The vast majority of local banks and financial institutions struggle to recruit good employees and are concerned that the top operators they do have will jump ship, according to a new survey.
The numbers for Singapore are stark, with 93 per cent of those polled saying that they face a talent shortage while 92 per cent are concerned about attrition.
It is the same story in other economies, according to recruitment specialist Robert Half, which surveyed 1,100 leaders in the financial services industry across Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States.
Globally, nearly 90 per cent reported difficulties over recruiting while 83 per cent said that they were concerned about losing top performers this year.
Ms Stella Tang, director at Robert Half Singapore, said financial firms face a market where demand for skilled professionals often outweighs the supply.
"Competition for the industry's top talent has intensified, particularly risk and compliance professionals who continue to be in high demand as companies navigate regulatory shifts while growing their core business."
A DBS spokesman said the war for talent has intensified due to the tight labour market, adding: "Asian banks like DBS remain attractive because we are seen to be safe and stable, and are still expanding. Employee referrals also play a key role in our recruitment strategy."
United Overseas Bank has expanded its management associate programme to include Hong Kong, a move that will deepen the entry-level talent pipeline, said Ms Catherine Chia, its managing director for talent management and business human resources.
Ms Tang added that the challenge of recruiting and retention will only get harder.
"Employers need to enhance their efforts, including offering salary increases and progressive perks, to keep their most valued employees in an increasingly tight manpower market," she said.
Overseas job opportunities, mobility, training and talent development are some of the carrots that many banks are dangling in front of their employees.
DBS, for example, filled more than 75 per cent of its senior positions last year through internal transfers.
Ms Jacinta Low, head of human resource planning at OCBC Bank, said the financial services industry is highly competitive, so employees need to feel they are being valued.
OCBC recently invested $60 million in a regional learning and development hub.
"We believe that an employee engagement programme should look beyond providing employees with a competitive and market- driven compensation package," she added.
"It should also encompass important non-monetary components like career development, progression opportunities as well as quality work-life programmes."