The Singapore finance jobs seeking Master’s degrees
- Wealth management, corporate banking, sales and trading, corporate strategy, and risk and compliance are bright spots for hiring in Singapore’s financial industry
- To meet shortages of highly skilled talent, financial institutions are looking for candidates with a Master in Finance seeking a career change
- In the future, jobs may abound in wealth management, asset management, foreign exchange, private equity, insurance, and fintech
Amid news of dampened hiring, it might seem challenging to attempt a career move during an economic slowdown.
But pockets of sun still shine on finance in high-growth Singapore. The Southeast Asian nation’s myriad institutions continue to demand talent to staff offices in the world’s third biggest financial centre – after New York and London – meaning plum opportunities remain for candidates in the right verticals.
Where do these blue skies lie? In wealth management, corporate banking, sales and trading, corporate strategy, and risk and compliance, said eFinancialCareers content manager Simon Mortlock at the ESSEC webinar Why Finance Careers Are In Demand Now held late last year.
According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the nation’s financial regulator, up to 4,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the republic annually through 2025.
This comes as the city-state transitions into a hub renowned for wealth management and high-end tech: its government recently approved five new digital banks; enticed Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and Barclays to set up FX engines; and launched a new investment fund structure to increase its attractiveness to alternative fund managers.
To meet demand for high-skilled talent required for this industry upgrade, Singapore is “returning to its pragmatic, pre-pandemic strategy of encouraging skilled migration to fill specific talent gaps,” Mortlock says.
Citing interest from global financial institutions to tap on graduates’ analytical capabilities, networks, and skills in sales and strategy, he adds that employers will overcome talent shortages by being flexible with hiring, taking on candidates “who may not be a 100% match, but do have transferable skills and can be trained up”.
Springboard into finance
Among the talents employers are looking for are those with a Master in Finance seeking a career change. “Banks in Singapore are open to hiring postgraduates who want to enter finance for the first time, or move into another part of the sector on the back of their Master’s,” Mortlock says.
“To some extent, they are also open to hiring foreign nationals, whose current skills and Master’s qualifications can help them overcome shortages in the local labour market.”
But while many graduates aspire to roles in trading, investment banking, or private equity, this hinges on them possessing related skill sets, such as an investment banker transitioning to private equity or hedge funds.
For those whom this is more of a stretch, Mortlock advises: “While your very first role after a Master in Finance may not be your dream job, it could be just the springboard you need to grow your career in finance.”
More roles might soon abound in Singapore as the nation lays out its plans to grow the financial hub aggressively in six areas: wealth management, asset management, foreign exchange, private equity, insurance, and fintech – specifically Web 3.0, artificial intelligence, and green finance, as the nation makes itself a regional ESG hub.
In response, Master’s graduates can target roles in areas such as ESG, where their analytical skill set and ability to articulate the value of sustainability to an organisation set them apart from others interviewing at newly ESG-focused firms, such as Deutsche Bank, BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, and Fullerton Fund Management.
Meanwhile, those with high-level programming skills can aim for roles in business analytics that require both tech and finance knowledge, or apply to be digital transformation specialists – expertise coveted by organisations such as Citi, Standard Chartered and DBS. Blockchain skills will also come in handy as the nation continues to develop it for wholesale use.
“At first, I thought that fintech was only applying technologies to traditional finance,” says Ma Chenmei, who opted for the fintech and analytics track at ESSEC’s Master in Finance programme.
She believes ESSEC’s modules were valuable in helping her better understand industry developments, and apply the programming skills she learned to help financial institutions solve real problems. “Now, I understand the depth of fintech coverage, and its revolutionary impact on the whole industry” she added.
Positioning for the upswing
The current downturn should not deter talent from positioning themselves well for a future upswing. “A downturn can actually be a good time to do a Master in Finance and gain new skills as the market recovers,” Mortlock says.
Such is the case for Raphael Lambert, who took a Master in Finance from ESSEC Business School after graduating from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s in Economics.
“It was always my intention to move into finance after I graduated. However, following the completion of my degree, I recognised that I needed to equip myself with more skills,” he says. This led to him landing a role as an investment analyst at asset manager Amundi.
Sivaram Ganapathy, an ESSEC graduate who used his Master in Finance to jump from a capital structuring associate to an associate director of capital markets solutions at Standard Chartered, says the knowledge gained from the programme puts candidates in an excellent place to “branch out any way you want”.
“I wanted to explore a different part of the industry,” he says, of his decision to pursue higher education. “I was looking around for schools, and I found ESSEC had a very analytical curriculum.”
A lot of Ganapathy’s classmates went to investment banking, sales and trading, “or in the worst case, private equity,” he chuckles. “To have the luxury to say, ‘I didn't land a role in investment banking or sales and trading, I ended up in private equity’ is something, I think, everyone would dream of during their undergraduate years.”