DBS, OCBC preferred by women as employers

Singapore - MORE women than men prefer working for DBS Group Holdings and OCBC Bank, a survey among finance professionals has found.

DBS came in fourth on the list of top 10 Ideal Asian Financial Services Employers for women, behind Google, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan; in the top 10 list for men, the Singapore bank was ranked eighth.

OCBC sneaked in at No. 9 as an employer of women; it didn't figure in the top 10 as an "ideal" employer among men.

As an overall employer, DBS was sixth in Asia's Top 20. GIC came in 14th, and OCBC, 17th.

The survey, done by eFinancialCareers, tracks the employers financial-services professionals say they most admire and want to work for.

The research was carried out between October and December 2015 and took in responses from more than 6,500 finance professionals globally. Of that number, 2,000 were from Asia.

The responses from Singapore made up some 60 per cent of the Asian responses, with the remaining coming from Hong Kong.

DBS spokeswoman Edna Koh told The Business Times: "At DBS, we are known for embracing diversity and inclusion. We are gender blind, with compensation based on skills and capabilities rather than gender. When HR and talent-management processes are gender-bias free, as it is with our organisation, women perhaps notice it more than the men."

Neil Clark, marketing director for global engagement at eFinancialCareers, named competitive salaries as the factor behind the tendency for women to rate the two Singapore banks more favourably than the men.

Among female finance professionals, he said, DBS compared reasonably equally for salary with the two big US banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan; this was most important criterion, at 67 per cent; in other areas, DBS compared sometimes favourably, which is how it came to rank so highly among women.

"However, for male finance professionals, DBS is a long way behind on salary perception (49 per cent). It outscores the 'Big 2' in areas which are relatively less important to men," said Mr Clark. In salary, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Google got 86 per cent, 77 per cent and 76 per cent respectively.

"For men, it's very much the salary," he said, adding that the women rated DBS as doing OK on salaries and better in other "softer attributes".

For instance, where women gave Goldman Sachs only 11 per cent on manageable working hours, DBS got 62 per cent. Goldman Sachs males voted 13 per cent for manageable working hours, while their male DBS peers scored 51 per cent.

Finance professionals can forget about work-life balance, especially if they eye jobs in the major international banks.

Goldman Sachs has "protected Saturdays", which require all analysts and associates to leave the office at 9pm on Fridays and not return until 9am on Sunday. But just 13 per cent of respondents who voted for the bank said "manageable" working hours were a strength, the survey found. Goldman is said to require 72.4 hours a week on average from its employees.

The allure of Goldman Sachs is well-known. It attracts 267,000 job applications annually and hires just 3 per cent.

Asian respondents cited "competitive salary" as the most important criteria in selecting their ideal employers. Although more than 80 per cent of respondents in all markets said this was important, only in Asia did it top the rankings, noted Simon Mortlock of eFinancialCareers.

Talent shortages in Hong Kong and Singapore have recently enabled many candidates to negotiate for big pay rises when changing companies, thus perpetuating a salary-driven job market, he said.

Respondents in the US and UK (83 per cent and 84 per cent respectively) voted for "challenging/interesting work" as their No. 1 most important criteria for an ideal employer. "The proportion slumps to 71 per cent in Asia, where financiers are less worried about whether stimulating tasks come across their desks," he said.


This article was first published on March 9, 2016.
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