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Banking & Financial Services Q1 Updates

It is the end of Q1 2014 and post bonus announcement period, we would like to share with you quick market updates on what is happening in the Banking & Financial Services sector. Please see below.


  • The sentiment amongst employees this year had been “as expected” / “met expectations”, but most did not have high expectations for better bonuses or better pay rise compared to year 2012.

  • New job openings have increased as employers have started to recruit during the post-bonus period; aiming at active jobseekers who are more ready to make a job move after bonus were paid out and also to make up for staff attrition post bonus pay out.

  • Interestingly this year in the middle and back office spaces, big bonus variations were seen between different functions / teams within the same company. For example within the same bank, bonuses paid in Finance could be less than 50% of bonuses paid in Operations function.

  • Bonuses this year ranged from one to seven months for support functions within financial institutions, with majority of employees getting two to three months. Continuing the themes of recent years, bonuses are paid in cash up till a certain amount where it would be a combination of cash and shares, usually vested over 3 years.

  • Most employees received pay raises between 3% - 15%. The higher % range tended to be in functions such as compliance where the skill set had been very much in demand across all types of financial institutions. Employers now have to pay competitively in an effort to reduce staff turnover.

  • Some of the companies which had traditionally required one month notice have asked employees to sign onto new terms such as serving three months notice.

  •  There are firms which have taken the pre-bonus period to make redundancies in large and small scales.

  • Candidates from banks (sell side) are interested to look for opportunities from the buy side (e.g. asset management, fund house, private equity) due to relatively wider job exposure, better job stability, better work-life balance, and potentially higher upside of performance bonuses.

  • Salary or pay rise nowadays may not always be the number one factor for consideration when it comes to changing jobs. Candidates are now placing more emphasis on job security, work environment, career prospects, fringe benefits, and potential work-life balance.

  • While some restructuring or redundancies are still happening in many banks (in a smaller scale compared to previous years), these banks are also hiring simultaneously to attract new blood due to lower costs or to bring in other expertise to up-skill the teams.

  • In some instances, there are still some promotions (mostly from AVP to VP) happening with no or minimal pay raises. Banks are looking to use title promotions to retain high performers under tight cost constraints.

  • In junior to middle level management positions, more job rotation or internal transfers are noted in many banks for employee retention and for better business continuity / contingency plan in case of restructuring or people movement.

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