Singapore is one of the world’s largest banking sectors. Ranked number four in Asia in the Global Financial Centres Index, this thriving banking centre serves both the domestic market and the entire Asia Pacific region. Despite the disastrous economic year that was 2020, the banking sector performed strongly and continues to grow.
Careers in banking are highly coveted and very competitive due to the large salaries offered at certain levels. There are a vast array of different banking roles, from customer-centric positions like a bank teller, loan officer, customer service reps or administration, all the way up to securities, commodities, or financial services positions.
The best paying bank jobs in Singapore are in the high-flying worlds of global market trading, debt and equity capital management, and mergers and acquisitions. These jobs are demanding, competitive and challenging — but that is reflected in the remuneration offered.
Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of the best banks jobs in Singapore.
- Great Pay: The best banks want the best staff, so they are prepared to pay for them. Many banks offer starting and performance bonuses and pay around S$10k a month after three to four years. As you move up levels, the money becomes eye-watering, with foreign exchange brokers and portfolio managers taking home salaries over S$285,000 per year.
- The People: Since deregulation in the late 90s, Singapore has employed some of the best and brightest graduates available. The massive compensations involved in the industry mean that you will work with — and serve — some of the people on the forefront of technology and business. The industry is so fast-moving that training and learning never stops, and with a diverse and varied staff, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with a wide array of different people.
- Perks: A company can’t employee the brightest and the best without attracting them with generous bonuses. Banks compete over the most skilled staff, like investment bankers, and to keep them in the job, they need to offer a few extras. Travelling business class, eating at the best restaurants and staying at the best hotels are just some of the pluses involved. Some companies also offer generous pensions and paternity or maternity leave.
- Networking: There are very few jobs that will give you quite as much access to wealthy and successful people as high-level banking. Accumulating contacts like these can be a great move for anyone who plans to branch out independently after a while. Additionally, when the job strains become too much, many people decide to move into management or consulting roles, using their experience at the forefront of these desirable industries to help a variety of companies.
- Experience and Training: Specialised industries such as banking require a lot of learning on the job. To get to the top you need to work long hours to beat out your competition and the skills and training you accrue in such a compressed amount of time constitute a lifetime of training in other industries.
- Long Hours: While the compensation is excellent, the hours are long. They say money never sleeps and because of this you might not get too much time for rest. It’s not uncommon for financial analysts to work 16hrs days — and occasional weekends. This lifestyle will not be for everyone. As you progress, the hours you work may become a little better, but even associates regularly pull 60-80hr weeks. Burnout is common.
- It’s often not a 9-5 job: Careers like investment banking and trading can be all-consuming. There is an expectation that you are available 24*7, with weekends and evenings frequently disrupted. This is fine for the workaholic, but striking the right balance — and finding time for friends and family — is essential.
- Competition: This one is both a blessing and a curse. Competition from other workmates for bonuses, promotions and opportunities is intense.
Which Bank Jobs pay the Most?
Global Markets - Trading / S$191k
Global market traders usually work on behalf of investment banks, financial houses or exchanges. Traders generally fall into one of three camps:
- flow traders (trade on behalf of the bank’s clients)
- proprietary traders (trade on behalf of the bank)
- sales traders (buy and sell securities on behalf of either the bank or the client)
This job requires an analytic mind and an interest in — and ability to — read the financial markets and make good predictions and decisions. It’s high stress and involves being a good communicator, a strong proficiency with numbers and good teamwork skills.
ECM & DCM / S$190k
Equity capital market (ECM) and debt capital market (DCM) traders do similar jobs, but one trades equity and the other trades debt.
ECM works to help companies raise equity capital. ECM has a primary and secondary market. Primary markets are where securities like private placements, derivatives and IPOs are issued. The secondary market is where stocks and shares are traded.
ECM jobs include a fair amount of marketing and sales of the created securities, so prospective employees benefit from a knowledge of financial markets on top of an ability to convince and package deals for clients.
