Islamic banking and a growing investment awareness is building positivity in Malaysia’s Asset Management industry

Following May’s surprise election result there has been a surge in business positivity right across Malaysia. On the forefront of any societal changes – as investors and wealth managers attempt to second guess the markets to their advantage – Malaysia’s asset management industry is seeing cause for optimism, leading to demand for candidates in a number of areas.

The most in demand specialisms in the asset management industry are as follows:
• Product Development
• Fund managers
• Fund accountants
• Research analysts

One area seeing particular positivity is the Islamic banking sector. Malaysia is recognised as the global leader in Islamic finance and, along with Saudi Arabia, has the largest market share of the global Islamic funds and wealth management industry. According to Lee Sue Jean and Aisar Azlan, the respective Consultants specialising in Asset Management and Islamic Finance at Hays Malaysia, this is a situation that is likely to only develop further. “Thanks to a drive spearheaded by the government, Malaysia is the global front runner in Islamic asset management investment and the global Islamic funds industry”. “Because of this, many companies are seeing the opportunities available and are making moves to develop Islamic arms of their operations. This means that the coming year is likely to see a rise in demand for candidates with greater understanding of Sharia law and its terms as it refers to finance.”

Islamic banking is not the only area of the industry to see an increase in positivity. 2017 saw major gains in the Malaysian fund management industry’s assets under management (AUM), and as recent studies show a rise in business optimism throughout the country, wealth managers are seeing now as a good time to invest. This means that specialists in the areas of fund management, fund accounting and compliance are very much in demand.

“There is definitely a candidate shortage in the Malaysian market, especially for fund managers and compliance professionals. While this is great for job seekers in possession of the skills required, it is not so good for staff in companies that are unable to fill roles, as they will be required to shoulder the burden.” Sue Jean notes. “This can lead to disgruntlement and, in worst case scenarios, resignations. Fortunately, the government is looking into ways of rectifying the situation to ensure the continuance of improvement in the industry.”

One such strategy is the creation of the Securities Industry Development Corporation (SIDC), an organisation committed to raising the standard of capital market participants, with the aim of supporting the growth and development of the capital market industry. Companies too are recognising the need for improvement in their employees, and there is a growing trend for the upskilling of their workforce.

“Most of our clients regularly send candidates for training, especially for the more specialist roles,” Sue Jean explains. “This often takes the guise of attending short technical courses, or corporate conferences on a monthly basis, both here in Malaysia or abroad, and even companies with more modest budgets enable select employees to attend, with the intention of them imparting any acquired knowledge on the rest of their department or team upon their return.”

Now is certainly a good time for candidates to take advantage of the myriad of upskilling opportunities on offer as, with the asset management industry continuing on its steady pace of improvement, there are financial gains to be made for the candidates themselves. “Due to the talent shortage, candidates with the level of skillsets required – particularly fund managers – are able to command 25 – 30 per cent salary increases, some way above the national standard of 15 to 20 per cent. “With increases like that, these excellent candidates can be very much justified to share in the optimism that is going around the country right now.”

An overview of what other trends have been observed in Malaysia’s asset management sector can be viewed below.
¥ ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investments are increasingly popular as investors become more informed about the social impact that comes along beyond financial returns.
¥ Government’s push of the development of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) & Private Retirement Scheme (PRS).
¥ For companies and candidates alike, corporate branding is particularly important, and larger companies rely on this as a tactic for both attraction and retention.
¥ Part of this includes digital marketing through the likes of LinkedIn, as well as a reliance on recruitment companies such as Hays.
¥ A strategy for smaller, boutique asset management companies without a substantial brand presence is to attend recruitment fairs to attract fresh graduates and groom them.

Source: Hays