WITH every business year come new highlights and lowlights in key career trends.

After in-depth research and interviews with specialist recruiters for critical insider knowledge on career insights and salary trends, here are some projections for the year ahead:

Offshoring and onshoring

The movement of roles in and out of Singapore will be vital to industries across the board, in particular, banking, information technology (IT) and telecommunications.

In 2012, large numbers of back office banking staff moved to lower-cost locations like India, Manila and Poland.

This was seen mainly in operations and junior production roles. Specialist professional recruitment consultancy Robert Walters expects this trend to continue this year.

Hence, the global banks will also be moving senior management into Singapore to establish a regional hub and work closer with the business in Asia.

A similar trend is likely to be observed in IT and telecommunications. With large data centres, application development and support functions shifted to countries such as India and Malaysia, technical roles such as developers and engineers will also be offshored.

Attracting the best

Talent is the core of every organisation and there will be tougher competition for top candidates in the coming year.

After all, making a bad hire is more costly than paying premium for a high performer.

For example, last year, financial services firms invested in highly competent corporate and transaction bankers who were experienced enough to bring in more revenue and maintain good relationships with corporate clients.

This trend of plowing more money and time into the perfect employee will see employers conducting more rounds of stringent interviews and hiring only when all the prerequisite skill sets are met.

Top talent retention

After recruiting the industry’s choice cuts, the next challenge is in keeping them.

Employers recognise that job seekers today are not just after monetary gratification.

The prospect of better skills training, regional opportunities, work-life balance and the company’s reputation weigh in almost equally.

With this in mind, we can expect more employers to offer better employment packages.

This can include a charted career path, external work-life balance benefits such as gym memberships and upskilling programmes.

The option to work flexible hours from home will also be available for professionals with family, in particular, those in the IT space.

Learning and development

With holistic employment terms becoming increasingly important, there will be increased demand for more human resource specialists — in particular, practitioners with a combined portfolio of skill sets such as strategic and operational capabilities, talent development and compensation and benefits.

They will be essential in designing internal company incentives that are attractive enough for new talent.

Participating in additional courses and training sessions has become so important that professionals are making lateral moves or accepting marginal salary increases when switching jobs in the pursuit of skill development. This trend is expected to continue in 2013.

More MNCs

With more multinational corporations (MNCs) setting up their shared services hubs in Singapore, this will fuel an increased demand for accounting and finance candidates skilled in commercial decision support, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and financial control.

To support the growing number of new offices, human resource professionals with start-up and South-east Asian experience will be required. 

Growing Asian wealth market

With Asia hosting the fastest growing number of millionaires globally, private bankers with an active list of ultra-high net worth clientele from emerging markets such as China, Indonesia and Indonesia will be highly sought-after.

In this thriving market, private banking will continue to grow and give rise to more boutique players entering the market.

The top performers within this sector are expected to receive salary increments of up to 50 per cent when moving jobs.  

The release of QFLP licences

Foreign law firms will benefit the most, as those awarded the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences will be allowed by the Singapore Government to practise corporate law from this year.

There will be a likely increase in demand for lawyers in niche areas such as arbitration, insurance, private wealth and shipping.

This will subsequently drive the need for legal secretaries with at least three to five years’ professional experience.

Requirements will be stringent — including audio typing and shorthand skills coupled with business partnering skills — in order to work closely with the business.

Due to the shortage of such high-performing talent, law firms will be willing to pay 10 per cent higher salaries to attract the qualified.