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Demand for tech talent on the rise in Malaysia banks

A recent report by a recruitment firm notes that individuals who possess the skills to deal with technology and big data are in demand. This is because an increasing number of Malaysian banking and financial services are making the digital shift.

The Senior Manager at the Malaysia branch of the firm stated that the digital push has impacted all aspects of the local banking and financial services sector, ranging from product development to contact centres and compliance departments.

It was noted that while monitoring performances based on data derived from manual research is a thing of the past, now it is almost second nature that functions across the board must include digital and consumer analytics.

Noting that FinTech firms are pressuring banks to invest in new technologies and with 66 per cent of banks aiming to achieve digital maturity for next year, the recruitment firm outlined the rapid expansion of financial services going online in the country and the push for virtual banking.

As industry players await up to three licensing guidelines for virtual-bank operations to be issued by Bank Negara by the end of 2019 or as soon as the regulation for the industry is finalised.

Until that time, adoption rates of e-wallets are rapidly on the rise. Although still at its infancy stage, there are many initiatives already launched to educate the masses, such as traditional marketing and in-app incentives.

Citing a news report last year, the firm stated that e-wallets account for only half of cashless payments in Malaysia, which in turn is only about 20 per cent of payments made in the country where many still prefer cash.

The firm indicated that banks are looking to compete with firms that provide digital financial services.

Banks have been keen on creating internal tech teams that include big data, user interface and analytics experts to digitalise both product offerings and internal processes. Network systems project managers and infrastructure applications managers are also in great demand.

Beyond the digital drive, Bank Negara Malaysia’s increased regulation and guidelines have also increased demand for professionals handling regulatory compliance work and those dealing with financial crime protection such as anti-money laundering and investigation roles from junior levels up to head of department positions.

While noting that there is a steady supply of those who can handle audit, risk and compliance work to meet the demands of the banking and financial services sector, the firm notes that there is a lack of experienced talent to deal with financial crime against a backdrop of strict criteria and regulatory restrictions in hiring them.

The latest set of demands for independent credit reviews (ICRs) by the BNM calls for banks to create teams to carry out an additional layer of review.

Credit auditors, credit risk and review experts are, as a result, highly sought after. Risk managers with an aptitude in risk analytics and working knowledge in SAS, SQL and VBA have the advantage in the candidate-driven employment market.

In explaining why front office positions in banks have grown in the past year, Hays Malaysia cited the focus by the wealth management and private banking sectors on clients with high net-worth or ultra-high-net-worth.

This means a demand for private bankers, relationship managers, and branch managers with experience in such areas the firm cited.

However, banks looking to hire such talents face the problem of candidates being hesitant to commit to a job offer as such positions usually do not have clearly defined commission structures, with retail banks increasingly opening new branches and sales channels to broaden options for banking relationship managers and have become more sensitive to different packages offered by different employers.

With the talent pool experience current shortage banks could potentially be unable to hit their revenue target, the firm noted.

The report noted that in order to address talent shortages, hiring managers have therefore been more open to recruiting candidates who do not necessarily have the full set of skills required for the position.

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