While ECM deals with more long-term securities, DCM is a much more fast-paced environment, working with debt in the short term. DMC analysts work with debt issuances like bonds or debenture. DCM works with companies looking to issue debt to drive their expansion. Again, this is a high-stakes job that requires an analytical mind and a great level of knowledge about finance, fixed income markets, treasuries, money market instruments and more.
M&A / S$190k
M&A — or mergers and acquisitions — is a classic investment banking job. They work on either the buy side or sell side. The sell side works with clients (i.e. a company) who are looking to either merge with another company as equals or be purchased (or acquired) by a larger company. The buy side works with clients who want to buy a specific company or, more generally, find companies to acquire.
Again, strong analytical skills are a must, with an ability to use data to create financial and valuations models.
Structured & Project Finance / S$190k
Project finance deals with the financing of infrastructure projects across a range of industries. Large projects require significant investment and funding, and bank workers in this sector work with coordinating financial arrangements in these projects or providing capital. Again, this is split into a sell side and buy side.
Analytic skills, an ability to innovate, excellent communication skills and an understanding of risk management is required.
Anti-Money Laundering / S$146k
With stricter global governance and financial markets regulations in recent years, anti-money laundering (AML) and regulatory compliance are some of the most significant growth industries in banking. Driven by government crackdowns on terrorism, crime, fraud and organised crime, banks have been forced to become more responisble and more aware of who invests or banks with them.
An AML analyst or investigator uses digital tools to investigate suspicious activity on behalf of the bank. They investigate cases or monitor activity and must liaise with examiners and auditors to pass compliance. An excellent eye for detail, an understanding of the sector and excellent communication skills are some of the traits required for this position.
How Much do Bankers Earn in Singapore?
Here is a list of the high range of salaries earned by bankers in Singapore. This list does not include bonuses.
Global markets - trading
ECM and DCM
Structured and project finance
Research analyst (FICC and equity)
Private banking RM
Corporate banking RM
What are the top Banks in Singapore?
DBS Bank is the largest bank in South-East Asia and serves the entire Asian market. They have a progressive workplace culture that is centred around equality and employs candidates locally and abroad. DBS offers a wide range of career options for graduates, with capital markets, compliance, audit, risk and more.
Browse DBS Bank Jobs
OCBC Bank is Singapore’s oldest bank, specialising in financial and wealth management and commercial banking. A recently overhauled benefits program has made OCBC Bank an attractive proposition for graduates, with perks centred around employee health and wellness.
South-East Asia’s third largest bank, UOB Bank, offers commercial and private banking services, insurance, asset management and more. An employee-focused approach, with benefits and a flexible leave program, make this a popular choice for many graduates.
Standard Chartered (Singapore)
Standard Chartered is a large multinational and financial services firm with offices in over 70 countries. It offers consumer, corporate and institutional banking, along with treasury services. Great employees benefits and development programs make this a fine choice for graduates, with shareholder options particularly of interest. Standard Chartered salaries are considered very competitive.
Maybank is a Malaysian owned bank with a presence in over 20 countries. Along with corporate and consumer banking, they offer investment, asset management and stockbroker services. Maybank has good career advancement programs and excellent medical and dental options for employees.
What are the Most in-demand Banking Jobs in Singapore?
Many companies are turning to consolidation in a bid to increase market share or dominance, meaning that M&A is thriving. With demands in Associate to AVP level, candidates would benefit from a good knowledge of regional markets, financial modelling and CFA-certification.
With regulation and compliance at the forefront of the industry in recent years, firms are increasingly investing in administration and auditing staff. Some specialist areas in high demand are customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, anti-money laundering and sanctions. Candidates with appropriate experience in these roles can command salaries of as much as S$300k.
Compliance, risk management and financial audit positions have become more in demand as firms try to minimise operational and business risk and keep abreast of regulatory changes. Strong internal or external audit experience, plus over five years of experience in financial services audits, are areas that firms are competing to fill.
Again, increased regulatory compliance and the introductions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), have directed banks to focus on compliance across their entire range of services, from private to corporate. Know your customer (KYC) teams have expanded to meet demands, with a range of new hires required. Strong analytic skills and experience in APAC are desired.
