Bankers looking east for jobs

by Ray Clancy on September 6, 2012

Singapore has become a favored location for investment banking staff

Singapore has widened the gap over London and New York in a survey amongst UK investment banking staff on which financial centre they would most like to work in.

The annual Preferred Location survey from financial recruitment firm Astbury Marsden shows that 31% of respondents chose Singapore as their most favoured location, up from 27% last year.

Second was New York with 20%, London with 19% which is down from 22% last year, Hong Kong at 16% and Dubai at 15%.

According to Astbury Marsden, comparatively high taxes and low wage growth for bankers in the West are making destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong even more attractive for increasingly mobile financial services executives.

‘A fast growing, low tax and bank friendly environment like Singapore stands as a perfect antidote to the comparatively high tax and anti-banker sentiment of London and New York,’ explained Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden.

‘While some commentators have turned a blind eye to it, the increasing mobility of the workforce means that far more London based bankers are now more willing and able to relocate the 6,700 miles to Singapore,’ he said.

‘Young investment bankers, without commitments of a family, now see a move to the Asia-Pacific region as a crucial step up the corporate ladder, rather than a hardship posting. We are increasingly being asked by talented candidates to find them roles in this region,’ he added.

The firm also believes that despite an increasingly tough regulatory environment in Hong Kong and Singapore, reforms in the West such as the Vickers report and the Volcker Rule, are likely to take their toll on New York and London.

‘Financial centres in the West have taken a real battering since the start of the financial crisis. Cities like Singapore and Hong Kong have been quick to capitalise on setbacks in London and New York, courting investment banks and reacting to demand from expats and tourists for facilities such as sporting, music and other international events. This has made them popular destinations for expat investment bankers and hedge fund staff,’ Cameron pointed out.

The survey also found that 60% of bankers surveyed expect the Asia-Pacific region to be the biggest financial services centre in 10 years time and just 20% expect London to be the biggest financial services centre in the next decade.

Some 22% believe Hong Kong will become the largest financial services centre and the same number expect it to be Shanghai, while 16% think it will be Singapore.

The results suggest a big swing in confidence towards Singapore, after not a single respondent in last year’s survey picked Singapore to take over to be the largest financial services centre.

‘Singapore is fast becoming the first port of call for European and US banks and hedge funds to set up in Asia, with its large and established capital market, and close trade links with growth markets like India. Banks and hedge funds continue to shift their focus Eastwards and we expect this trend to continue,’ concluded Cameron.

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