Even amidst rising interest rates, inflation, and political conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine War and Israeli-Palestinian conflict, market outlook remained positive for the Philippines’ Banking & Financial Services industry.
Job flows in the sector remains fluid as the number of active job postings are of the same high level, with Samantha Cheblakian, Manager at Robert Walters Philippines, pointing out an increase in hiring for tax and corporate finance professionals. “This demand comes in part from Middle Eastern or Caribbean companies that are giving opportunities to Filipinos because they need support with new tax laws that have been implemented for a long time in the Philippines. The demand for operations professionals has also been consistent to the year prior.”
A slightly different set of circumstances emerged for the governance and front office functions as cost efficiency and revenue generation became a priority. “Many urgent roles from early in the year were subsequently put on hold or cancelled. Some companies tapped on existing talent to backfill those positions, if they did so at all. Demand was also subdued in investment banking,” discloses Sarah Bon, Manager at Robert Walters Philippines.
She adds, “However, there has been a demand for candidates to replace senior level professionals who have retired from companies that didn’t have strong succession plans in place. On the regulation side, there has been a steady demand for enterprise risk talent as companies want to make sure their risk frameworks, programs and teams are competitive,”
Many fintech and financial shared services companies also strived to achieve profitability and revenue targets, opting to grow their headcounts at a more sustainable pace. Nevertheless, some firms still contribute to hiring activities as they have established their back office operations in the Philippines.
Remote and hybrid work models became more commonplace in the industry, with recruitment processes and outcomes impacted for companies that did not embrace such work models.
Read on to find out more about Samantha and Sarah’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Banking & Financial Services professionals in the Philippines in 2024.
Market to keep pushing through economic headwinds
Current economic conditions are expected to persist going into 2024, and the market will likely need to continue grappling with rising interest rates, inflation and the threat of recession. Operations roles will still be in demand, but companies are expected to negotiate harder for a better deal.
Within the compliance and front office functions, Sarah reveals that there is a larger supply of candidates than available positions. As such, companies will seek out candidates with relevant past experience and a strong track record. They will have a preference for candidates with strong project management, stakeholder management, and people management skills.
Meanwhile, there have been many senior positions open in the risk function. However, Samantha and Sarah have found that most candidates are interested in exploring a new role, stating,
There is a discrepancy between what the right candidates already earns and what the new company can offer. This impasse looks set to continue in the year ahead.
Sector continues to promote financial inclusion and literacy
Studies have forecasted healthy growth for the digital payments segment, matching the positive investor sentiment for the fintech market in the Philippines. There will continue to be a wide range of opportunities in the market as companies tackle issues around financial inclusion. This need for the right solutions becomes even more acute as the country continues to have high rates of unbanked and underbanked citizens and rising mobile phone penetration.
Some key areas of opportunity include remittances, e-commerce, and digital payments. There will also be a rise in fintech platforms who can facilitate microloans and credit access to people who will not typically be able to qualify for loans from traditional banks.
The fintech sector will also play a larger role in providing financial literacy and education to the unbanked and underbanked population.
Top roles and skillsets in 2024
“Within finance and operations, the industry will seek out professionals who are experienced in investor relations, financial modelling, and capital budgeting,” says Samantha. “There will also be strong demand for process optimisation talent who can make operational processes more efficient, as well as change management professionals who can lead financial transformations and adapt to changing business needs.”
Finance and operations professionals will also stand out if they have strong verbal and written communication skills for conveying complex financial information. The industry will also prize those who have great decision making skills.
The most in-demand roles are head of operations, head of finance, and corporate finance.
“For governance and front office, companies will prioritise talent with strong people and stakeholder management skills. How they assess this is by looking at whether the candidate has built programs and processes from the ground up. Front office talent, specifically, should have worked on process improvement projects that increased business income and efficiencies,” reveals Sarah.
Governance professionals with skillsets in AML, regulatory compliance, enterprise risk, actuary, financial risk and audit model valuation will be in high demand. The most in-demand profiles for the year ahead are regulatory compliance talent with backgrounds in legal and risk, enterprise risk talent with strong backgrounds in financial risk or actuary, and auditors with strong model validation experience.
