Should you be hiring contractors in the Risk, Compliance & Governance sector?

The gig economy have been proliferating in Singapore for the past few years. Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reported figures that there were about 200,000 freelancers in 2016 and this figure has grown exponentially with increasing opportunities.

Singapore’s workforce is slowly shedding its traditional reluctance towards short-term assignments, and this is largely due to rising pay rates and generous benefits. Additionally, contract models offers organisations the flexibility to better control their headcount and improve their talent strategies. 

In Singapore, there is growing demand for compliance officers and regulatory reporting professionals to keep up with the ever-tightening regulatory changes laid down by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Contrary to common traditions of hiring permanent workers to meet this gap, financial institutions are looking out to hire contractors given the evolving regulatory landscape.

 

How is the regulatory landscape looking?

As technology continues to be embedded in how businesses activities are conducted, regulations constantly need to be fine-tuned to cater to new risks and vulnerabilities. As reported in Refinitiv’s article, 5 to 10 percent of annual turnover, i.e. approximately USD780 million in the financial sector is consumed by costs related to unstructured regulatory frameworks.

Sustainability of these policies is heavily dependent on practising the agile spirit of corporate governance – beyond just mere compliance with the rules. This is the reason why policies and regulations are constantly revised as the regulatory landscape evolves over the years.

 

What are some of the regulatory changes in Singapore?

  • Revisions to Technology Risk Management (TRM) Guidelines

The TRM Guidelines aim to promote best-practice standards to financial institutions in the management of technology risk and business disruption risk. While contravention of these guidelines is currently not a criminal offence, they are encouraged to observe the spirit of these rules.

It is mandatory for financial institutions to comply with the following requirements:

  • Establish and implement robust security for IT systems
  • Ensure updates are applied to address system security flaws in a timely manner;
  • Deploy security devices to restrict unauthorised network traffic;
  • Implement measures to mitigate the risk of malware infection;
  • Secure the use of system accounts with special privileges to prevent unauthorised access
  • Strengthen user authentication for critical systems as well as systems used to access customer information.

 

  • Revisions to Business Continuity Management (BCM) Guidelines

The BCM Guidelines refers to an overarching framework that includes policies, standards, processes and procedures that provides for continuous functioning of the financial institutions during operational disruptions.

MAS is currently proposing to update the BCM Guidelines to raise the standards for financial institutions. This will focus on the development of business continuity plans that will better account for interdependencies across their operational units and linkages with external service providers. Financial institutions will be encouraged to put into place an independent audit programme to regularly review the effectiveness of their business continuity efforts.

What are some projects to look out for in the sector?

  • Standardisation of Practice in Crypto Entities (SPICE)

Singapore’s central bank is raising its guard against money launderers who are increasingly using fraudulent means to mask their transactions. The country’s openness as an international transport hub and financial centre exposes it to cross-border money-laundering and terrorist financing risk. SPICE aims to alleviate this vulnerability by providing:

  • Anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines;
  • Countering the financing of terrorism (CTF) guidelines; and
  • Practical guidance for crypto-asset and blockchain

The above includes know-your-customer (KYC) best practices, as well as other key issues relevant to players in the digital asset industry.

  • Sandbox Express for Faster Market Testing of Innovative Financial Services

MAS has launched the Sandbox Express in August 2019 which aims to provide firms with a faster option to test innovative financial products and services in the market. This is carried out by shortening the approval process for entry into the sandbox by relying on standard disclosures and pre-determined rules.

The Sandbox Express is only suitable for activities where risks are low and well-understood by the market; and can be reasonably managed within pre-defined parameters. Most importantly, experiments can remain in Sandbox Express for up to nine months. This will provide firms with more time to overcome business and technical challenges during the experimentation phase if any, and for MAS to address potential regulatory challenges. Firms can also use the longer duration to better prepare for exiting the sandbox and deploying their innovation on a larger scale.

 

Why should you be adopting a contractor model for hiring?

Following the launch of the above projects and regulatory revisions, organisations are re-evaluating their hiring strategies and taking contract workers into consideration.

The proliferation of technologies is demanding new skill sets in the digital space within risk, compliance and governance. This has raised the demand for compliance staff who are tech-savvy and flexible to take up jobs that are short-term. In line with the sporadic duration of projects within the sector, organisations run the risk of being cost-inefficient if they choose to hire permanent staff. It is more cost effective for organisations to hire specialists on a temporary basis if risk and regulatory needs change quickly.

Ultimately, the contract model also allows people to work flexibly and enjoy a better work-life balance. Contracting can also provide opportunities for them to upskill and make themselves more attractive to employers.

 

We can help

As a strong financial hub in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is in a great position to attract talent from all around the world.

Want to understand the relevant talent in the market better and which organisations are hiring? At Huxley, we are not only committed to source the right talent for your organisation but we also bring you information and insights on current industry trends such as updates on the regulatory and compliance market.

To find out more about talent acquisition strategies within the contract space, please fill in your details in the contact form below or visit us on our website.

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