It was the greatest financial crisis in recent times – a downturn so severe it set back many banks and even countries. Now, five years after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the dust has settled and financial services leaders in Singapore can see the upside once again.
According to a survey by specialist recruitment company Robert Half, Singapore's banks and financial institutions are leaner, more efficient and more risk adverse. There has also been a significant shift towards the use of interim and contract staff.
The survey asked 600 senior financial services leaders in major financial centres globally to nominate the benefits to their bank or financial institution directly resulting from the GFC. There were 150 respondents from Singapore.
Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore, said financial companies and leaders here are reaping the benefits of the actions they took during the crisis.
"Banks and financial institutions have been through the pain and are now seeing the gains," says Tang.
The survey shows banks and financial institutions around the world have become leaner and more efficient. In Singapore, 40 percent of respondents said they are achieving more with fewer employees, as their teams are now more effective.
"Singapore's banks and financial institutions are also more cautious in the way they approach their business since the GFC, with 38 per cent saying their bank’s culture is now less risk prone," notes Tang.
Increased use of contract staff
A major change on the human resources front has been the increased use of contract and interim employees. In Singapore, 59 per cent of finance leaders say their use of contract and interim employees has increased as a result of the GFC.
The trend is stronger among large firms with 1,000 employees or more, with 68 percent creating more non-permanent roles.
Tan notes that the rise of contract work is a sign that the Singapore workforce has changed significantly after the global financial crisis. Where once everyone sought a permanent job in a solid company offering good career progression, working on successive contract jobs is now an appealing option for a growing number of talented people.
"The demand for these professionals comes from companies that need specific skills to manage sensitive projects, such as outsourcing of processes, project financing, or to act as interim managers while a new operation is set up or when a company undergoes a restructuring," says Tang.