The banking and financial services jobs market is slowly turning a corner after a relatively flat year of growth in 2017 in the UAE. Banks are back hiring again in 2018 with a modest increase of 2.1% on job opportunities compared to last year. The most notable areas of growth in the banking sector have come in technology roles within finance where the move to online, smart, digital banking continuing to gather pace. Back office credit risk roles and collections were in demand in 2017 and this is set to continue in 2018. There has been a decrease in demand for compliance roles and demand for front office and relationship manager roles remaining flat.
With a lack of abundant roles becoming available, competition is high for those that do come up. Less and less international talent is coming into the UAE market with a preference for domestic talent where there is a large and available talent supply. 2016 and 2017 saw more ex-pats leave the UAE compared to previous years but 2018 will see more stability. The Central Bank has introduced a new points system for hiring UAE Nationals and 2018 will see more Emiratis occupying head of and managerial positions than ever before.
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The rise of FinTech in the United Arab Emirates is set to have both a positive as well as negative effect on the compliance and regulatory jobs market in 2018. The Abu Dhabi Global Market, (ADGM) which has become a hub for FinTech in the MENA region, will launch its FinTech innovation centre in the first half of 2018. The DFSA has also announced its plans to allow FinTech firms to apply for Financial Services Licences. As banks continue to move towards these new innovative technology platforms to conduct business, we see the KYC and onboarding functions in compliance become redundant, with a huge drop in demand for these roles. Anti-Money Laundering and Compliance Officers remain in high demand, particularly those specialised in compliance policy and regulation, as both the Central Bank and the DFSA have become more stringent when it comes to financial services firms regarding the criteria for this critical function. Compared to last year, the number of job opportunities available has remained relatively flat, with a slight increase of one or two percentage points.
As part of cost-cutting measures and to promote talent within the organisation, banks have looked to internally transfer staff into the compliance function from other departments. This has been particularly evident with UAE Nationals, where there is a shortage of supply of regulatory talent. As a result, internal departmental transfers have proved a success. Just six percent of Heads of Compliance in the UAE are Emirati. As part of gender and diversity strategies, human resource departments are seeing the need to promote more females to the top job, in line with the fact that just one in five Heads of Compliance being women in the banking sector in the UAE, according to the Cooper Fitch Report. The supply of compliance talent is, by and large, coming from the local Gulf market, with a reluctance for banks to recruit internationally due to the increased costs associated with such hires.
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