Singapore - SA offer

Hey guys,

I have an SA IBD offer outstanding with a BB in Singapore and was hoping some people with experience would be able to shed some light on it:

1.) Banking-related: What is the banking scene like in Singapore? I understand HK is the hub in Asia but does Singapore offer a comparable experience?

2.) Lifestyle: For those of you who've had the chance to live there, how would you characterize the city's lifestyle? (i.e. are the girls fun, how's the nightlife etc...)

3.) Exits: What are analysts at BBs over there doing after their 2-3 years (associate-promote, PE/HF)? More importantly, if I ever wanted to come back to the States would it be likely that I'd have to re-route through an MBA or is it fairly easy to transfer my position transatlantic?

Thanks, appreciate the help.

P.S. - No need to mention how delicious the food is over there, I'm well aware of that :).

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Comments (15)

Jan 24, 2009 - 11:50am

1.) Banking is quite small - offices are generally around ~25 people. They take maybe 3 interns each year, and will likely give out 0-1 FT offers. If they give out an offer, it means that an analyst is about to get canned, so you better out-perform the FT'ers. Almost all activity is centered around real estate, which is why Singapore is suffering hard right now - almost no work to be done.

2.) Nightlife can be fun on Weds, Fri, and Sat nights. It's not like NY where you can go out any night of the week. If you go to the club on a Thurs. night, you can literally find at most 10 people in it. Good news is that the girls are fairly open to meeting new people - but this is true anywhere, not just Singapore.

3.) Most become associates sans MBA. Very limited PE/HF activity over there. Very unlikely that you'd be able to relocate to the States, and they will not hire you FT if they realize that these are your intentions.

Food is average, at best.

Jan 24, 2009 - 12:34pm
2.) Lifestyle: For those of you who've had the chance to live there, how would you characterize the city's lifestyle? (i.e. are the girls fun, how's the nightlife etc...)

I've been to Singapore so many times that I've practically lived there, and can tell you with certitude that if you're caucasian, you're going to have an easy time getting laid. There are many fun tourist spots you can visit, like Sentosa island etc, overall, it's just an amazing place to live in.

Jan 24, 2009 - 3:29pm

Typical inbred white-supremacist ignorant response. For some reason, American society believes that there's a premium on whites over Asians. I can assure you this mentality isn't shared in Singapore.

Jan 24, 2009 - 4:15pm

I was born in another country but I grew up in Singapore, and I think the food is great.

To answer your questions based on my knowledge of Singapore:

1) Banking scene is small. Dealflow will definitely be lower than in Hong Kong. The more prominent industries in Singapore are chemicals, semiconductors manufacturing and pharma manufacturing. Regionally, oil, energy and agriculture is big in Indonesia and Malaysia. I can't speak for banking work, but I'd expect it to revolve around the industries in the region.

2) Nightlife is good, but definitely not comparable to NYC or HK. Relatively lower cost of living as compared to HK will make your money go further.

3) I have no idea what the exits might be. Maybe funds in HK?

One important thing however, is that Singapore's GDP is expected to contract 2-5% in 2009, becoming the worst performing country in Asia. It's bound to have an effect on dealflow and hiring.

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Jan 24, 2009 - 4:54pm

Having worked in Singapore before, I can tell you that investment banking is definitely not that big over there. The major action is in Fixed income, currencies and commodities. I have met people who have made exits from investment banking into small branches of big funds in Singapore; especially hedge funds more than private equity. Lifestyle is good, but for nightlife there is just one place which is Clarks Quay which is sort of a huge strip with clubs and bars etc. You have a mix of girls there, but mostly from Malaysia and Thailand. The food is pretty good but you can expect to put on a lot of weight. Money in Singapore is great. Two countries where you can save the most amount of money; Singapore and Dubai and sometimes in Hong Kong if you find a good place to live. I know people who have transferred from Singapore offices to London offices but be aware of the fact that a transfer will only work if someone from the other office is willing to transfer to Singapore (Sort of like an exchange program in college). Analysts do get promoted to Associate after three years (sometimes two) and there is no need for an MBA. The hours in Singapore are not that bad. Hong Kong has terrible work hours (worse than New York). If you want to transfer to the USA for sure, then you will most likely have to do it through an MBA but you may still be able to pull it off if you have good contacts etc. The economy is also expected to contract by 5% or so. There are lots of Indians in Singapore. All in all, you might get bored of the place in a year or so. New York is still King when it comes to night life and exit opportunities even though you might save more in Singapore. Oh and the weather sucks!!! It can get very sultry and it rains a lot. If you like cold weather then tough luck.