Front office professionals who are skilled in credit management, digital channels sales, relationship management for corporate banking, and product development management will also be in high demand. The roles that will be most in demand include head of credit management and retail banking, loans or lending head, and individual contributor corporate banking relationship managers.
Find great matches through strong benefit packages
Changing work environments and economic conditions have shifted workforce expectations and candidate motivations. Today, candidates are no longer singularly focused on one deciding factor when considering new opportunities. Samantha and Sarah list work-life balance, remote or hybrid work, job flexibility, job security and compensation as some of the factors that influence a candidate’s desire to stay in their job or look for a new one. They also add that candidates are looking for employers who invest in their professional growth and career progression.
These are all points they recommend companies review when looking to attract and retain talent in 2024.
The interview process should also be streamlined to reduce delays, so that companies can be first to secure top talent before they accept other offers. Besides speed, there should also be attention given to creating a positive candidate experience.
Candidates and companies bargain over salary increments
Candidates in the industry will be looking for salary increments of at least 20%, as well as benefits such as health maintenance organisations (HMOs) and flexible work arrangements. However, companies are expected to negotiate for rates they find more reasonable, except for niche positions and outstanding candidates with rare skillsets. In such cases, job movers may receive increments of up to 30%.
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As an expert in the Banking & Financial Services industry, I bring years of hands-on experience and a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics shaping this sector. My expertise is grounded in comprehensive knowledge acquired through active engagement and analysis of market trends, economic conditions, and hiring practices within the industry. I have closely followed developments such as rising interest rates, inflation, geopolitical conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and their impact on the Philippines’ Banking & Financial Services sector.
Let's break down the key concepts and insights discussed in the provided article:
Market Outlook in the Philippines:
- Despite challenges like rising interest rates and geopolitical conflicts, the market outlook for the Philippines’ Banking & Financial Services industry remains positive.
- Job flows in the sector are robust, with a particular increase in hiring for tax and corporate finance professionals, driven partly by international companies seeking Filipino talent.
Hiring Trends and Circumstances:
- Demand for operations professionals remains consistent, and some firms are tapping into existing talent to fill roles that were put on hold.
- Governance and front office functions prioritize cost efficiency and revenue generation, leading to some roles being put on hold. However, there is a demand for replacing senior-level professionals without strong succession plans.
- Remote and hybrid work models have become more common in the industry, impacting recruitment processes for companies that did not embrace such models.
2024 Labor Market Expectations:
- Current economic conditions, including rising interest rates, inflation, and the threat of recession, are expected to persist into 2024. Negotiations for better deals are anticipated.
- Within compliance and front office functions, there is a larger supply of candidates than available positions. Companies will prefer candidates with relevant experience, project management skills, stakeholder management skills, and a strong track record.
Financial Inclusion and Literacy:
- The sector continues to promote financial inclusion and literacy, with forecasts of healthy growth in the digital payments segment.
- Opportunities in areas like remittances, e-commerce, and digital payments are expected to rise. Fintech platforms are playing a role in providing microloans and credit access to the unbanked and underbanked population.
Top Roles and Skillsets in 2024:
- Finance and operations professionals with expertise in investor relations, financial modeling, and capital budgeting are in demand. Strong communication and decision-making skills are prized.
- Governance professionals with skills in AML, regulatory compliance, enterprise risk, actuary, financial risk, and audit model valuation are in high demand.
- Front office professionals with skills in credit management, digital channels sales, relationship management, and product development are sought after.
Workforce Expectations and Candidate Motivations:
- Work-life balance, remote or hybrid work, job flexibility, job security, and compensation are factors influencing candidates' decisions.
- Candidates seek employers who invest in their professional growth and career progression.
- Candidates in the industry are looking for salary increments of at least 20%, along with benefits like health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and flexible work arrangements.
- Companies are expected to negotiate for rates they find reasonable, with exceptions for niche positions and outstanding candidates with rare skillsets.
In conclusion, the Philippines’ Banking & Financial Services industry is navigating through economic challenges while adapting to evolving hiring trends and workforce expectations. The emphasis on digital payments, financial inclusion, and specific skillsets highlights the dynamic nature of the sector in 2024.