Almost 7 in 10 Singapore financial services CFOs are finding it hard to keep up with digitisation, survey finds

  • Close to 7 in 10 Singapore CFOs within financial services say it is challenging for their finance team to keep pace with the rising digitisation of the financial services sector.
  • 58% are implementing training programs to help their staff adapt to new technologies,48% have created new teams specifically for digitisation initiatives, 43% are hiring temporary/interim specialists and 41% are hiring permanent professionals to manage change.
  • The top advantages of innovative technology financial services companies identified included increased productivity (60%), cost savings (51%) and increased efficiency (47%).

Introducing digitisation is no longer a choice for the financial services sector, especially in Singapore, and it seems firms are feeling the strain of needing to adapt to technological change.

According to new research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half, almost seven in 10 Singapore CFOs within the financial services sector are finding it a challenge to keep their finance teams up to speed with digitisation.

More than six in 10 CFOs also say their finance teams are finding it hard to adapt to new technologies implemented by the company, while over a third have found that their finance function lacks the necessary skills to tackle the development and implementation of digitisation measures.

But while the statistics may appear worrying, they are expected in a climate of disruption.

“Nearly every industry is experiencing the disruptive impacts of increasing digitisation and new technologies, and the financial services sector is no exception,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore.

“Even though it is certainly not uncommon for professionals – across all industries – to be reluctant to embrace change, businesses need the right infrastructure and talent to drive this change. A general acceptance across the industry will be necessary for Singaporean companies to reap the advantages of technology disruption and strengthen its competitive position in the region,” he added.

The good news is that the study also found that Singapore’s financial services industry has generally understood the need to leverage the benefits of technology disruption.

As a result, around two-thirds (66%) of CFOs say that their technology budgets are likely to increase over the next five years, while a similar number of them also say that digitisation is already part of their strategy to deal with technology disruption.

Despite an ongoing skills shortage in the industry, 58 per cent of CFOs say they were implementing training programs for staff, while 48 per cent have already created specialised teams to execute digitisation initiatives.

Around 43% are hiring temporary/interim specialists to manage technological change, while 41% are hiring permanent specialists.

And while all this change is happening, it seems that 2017 has become a starting point for many innovation projects at Singapore companies.

A total of 57 per cent of CFOs in the study say they are increasing focus on customer-focused analytics to become more innovative, while 46 per cent are already adopting digital capabilities to meet compliance initiatives.

As a result, 60 per cent of CFOs indicate that their teams have already experienced increased productivity, while 51 per cent and 47 per cent also experienced cost savings and increased efficiency.