The following report provides an update on the key trends that we have observed within the Accounting & Finance job market in Singapore. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.
The Ministry of Trade & Industry has maintained the 2017 GDP growth forecast at 1 to 3% despite the resilient performance of the Singapore economy in the first quarter of this year and the improved global growth outlook. Downside risks in the global economy still linger, however, the Singapore economy grew by 2.7% on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2017. This is down from the 2.9% growth rate recorded in the previous quarter.
According to the MOM Labour Market Report, the number of job roles available in Singapore rose slightly in March 2017. The ratio of job roles to job seekers improved from 0.77 in Dec 2016 to 0.81 in March 2017, which can be attributed to lower redundancy rates. The climate has been cautious with total employment contracting in the first quarter of this year while re-entry into employment remained steady at 64.4%.
The MOM report indicated that the long-term unemployment rate inched up to 0.8% in the first quarter of 2017. Professionals, managers, executives and technicians have formed the bulk of those that were made redundant, many of which are finding that it is taking longer than expected to find a new role. Resignation rates continue to maintain at a seven-year low as individuals hold on to their current roles amidst the economic uncertainty.
Financial planning and analysis continues to be a key function for many organisations. Professionals with such skills must also be commercially savvy and possess the gravitas to engage with business partners in order to succeed in this function. There is also an increased need for accounting & finance professionals who are proficient in business intelligence tools and experienced in providing predictive analytics to support strategic decision making.
Singapore continues to be the location of choice for multinationals in APAC and Southeast Asia (SEA) to establish their regional headquarters, with multiple companies having moved their supply chain function from their existing location to Singapore. Product line growth and strong growth in SEA markets are some of the factors at play. As such, supply chain accounting & finance professionals with experience in the intercompany and inventory functions continue to be in high demand.
Various restructuring exercises among global multinationals have been seen within the past three quarters. The challenging market conditions and the fact that companies must continually evolve and optimise their operations in order to remain competitive are some of the push factors. When it comes to cost cutting measures undertaken by companies, such as internal restructuring and rezoning of regions, including segmenting APAC functions into smaller regions covering North Asia and the SEA region, senior candidates seem to be hit hardest. Many recognise the inevitability of their diminishing responsibilities in favour of new headcounts in smaller subregions.
In line with the implementation of new revenue standards, there is demand for individuals with strong technical accounting knowledge in the area of revenue recognition.
There has been an increase in demand for regional pricing professionals, many of which are newly created positions. This is largely due to an increased business focus on pricing and profitability.
There has been a trend towards newly created specialist positions within the area of indirect tax and transfer pricing. With growing globalisation, cross-border mergers & acquisitions, and increasingly sophisticated accounting & finance systems, such tax matters are attracting the gaze of the relevant government bodies. As such, professionals with the above-mentioned skills are highly sought after.
Candidates with specialist skills in internal controls & compliance have also been in demand. Likewise, individuals with forensic audit expertise are being sought by companies aiming to create more synergy through the alignment of processes and controls, both regionally and globally.
With the advancement of technology, analytical and IT audit functions have evolved with data processing becoming of the utmost importance. This has resulted in data analytics being a desirable skill set sought after by employers in recent times.
More short to mid-term contract positions have become available. This is due to the difficulties encountered by corporate headquarters in obtaining approvals for new headcounts, many of whom are resorting to hiring short to mid-term contractors to support their accounting & finance activities, including transformation initiatives.
SALARIES & BONUSES
Amid subdued global economic conditions, many companies have been more conservative with their bonus payouts. The oil and gas sector has been particularly more cautious than other sectors.
However, marked by strong growth, the technology, consumer goods and pharmaceutical & life science industries rewarded employees this year with salary increments and good bonuses.
Candidates are looking beyond just dollars and cents when considering a job move, with career opportunities and long-term development paths forming part of the equation.
According to the World Bank’s latest World Economic Prospects, the world economy is projected to grow at 2.7%. While the East Asia and Pacific region is projected to grow at 6.2% in 2017, and at a slightly lower 6.1% on average in 2018-19.
There will be a good level of hiring activity in the second half of 2017 despite the challenges currently present.
Sectors such as digital, healthcare and technology are likely to be the fastest-growing sectors in the years ahead.
There will also be more niche positions requiring specialised skill sets, such as roles in cyber security, mobile development, eCommerce and big data.
Candidates are likely to adopt a more cautious approach to job searching, favouring jobs that offer long-term stability and career advancement.