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Expect continuing shortages of data professionals in Singapore’s financial industry in the coming year, even as downsizing in the tech sector swells the ranks of technologists seeking work.

There’s no slowdown in the financial industry’s quest to use data to improve traditional banking services and to pioneer new ways to reach consumers in the digital age, according to recruiters.

“Data helps them understand what is happening, how to redevelop, readapt and how to change something or even build something new,” says Vanessa Low, senior consultant, technology, at Selby Jennings in Singapore.

Low says demand for data specialists began to pick up earlier in 2022 and looks set to remain consistently strong in the coming year. The current benchmark of 15% to 20% salary increases for data professionals who change jobs will likely remain the norm in 2023, in spite of the weakening global economic outlook, she says.

“They will never really get huge packages moving within banks at least as compared to developers,” Low says, referring to the difference between data professionals and software programmers.

So what data roles will be most in demand as banks rev up their use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, web3 and blockchain to improve services in the coming months?

Low says data scientists are among the roles most in demand, because of their ability to collect data and build models, but it's important to recognise that certain skills will be more sought after than others. “The specialisation is very niche in what data scientists are looking to focus on, be it computer vision to text classification, image processing, and geo processing. There are many different niches,” says Low.

Data analysts will also be sought after for their ability to summarise results and explain how to make use of these insights. Banks are also hiring for data engineers, data management and architecture experts, and data governance professionals.

On the downside, Low says that despite it’s hot-job status, banks typically rely on relatively small data teams who work collaboratively. “They are able to cover each other so usually not a very big team is needed unless it’s a greenfield project,” she adds.

Much of the hiring is expected to take place among banks with a focus on innovation in products and services, or those seeking organisational change.

Banks known for having sizeable data teams include OCBC, DBS, Standard Chartered, Citibank and Deutsche Bank. Shanghai Pudong is notable as being among banks operating an innovation hub presence in Singapore.

But in general, demand for data roles at banks is broad based. Most banks with a front-office trading team are looking to hire more data engineers and scientists. Banks are also applying data solutions to back-office roles such as human resources.

However, Singapore’s three-year moratorium on building new data centres has put a damper on demand for data engineers. Although the moratorium officially ended this year, the lack of projects in the development pipeline means data hires in the coming quarters will be more weighted towards non-warehousing roles.

“The talent pool required will come more from analytics and the scientists as opposed to data engineers,” says Christina Ng, managing director of the Asia Pacific region at LMA recruitment.

Looking ahead, Ng expects another good year for data hiring. “Data jobs are still a high-demand-low-supply area,” says Ng. “I think there will be some form of cautiousness, but do I see that drop significantly? I don’t think so.”

Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash 

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AUTHORChris Oliver Insider Comment

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