KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — Talents who can handle technology and big data are in demand as more Malaysian banking and financial services make the digital shift, recruitment firm Hays said.

Natasha Ishak, senior manager Hays Malaysia’s banking and financial services, noted 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.

“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,” she said in Hays Malaysia’s latest monthly market sector Intelligence report The Inside Story in Malaysia.

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, Hays Malaysia 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.

“In the meantime, adoption rates of e-wallets are fast rising. Although still at its infancy stage, there are many initiatives already launched to educate the masses, such as traditional marketing and in-app incentives,” Natasha said.

Citing a news report last year, Hays Malaysia said 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.


Hays Malaysia 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,” the recruiter said.

Beyond the digital drive, Hays Malaysia said Bank Negara Malaysia’s increased regulation and guidelines has 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.

“Not only does this apply to banks, but also insurance firms with employers vying for the same candidates,” Hays Malaysia said.

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, Hays Malaysia says 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 an edge in the already candidate-driven employment market,” Hays Malaysia said.

In explaining why front office positions in banks has 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, Hays Malaysia said, having cited Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook 2018 which observed Malaysia’s wealth per adult almost quadrupled from US$23,853 (RM99,180) in 2000 to US$93,004 (RM386,710) in 2018.

But 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 differing packages offered by different employers.

With the “worrying talent shortage” potentially threatening banks’ ability to hit their revenue target, Hays Malaysia’s Natasha said: “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.”