Singapore firms to increase their accounting and finance headcount: Robert Half

Nurdianah Md Nur

Dr Ernest Kan and Stella Tang
(From left: )Dr Ernest Kan, President of ISCA, and Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore at yesterday's media briefing.

Firms in Singapore will be actively hiring accounting and finance professionals in the first half of this year, according to a research released by Robert Half Singapore.

Findings from the research formed the basis of the recruitment firm's 2014 Asia Salary Guide. Out of the 150 CFOs surveyed in Singapore, 45 percent of them claimed that they intend to increase their finance and accounting headcount over the next few months.  None of CFOs plan to reduce their finance and accounting staff too.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with fewer than 1,000 employees will be the most active hirers for accounting and finance professionals in the republic this year, said Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, said at yesterday's media briefing. According to the survey, 48 percent of the small businesses and 46 percent of medium-sized companies plan to hire, as compared to 31 percent of large firms. SMBs are "comfortable increasing their employee numbers as they are confident about their prospects this year," said Tang.

hiring intentions in Singapore
Hiring intentions by company size and business type in Singapore.

Banking and financial services
Hiring activity for financial services professionals in the republic this year is expected to be strong in the insurance, corporate banking, and private banking sectors.

Due to the new regulatory requirements, firms will increasingly seek risk and compliance professionals. Firms will also continue hiring professionals with financial control, internal audit, project finance and commodity trade finance skills. 

Faced with a tight labour market, 91 percent of the CFOs surveyed in Singapore are concerned about losing their top talent. To address this concern, firms are intending to increase the salaries of their finance professionals (49 percent) and increase their bonuses (37 percent) this year. 

Finance and accounting
According to the research, experienced and skilled finance and accounting professionals are highly sought after by firms in the fast moving consumer goods, energy, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and real estate industries.

As companies today are strengthening their internal controls and oversight functions to meet the higher standards of corporate governance, there is an increased demand for professionals with internal audit, regulatory and compliance skills, said Tang.

To attract and retain talent, CFOs surveyed said that they plan to increase the salaries (55 percent) and bonuses (37 percent) for their finance and accounting professionals this year.

Despite the positive hiring sentiment, professionals need to "continuously keep up with new skills and knowledge...  as employers are looking for qualified professionals with the right credentials," advised Dr Ernest Kan, President of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).