The Inside Story of Banking & Financial Services in Malaysia

The Inside Story of Banking & Financial Services in Malaysia

Talent trends in the banking & financial services industry in Malaysia have been constantly shaped by the pressures of traditional banks to invest in new technologies, as competition from fintech firms in the country grow fiercer over time. With two thirds (66 per cent) of banks striving to reach digital maturity by 2020, the heat is on. Digitalisation and automation are not only providing more flexible options for banking consumers in Malaysia, but they are also aiding in the improvement of internal processes.

To add, the number of financial products and services that have moved online in just the last few years is monumental, and this is impacting every aspect of the banking & financial services sector in the country 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.


Virtual banking is fast becoming a reality for the country as industry players await up to three licensing guidelines for virtual-bank ops 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 it is still at its infancy stage, there are many initiatives already launched to educate the masses, such as traditional marketing and in-app incentives. WeChat Pay MY, for example, is leading the way in driving adoption programmes alongside governmental support for the country to make headway towards a semi-cashless system.

As it stands, cashless payments contribute to approximately 20 per cent of total payments in the country, with only half of that involving e-wallets, according to an article last year by The Star. To stay ahead of the curve and to compete with firms looking to unbundle financial services, bankers are urged to do more so they can target niche areas and lure away banking customers.

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.



Furthermore, greater regulation and guidelines from the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has driven up hiring levels of regulatory compliance professionals and roles focused on financial crime protection such as anti-money laundering and investigations at all levels; from junior or entry level, right up to head of department roles. Not only does this apply to banks, but also insurance firms with employers vying for the same candidates.

The regulatory changes are creating new and more defined functions across the entire banking and financial services sector with audit, risk and compliance hires growing tremendously. However, while there is a steady supply of candidates in these areas, mainly furnished by shared services centres, there is a paucity of talent experienced in financial crime divisions. Adding to the challenge are the stringent requirements for hiring such talents due to regulatory restrictions and strict criteria for financial crime personnel.

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.


The past 12 months also saw a boost in demand for front office roles. Relationship Managers and Branch Managers with a wealth experience and Private Bankers are immensely required as the Wealth Management and Private Banking sectors focus on high net-worth and ultra-high net-worth individuals in Malaysia. As reported by Malay Mail, this profile of Malaysian society grows as the “wealth per adult almost quadrupled from US$23,853 (RM99,180) in 2000 to US$93,004 (RM386,710) in 2018,” revealed statistics from the Credit Suisse databook.

However, employers are being challenged by the fact that commission structures for roles are often not clearly defined, making candidates wary of committing to a job offer. More banks on the retail end are creating new branches and sales channels so banking relationship managers have many options in terms of job offers and are becoming increasingly sensitive to any difference in offer packages from one employer to the next.

Be that as it may, the worrying talent shortage poses a potential threat to achieving the target revenues of banks. Hiring managers have therefore been more open to recruiting candidates who do not necessarily have the full set of skills required for the position.

If you would like to discuss this report in more depth or you wish to discuss your job search or recruitment needs, please email Natasha, Hays Senior Manager for banking & financial services at