Jan 24, 2009 - 5:06pm
Typical inbred white-supremacist ignorant response. For some reason, American society believes that there's a premium on whites over Asians. I can assure you this mentality isn't shared in Singapore.

I can assure you it is. I have spent 7 years of my life in that region and have seen several old, fat, balding white men dating very attractive asian women. I attended an international school and many of the white guys I knew from Austraila/Europe/USA got a lot of attention from asian women in bars, lounges, nightclubs etc. There is this perception of white men that associates them with wealth, and many women there automatically assume that the white guy is some sort of millionaire.

The point i was trying to make in my previous post is that many Singaporean/Indonesian/Malaysian women will date white men simply because they're white, and for the reasons i mentioned above.

I am neither white nor american...

Jan 25, 2009 - 12:09pm

No, the major action is not in FICC - you say this only because you worked in FICC. Ask an ops analyst where the major action is and he'll say clearing trades. Ask a janitor where the major action is and he'll say cleaning toilets. I worked in BANKING in Singapore, and I will tell you that half of the IB office is dedicated to work solely on real estate deals. The place is fun for 6 months, but I wouldn't do my analyst stint there.

quag_mire, you're been on the outside looking in for your entire life. Try talking to a native Singaporean for once about their sentiments regarding the expat community. Try speaking with local girls, and not those you find in Geylang, for their opinions.

Jan 25, 2009 - 1:25pm

"I worked in BANKING in Singapore, and I will tell you that half of the IB office is dedicated to work solely on real estate deals."

In the future, do you see that changing? Obviously you can't predict business industry trends but any feedback/thoughts in this matter would be helpful. I too heard that most deals were in the real estate and financial services sectors.

Jan 25, 2009 - 4:30pm

I have studied in Singapore for a year, did my SA stint there and got an FT offer. This is in S&T, don´t know much about banking.

The weather: I thought it was fantastic and don´t agree with the "it rains a lot" comment. I rains of course, it´s the tropics, but usually it just rains really hard for 1-2 hours and then it is sunny again. Except for maybe in December, but I only had very few days when it would rain constantly. There was plenty of sunshine in my experience. It´s the same weather all year round, and coming from a cold place...I loved it!

Night life: Agree with comments above (minus the Asian women comment). Generally I found it easy to have a good time, but I guess it depends on what you are looking for. Holland Village is also not bad. On another note, it´s really easy and cheap to do short weekend trips to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Lifestyle: People in Singapore are generally very type A with everything they do and most people work long hours. In terms of S&T I did find that HK was a bit more hardcore than Singapore...don´t know about banking.

Transferring: At least at my bank I met a couple of people who had started off in Singapore and then transferred to NYC and London. Interestingly they all are back in Singapore and said they wanted to return. And why not? Taxes are really low and the lifestyle is great (also for people with families).

Jan 25, 2009 - 4:56pm

A neat, albeit fictionalized and outdated, look into the life of a trader in south east asia is in "Rogue Trader." (Ewan McGregor, Anna Friel - 1999).

It's about how Nick Leeson single-handedly took down Barings Bank (the oldest investment bank in the UK) by covering up his trading losses.

I guess it probably won't have much in common with today's environment, but it's a fun movie and not many people have seen it.

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Jan 25, 2009 - 6:21pm

A lot of Singapore offices hire US candidates and UK candidates. At least in my SA class, we had a lot of overseas candidates and a few local Singaporean candidates from Singapore management university and Nanyang Tech. Most of the overseas candidates are usually international students who basically go to college in the US (good schools too like Cornell, MIT etc.) I will agree with the fact that Singapore is good families because of the high savings rate. As an analyst, as I mentioned before, if your main intentions are saving more than anything else, then yes Singapore is a good choice. I personally hated the weather but opinions can differ I guess.

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