As we saw 2012:
• Western eyes remained fixed on market conditions in Asia. However, the enviable conditions were only strong relative to the ongoing challenges in Europe and the US, and the second half of 2012 saw a familiar slow down in investment, development and hiring across the industry.
• Investors and developers remained cautious and hesitant. Some say 2012 was the 5th year of the 5 year investment cycle; others commented that businesses wanted to wait for results/impact of US and Chinese elections, the US fiscal cliff, how the Euro Zone would play out etc. Whatever the reasons, the flow of transactions in the region were relatively limited and our clients continued to focus on extracting maximum value from their assets, holding on portfolios and monitoring asset values across the region closely.
• In Singapore, foreign versus domestic labour was a major political issue. This, combined with the demand for increasingly broad and hands-on Asian experience, as well as relevant languages, led to experienced professionals repatriating westwards and our clients requiring ‘local’ talent.
• Recruitment in Singapore generally focused on regulations, processes and controls. Those in compliance, risk and regulatory roles remained in demand and there was a steady turnover within internal finance teams with professional accounting qualifications becoming increasingly recognised/required. In core real estate, the most common instructions were for analysts, asset managers and leasing specialists; and in construction, cost managers, quantity surveyors and project managers with experience in the technical sectors were in greatest demand.
As we see 2013:
• There is significant capital in the market – predominantly amongst the HNW individuals and the Funds and Developers who have successfully managed to raise capital due to their proven track records in the region. This capital is going to have to be deployed despite a gap remaining between investor and vendor valuations and a number of our clients are seeing H2 2013 as a realistic time for acquisitions and commitment to schemes.
• A flood of transactions is unrealistic but a steady increase is likely and creates a more stable uplift in market conditions. This gradual improvement will mean the continued need for those professionals who provide analysis, diligence and assurance; as well as ensuring the most is extracted from existing assets/portfolios – so asset and development managers will continue to be highly sought after. The difference will be a resurgence of requirements for fund and investment managers and a greater scale of recruitment need across the Real Estate, Construction & Engineering and Finance & Accounting sectors.
If you would like to discuss your requirements or insights into general market conditions, please contact the Singapore team on +65 6829 7224.