While corporate banking sectors have shown slower recruitment levels of late, trade and support settlement roles have seen sharply increased demand. Asset classes like equities, fixed income, FX and derivatives are growing in popularity across the financial sector and hedge funds — especially among analyst to senior analyst levels.
Which Cities are the Best for Banking Jobs?
According to the Global Finance Centres Index 28 release in 2020, the top 5 banking capitals of the world are as follows.
New York City
Wall Street is the centre of the U.S. financial industry. It is New York’s most important sector, generating about one fifth of the total wages in the city. Financial markets in Wall Street include stocks, commodities, bonds, futures and foreign exchanges. Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs and Blackrock are just some of the bigger banks, exchanges, brokerages or underwriting firms that have a presence in New York. This is a mature financial market, but the high cost of living is offset by the bustling New York culture and amenities on offer.
London is the world’s most connected financial centre and boasts trade links and financial services across every market. London specialises in any banking service you can think of and has more banking head offices than anywhere in the world — with a total of over 480 overseas banks. The financial centre generates about ¼ of the UK’s GDP. The cost of living can be high, but London is one of the entertainment capitals of the world, with great bars and restaurants.
Shanghai has developed since the 1970s to become a massive global financial sector. It is one of the most ambitious and innovative financial centres, driven by China’s growing relevance in the world economy. Reforms in recent decades have loosened economic regulations, however many believe that strict capital controls, ownership caps and regulatory issues are all that are keeping Shanghai from the top spot. A booming insurance, trade, real estate and other tertiary industries have boosted Shanghai’s finance centre to 50 percent of the cities GDP.
With several of the world’s largest investment banks and insurance companies headquartered in Tokyo, it has long been considered one of the international markets’ key centres. With large hedge funds, investment banks, private banking and more, this booming metropolis serves markets in Asia and beyond. It has long been considered the most expensive city to live in, but this can be offset by the excellent wages on offer in the financial sector.
Economic freedom, low corruption and financial competitiveness make Hong Kong an attractive international financial sector. Low tax and free trade mean that many international banks maintain a presence in this bustling, economic powerhouse. With the Hong Kong dollar essentially pegged to the US dollar, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange one of the largest exchanges in the world, Hong Kong is an ever-evolving banking sector.
Which Degree is Best for Banking?
As the bank sector becomes more innovative and more digital, many degrees like physics, maths, engineering, and IT are in demand. However, MBA and finance degrees are still the most common holdings for recent graduates.
Below is a list of the top 5 degrees that will help power you to your dream job in banking.
A master of business administration (MBA) degree is a big help for a banking career. Possession of this degree can help graduates start at higher levels — even associate levels — because of its focus on strategising, marketing and project management.
A finance degree is essential for many banking sectors. While an MBA is great for many administrative and management roles, graduates who wish to work in the more analytic banking areas stand to benefit from this qualification. Investment, budgeting, problem solving and an understanding of the financial market are all key transferable skills.
For entry level roles, a business degree is a good option. The broader scope of a business degree — taking in diverse disciplines like corporate finance, law, strategy and project management — means graduates have more potential flexibility across the financial sector than some of the more specialist degrees.
An economics degree is suitable for banking as the two disciplines are tightly entwined. An understanding of economic principles is essential to many aspects of finance dealt with by banks. Regulations, interest, monetary policy and more are some of the transferable skills. Graduates with economics degrees may be interested in analyst roles due to their appreciation of the broader market.
Accounting graduates have many opportunities within banking, however many of them will be more administrative in scope. Sectors like tax, financial reporting and auditing all benefit from someone with an understanding of accounting principles. Additionally, many accounting graduates transition into treasury management and risk.
Singapore has a vibrant and evolving banking industry that is an attractive option for many graduates and overseas workers. Many leading companies have a culture of equality and workplace happiness, with employee wellness becoming a part of their larger focus over recent years. The financial service is innovative and competitive, with many giant firms and great opportunities awaiting successful applicants.