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.
Based on advance estimates, the Singapore economy expanded 3.8% on a year-on-year basis in the second quarter of 2018, slightly lower than the 4.3% expansion seen in the preceding quarter.
Specifically, the manufacturing and services sectors continue to fuel Singapore's growth, with 8.6% and 3.4% expansion seen respectively in the second quarter of 2018. All the manufacturing clusters saw growth; however, the biggest contributors were the electronics and biomedical manufacturing clusters. For services, the finance & insurance and wholesale & retail trade sectors were the solid performers.
Total employment, excluding Foreign Domestic Workers, increased substantially in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the first, and a reversal from the contraction observed in the same period a year ago.
In regards to retrenchments, there was a slight increase in the second quarter from the preceding quarter. This is reflective of ongoing restructuring and reorganisation within companies.
Candidates with demonstrated business partnering skills have been increasingly in demand, especially for roles within the supply chain and manufacturing functions.
More organisations have been embarking on finance transformation initiatives to drive process and system improvements. There has been a visible increase in demand for professionals with demonstrated experience in driving and leading finance transformation projects relating to process improvements. In addition, jobs have surged within this space as a result of digital and regulatory changes.
Transactional accounting work has continued to move away from Singapore to lower cost locations and, as such, many multinationals have been recruiting candidates who are experienced in managing insourced and outsourced shared service centres (SSCs).
With the ever-changing digital world, there has been an increase in recruitment for positions in data mining and analytics.
As tax authorities develop globally and implement new regulations and compliance rulings, demand for tax positions will remain high, especially in specialised functions such as indirect tax and transfer pricing.
Due to new revenue recognition and lease accounting standards, professionals with experience in revenue accounting and revenue reporting have been highly sought after.
An increasing number of companies have been looking into M&A activities, leading to a surge in hiring for M&A positions.
Companies have been actively searching for candidates with strong soft skills, such as adaptability and openness to change, in order to deal with the fast-changing and dynamic climate brought by organisational restructuring and post-merger and acquisitions.
SALARIES & BONUSES
Employers across all industries have taken a conservative approach in regards to salaries and bonuses.
The average salary increment for professionals this year was in the vicinity of 3 to 6%, with top performers receiving higher increments of between 8 to 12%.
Candidates have been weighing up other factors besides compensation when considering whether to move organisations, with career development, company culture and industry changes all playing a role.
Bonuses this year, on average, ranged between to 1 to 3 months across the board.
As we enter the second half of the year, there is heightened economic uncertainty in light of the ongoing US-China trade tensions. If trade tensions escalate significantly, Singapore will not be immune from repercussions.
Hiring activity for the remainder of the year will be cautious. Some sectors, however, will remain strong including digital, healthcare and technology.
Artificial intelligence and robotics is changing the way in which businesses operate and, as such, the Accounting & Finance function will continue to see transformation. With an increasing number of companies adopting robotics and analytical tools, demand for Accounting & Finance professionals with experience in predictive analytics will be strong. There will also likely be an increase in demand for individuals with a background in financial engineering.
Companies will continue to drive transformation initiatives that streamline processes, resulting in an increased need for professionals experienced in leading finance transformation projects. They will also continue to recruit professionals with business partnering expertise to help advise and add value to the business.