GLOBALLY, the pace of job creation in the banking and finance sector has slowed as banks take a more cautious approach amid uncertain economic growth. This is against a backdrop where Asian investors are increasingly sophisticated, have higher expectations and make greater demands.

This is pushing banking and finance firms to compete to new levels — and the need for top-performing talent to drive their long-term business strategies has never been more crucial.

Yet, retention has always been an issue for the banking and finance sector in Singapore, particularly as employees are now more willing to move to where they have the opportunity to develop their careers.

According to the Q2 Randstad Workmonitor survey, 75 per cent of employees in Singapore see their jobs merely as a means to make a living, and over 70 per cent are willing to change jobs — be it for more money, better career opportunities or a better match of educational backgrounds.

This highlights how employees today have no qualms about making the jump between organisations, particularly if they see themselves benefiting more from other firms.

This puts employers on the losing end as it not only reduces productivity and adds to recruitment costs, but it can affect the morale of other employees within the company.

At the same time, competing solely on financial remuneration — while a common practice in the banking and finance sector — is not sustainable in the long term. This is especially so as firms look to cut back on expenses given the uncertain economic outlook.

In the current climate, it would be a wise move for banks to reinforce their employer brands and build a compelling case as an employer of choice based on both financial and non-financial incentives.

Here are some other ways in which employers in the banking and finance industry can look to retain talent within the organisation.


 Chart growth paths

Career progression is undoubtedly on the minds of high-performing employees who want a sense of assurance and control over their career path.

Yet, amid headcount freezes across the industry, advancements may be less frequent, especially at the senior level. This may force employees to change firms to move up the corporate ladder.

Tailoring career paths for these key employees can be the answer to winning their loyalty and providing them with a sense of stability. Furthermore, providing employees with the opportunity to up-skill and develop cross-functional abilities will keep them relevant, abreast of the times and ahead of their career curve.


Put yourself in their shoes

To know where your firm stands from an employee engagement point of view, you need to be able to see things from the perspective of your employees. What are the reasons for them wanting to stay with the company? What are the areas in which they are not willing to compromise?

And what improvements would they like to see?

Open communication is vital to know what “push” and “pull” factors are inciting your key employees to leave or enticing them to remain within the company.

Managers should be encouraged to have regular sessions with their team members to gain insights into their expectations of the company and their career, and how the organisation is measuring up. Their feedback can then be used to strengthen your retention strategies.


Be part of their lives

The 2013/2014 Randstad World of Work Report found that one of the top three benefits employees look for in an organisation is having flexible working options.

Having work-life balance to make time for family is an issue close to the heart of many Singaporeans.

While it is no secret that this balance is hard to come by in the banking and finance sector, firms can still make the effort to not only allow for personal time, but to celebrate the milestones in each employee’s life.

There are many ways in which firms can do this. It could be allowing time off for employees to celebrate their parents’ birthday, or offering study awards for the top-performing children of employees.

It is the little things that organisations offer that can lead to increased employee loyalty, and the leeway provided to them might in exchange be rewarded with stronger commitment and engagement at work.


Article by Gerard Milligan, strategic account director at Randstad Singapore. For more information, visit