Major banks in Asia have resumed hiring new staff to boost their digital operations.

Financial institutions ranging from the DBS Group to Oversea-Chinese Banking, and Citigroup are competing for tech talent in a hiring spree driven by the demand for coders.

The competition is also heated for mobile app designers and data scientists who can build systems to crunch figures and move business online.

The race for tech talent

DBS is creating 360 tech jobs for experienced staff to bolster its digital platform, Singapore’s biggest bank said last month when it announced plans to hire more than 2,000 people in its home market this year.

OCBC plans to hire 3,000 people in Singapore this year to support job creation.

Citigroup, meanwhile, is filling up positions for the 2,500 coders it decided to hire earlier this year, a large number of whom will be based in Asia including Shanghai and the Indian cities of Pune and Chennai.

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By GlobalData

What this means, according to Maybank Kim Eng’s analyst Thilan Wickramasinghe, is that underserved segments such as the youth and new startups/SMEs are likely to find better access to financial products.

Greater need for digital services and security

Social distancing has increased demand for digital services such as online banking and securities trading, and with it the need to beef up security.

“Demand is strong — a lot of the talent we talk to have a few offers on hand from the finance sector,” said Hubert Tam, a managing partner at recruitment firm Sirius Partners Ltd. in Hong Kong.

“While other hiring can wait, tech is not just something that you can pull the plug on. The systems need to keep running,” he said.

Social benefits

The increasing digitisation of banks will benefit the underserved segments of the economies, according to Maybank Kim Eng’s analyst Thilan Wickramasinghe.

These include the youth and new startups/SMEs that are likely to find better access to financial products.

“Traditional banking has generally focused on large, established businesses which require less risk capital deployment,” he said.

“Assessing credit quality for these customers is cumbersome, costly and often do not justify the return. However, virtual banks using lower cost operating models and data/AI enabled asset quality management, may be able to generate better returns from this segment. Supporting SMEs with deeper capital access will become an important driver.”