SINGAPORE (Nov 29): Singapore banking salaries are set to grind to a 3% growth rate, falling behind the 4% growth in tech sector salaries for 2017, according to the 2016 Asia Pacific Salary Budget Planning Report by Willis Towers Watson.

This is reflected in Asia Pacific as well, with banking sector salaries set to grow by 4.8% in 2017, the second slowest rate of salary growth among industrial sectors in the survey. The survey received responses from 4,000 respondents across industries and job grades.

"The data, allied with what we're hearing on-the-ground, shows that as traditional banks move services online in the hope of staying competitive, by better meeting customers' evolving demands via digital transformation, they are competing for the same pool of skills as the traditional high-tech sector," says Sambhav Rakyan, Data Services Practice Leader, Asia Pacific, Willis Towers Watson.

As business become more data and technology driven, the competition for talent in technology now comes to the forefront, maintaining tech salaries while others decline.

"What the data is telling us is that, amid a general slowdown in the banking sector and more broadly across the financial services sector, salaries for digital roles within the financial sector are holding steady," says Sambhav.

"It doesn't mean tech talent will necessarily get more in a monetary sense, but it does in percentage terms," he adds.

Banking has now fallen out of favour as an industry of choice among top-tier university graduates according to Greg Kuczaj, Asia Pacific Head, Global Financial Services practice, Willis Towers Watson. Technology firms are increasingly attracting key talent at the mid and senior management position a well due to less regulation, innovative and entrepreneurial work environments and competitive total rewards packages.

"There is continued attraction and retention pressure from non-financial services firms, such as those in high tech or fintech, as the pay premium in financial services has decreased to where it is no longer a major attraction," says Kuczaj. 

In this day and age of digital transformation, therein lies a need to review and redefine talent strategy to identify key skills and differentiate compensation for talent in key roles.

"In Silicon Valley, for example, top talent is often rewarded with equity in addition to a competitive base salary and annual bonus. It's very compelling," says Kuczaj.

"To truly compete, financial services firms will need to think beyond merely using pay to attract and retain talent.  Career opportunities, organisational reputation, security and manager/leadership effectiveness are all critical drivers of attraction and retention," he adds.