, Singapore

4 in 5 Singapore CFOs struggle to hire finance professionals

Talented financial candidates within the areas of risk, auditing, financial and client management are particularly in high demand.

More than eight in 10 (83%) of Singapore’s CFOs find it challenging to source qualified finance professionals, with the number rising to 85% who predict it will become even more challenging in the coming five years, according to Robert Half’s Salary Guide 2019.

“Within this hiring climate, talented financial candidates within the areas of risk, auditing, financial and client management are particularly in high demand as financial institutions and private banks continue to expand their footprint across Asia. Meanwhile, the rise of e-payments is creating strong demand for accountants and credit controllers who are able to efficiently streamline strategic responsibilities for businesses,” Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore, said in a statement.

Also read: Active job seekers down 5% amidst high wage satisfaction: study

Whilst artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to boost gross domestic product (GDP) for local economies by up to 26% by 2030, finance leaders in Singapore agree that positive strides towards increased automation and a more AI-assisted future are helping finance and accounting professionals to increasingly move away from task-based roles to focus on processing and generating information critical for corporate decisions and financial reporting.

In 2019, 86% of CFOs have already or are planning to implement AI programs within their organisation which in part are having a major impact on traditional job roles in the finance sector, particularly for accountants, as companies navigate the era of cloud-based accounting.

“Internal auditors and financial analysts are amongst the roles within the sector that are impacted by AI and robotics as the internal audit and analysis process can be enhanced by AI-based software such as Computer Assisted Audit Techniques (CAAT),” the report’s authors noted. Data extraction and analysis software tools such as ACL are widely used in the fields of fraud detection, prevention and risk management to assess internal business processes.

The Singaporean government is demonstrating its commitment to supporting digital transformation within the accounting sector through the Digital Transformation for Accountancy Programme which will deliver a $2.4m boost to help small accounting firms go digital.

“Demand is increasing in 2019 for commercially-savvy finance talent with strong data analytics experience,” the report’s authors highlighted. “These individuals can take advantage of tools such as Microsoft platforms, Data Query, Power BI and ERP systems to analyse key trends from big data and give businesses their competitive edge.

Also read: Online hiring activity in IT and telecom sectors jumped 23% in 2018

With regards to risk management in the finance sector, company expansion has led to increased demand for front-office financial services staff specifically within credit risk corporates and private banks due to continued sector growth.

By 2020, financial institutions across Singapore are expected to be further impacted by tightened compliance and governance requirements due to a series of new regulations and reforms introduced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Referred to as the largest regulatory reporting transformation for Singaporean banks in recent history, companies will face mounting pressure from evolving regulatory complexities and compliance requirements.

“Consequently, compliance continues to be an active and competitive recruitment area with increasing demand for regulatory and conduct risk professionals, as well as specialists within financial crime, investigations, surveillance and monitoring,” the authors added.

According to the Salary Guide, the top 10 finance positions in demand for Singapore for 2019 are credit risk officers, internal auditors, risk specialists, finance managers, relationship managers, tax managers, internal auditors for commerce and industry, financial analyst, credit controller and accountants.

It also noted that 30% of firms are looking to add new permanent positions, whilst 22% plan to add new temporary/contract positions. 

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