. Salespeople are now using the likes of Douyin/TikTok and other digital platforms to sell their products, thus achieving their sales targets. This trend grew in popularity during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic when shops suffered a significant drop in footfall.Key industries hiring in APAC right nowThe sectors hiring the most sales & marketing professionals include the following:Fintech: Organisations that specialise in payments, digital banking and crypto are hiring at scale right now.eCommerce: Many platforms, brands and retailers are expanding because of soaring demand from consumers and are increasing headcount as a result.Start-ups: Technology-driven, product-focused and agile companies are experiencing hiring surges. The companies that offer flexible, remote work opportunities are find it easier to attract candidates than those that don’t provide flexibility.Luxury retail brands (most relevant for the China market): Many are capitalising on the opportunities from the pandemic and are expanding their physical store numbers and eCommerce channels to cope with the surge in consumer demand.Healthcare-related retailers: There are various openings in commercial roles, especially in brand marketing, eCommerce and digital. There is also an increased demand for data-driven roles, including big data, consumer insight and so on.What are sales & marketing candidates looking for?SALARY EXPECTATIONSCandidates with well-developed skills and proven track records in the digital space possess a more robust appetite for salary increases when considering their next job moves. However, some candidates have received marginal salary increases in comparison. As a result, they are seeking opportunities that allow them direct exposure to sharpen their digital skills, build their experience and expand their networks within the online ecosystem.There is also another group of job seekers who are joining start-ups and are willing to take lower base salaries (sometimes even a pay cut) because they are taking calculated gambles on the stocks or employee stock ownership plans given by the companies. This group of candidates operates more on a high risk, high rewards mental framework, banking on an eventual IPO of the organisation. The companies that offer flexible, remote work opportunities are find it easier to attract candidates than those that don’t provide flexibility.COMPANY CULTURECompany culture is more important to candidates, as is flexible working options and unlimited annual leave, which is more evident for millennials and those who fall into the GEN-Z category.Unlike before, candidates are no longer seeking the prestige and security traditionally associated with large MNCs. There has been a shift towards (well-funded) start-ups, as well as smaller niche players instead. This is partly because of the allure and the success stories coming from Silicon Valley and the spotlight on the high growth tech ecosystem, which has been bubbling within Asia for the last couple of years.FLEXIBLE WORKINGCandidates are also seeking a better work-life balance. This stems from the additional time they had to spend on work tasks during the pandemic because they didn’t have to travel because of restrictions.In short, there is still an air of caution among sales & marketing professionals who are considering a career move. They will be evaluating the overall macro and micro factors of the opportunities at hand before making the leap forward.RECENT PLACEMENTSCHINACEO - European Consumer Goods CompanyDeputy General Manager - Global Fashion GroupHead of Media and Communication - Global Food & Beverage Company Innovation Lead - Global Consumer Goods CompanyProduct Manager - Leading Cosmetic CompanyCreative Director - Global Consumer Goods CompanyDesign Director - Global Chinese Lifestyle CompanyCategory Head - Global Consumer Goods CompanySenior Brand Marketing Manager - Global Wine & Spirits CompanySenior Project Management Lead - Global Consumer Goods CompanyeCommerce Manager - Leading Cosmetic CompanyConsumer Insight Senior Manager - Global Consumer Goods CompanyMarketing Planning Manager - Asian Manufacturing MultinationalHONG KONGHead of Marketing - Asian Property Development ConglomerateHead of Business Development - US FinTech CompanyHead of Pre Sales - US InsurTech CompanyHead of Internal Communications - UK Consumer Goods CompanySales Lead - US FinTech CompanyDigital Marketing Director - Asian Property Development ConglomerateDirector, Partnerships - UK Financial Information CompanyMarketing and Events Director - Global Hospitality BrandDirector, CRM - Global Hospitality BrandSenior Business Development Manager - US FinTech CompanyDigital Production Manager - Asian Digital Insurance CompanySenior Marketing Manager - Hong Kong Private Members ClubDigital Design Manager - UK Consumer Goods CompanySINGAPORERegional Head of Marketing - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyAPAC Marketing Lead - Beauty & Skincare CompanyHead of Trade Marketing, Singapore - Global Consumer Electronics Company Head of CRM, South Asia Pacific - US Sports Retail BrandRegional Sales Director, ANZ - US Technology CompanyAssociate Director, Communications - Singaporean ConglomerateRegional Digital Transformation Manager - European Oil & Gas CompanyExternal Affairs Manager, Singapore - Global Consumer Technology CompanySales Manager, Thailand - Regional Consumer Goods Manufacturing CompanyAPAC Communications Manager -US Agricultural CompanyRegional eCommerce and New Channel Manager - European Oil & Gas CompanyRegional Product Marketing Manager - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyOnline Business Director - Consumer Lifestyle CompanySenior Projects Manager (B2B) - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyRegional Sales Program Manager - Singaporean Logistics Technology CompanyKEY CONTACTSFor more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Sales & Marketing team:China Offices - please contact Paul Loo, Johannes Tan or Vicky LiuHong Kong Office - please contact Paul SheltonJapan Office - please contact Jonathan Naylor or Liam HegartySingapore Office - please contact Karen YapClick here to download the full report.
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