Malaysians Score Low in Latest Healthy Living Index

The latest installment of the Healthy Living Index isn’t kind to Malaysians. For 2016, the AIA group polled over 10,000 adults in 15 Asia Pacific nations, and asked them to rate their health status. Among those nations, 73 points was the average rating for satisfaction with health status. Malaysia had 68 points, based on 751 Malaysians polled.

A number of factors combined to keep health satisfaction scores lower. When asked if they felt their health was as good as it was five years ago, 70 percent of Malaysians said no. More troubling is a feeling among younger Malaysians (30 or younger) that their health could be better. A factor that causes concern for future Malaysians is one that shows rising obesity numbers, for both adults and children.

While the fact that many Malaysians feel their health should be better is a positive, different aspects of their lives contribute to the general feeling of unhealthiness. What are some of them?

Poor nutritional habits lead to obesity problems for ALL Malaysians

The number of Malaysians whose weight falls into the “obese” category is now up to 55 percent. Obesity is just one of many outcomes of poor nutritional habits and ideas.

  • Being distracted by computer or smartphone screens while eating – 86 percent
  • Eating unhealthy snacks – 81 percent
  • Preconceptions that “healthy food” is more expensive – 81 percent
  • Late hours for meals – 73 percent
  • Healthy food doesn’t taste very good – 64 percent
  • Healthy foods are more difficult to prepare – 58 percent

Malaysian adults are aware of the need for weight loss. At least 60 percent felt like they needed to lose at least 15 lbs. Many of those adults (17 percent) would like to see their children lose at least 10 lbs. But it’s not just poor nutrition habits that are causing obesity issues in Malaysia.

Too much internet and smartphone and not enough exercise

Just as it has become for the majority of the world, Malaysians are spending too much time staring at screens, and not enough time on physical activity. Sixty-eight percent of Malaysians admitted that they are addicted to online activities, compared to a regional average of 57 percent.

There is a growing fear that the addiction trend will continue, as younger Malaysians, comfortable with the growing aspects of internet activities, mature into adults. Half of the surveyed parents believed that their children were spending entirely too much time in front of a TV screen, computer screen, or playing video games.

Overall, Malaysians admitted to spending 4.1 hours a week in front of a screen (non-work time), and only 2.6 hours in physical activity (compared to 3.5 hours recommended by fitness experts). So poor nutrition, coupled with low amounts of exercise, has led to many Malaysians feeling overweight, but do they understand the health concerns brought about by their condition?

Concern and awareness of obesity-related problems

Malaysians are aware, and concerned, about their health, especially as they age. Most surveyed listed their concerns as: heart issues, diabetes, cancer, and stroke. They also listed concerns about: anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s and senility issues.

Even as they express concern about medical issues, only 46 percent of those surveyed have had a medical check-up over the past year. Sadly, that number has declined recently. Fifty-two percent (also the regional average) had a check-up in 2011. That percentage then dropped to 50 percent in 2013.

Malaysians are aware of the negative trends regarding their overall health. Like most, they express a desire to improve their eating habits and lifestyle choices toward that end. Seventy-five percent say they have taken small steps to improve their health. That is encouraging. However, the same percentage admits to not knowing exactly what steps they should take, and feel they would be able to achieve better results with proper guidance.

As health care costs continue to skyrocket, the people of Malaysia find themselves in a situation similar to other Asia Pacific nations. Their eating and lifestyle habits are causing obesity problems, which can cause serious health problems as they age. The positive to take from this situation is that they are aware of the issues, and would welcome guidance toward a healthier lifestyle. Hopefully that guidance, through an improved and pro-active health care system, can be made available, for the sake of all Malaysians.

Australian job market fares better than expected in May 2016

The job market in Australia did better than expected in May 2016.

17,900 jobs were added in the month, as compared to 800 in April 2016. This beat average analyst expectations of 15,000 jobs and is the third consecutive month in which the number of jobs increased.

However, it is important to note that most of the jobs added in May, were part time jobs.

The rate of unemployment was steady at 5.7%, which is the lowest in 29 months.

Singapore job market report (1Q2016) – Unemployment unchanged. Retrenchment rises for PMETs

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore, recently released their job market report for 1Q 2016.

Here are the highlights:

  • Total unemployment did not change by much as on March 2016, as compared to the previous quarter ended December 2015.
  • For residents over 30 years of age, the unemployment was higher, especially for those above 50.
  • Unemployment was lower for people aged below 30.
  • Total employment and the number of job openings were lower.
  • 70% of the people who were laid-off during the quarter were PMETs (Professionals, managers, executives and technicians).


singapore job market 1q 2016

Resorts World Sentosa lays-off 400 employees

In an effort to cut expenses, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in Singapore is letting go of around 400 employees working in it’s casino.

The casino hasn’t been doing as well recently, due to a lower number of big spenders from China.

RWS employs 12,000 people in total and began the retrenchment process in May 2016. It has been communicating and working with unions and the government, to better manage the process and help displaced employees.

These companies produce most of the Bingo Sites at Boomtown Bingo to take advantage of-either through acquisition or pressing and distribution deals-any upstart labels that do particularly well in the marketplace.

The Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU) and RWS issued a joint statement on the matter:

“With the current business environment, it is necessary for RWS to review the headcount in its gaming business so that it can achieve the right size to meet its business needs.”

“AREU has advised RWS to consider alternative ways of managing its manpower where possible. These could include upskilling employees and redesigning jobs, as well as redeploying affected workers to work in other functions within the company.”

“RWS and AREU have been working together to ensure fair compensation and treatment for the affected employees,” –  AREU Executive Secretary, Desmond Choo.

With the gaming business seeing a slowdown, coupled with losses on investments, Genting Singapore, which runs RWS, posted an 83% year-on-year decline in net profit in 1Q2016.

Fintech funding and jobs in Asia continue to grow

KPMG and CB Insights released the Pulse of Fintech, a quarterly report on the state of Fintech across the world.

The report states that 218 deals worth a total of US$4.9 billion were closed across the globe between January and March 2016 – more than double the US$1.9 billion that was invested into Fintech startups during the last quarter.

A lot of this increase is due to what has been going on in Asia. The continent closed US$2.6 billion worth of deals in investment money, beating the global total raised in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s also more than five times the US$500 million closed in Asia last quarter.

But the numbers are skewed by a few big investments that took place in China, like which raised a series B round of US$1.21 billion, and JD Finance, with a round of US$1.01 billion.

While China continues to drive the majority of investment in the Asian region, other countries are growing their own fintech hubs, including Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Australia.

In total, Asia witnessed 36 deals. Nine deals were struck in China, and 15 in India. The number of early stage investments in Asia grew, however, their average size dropped to US$2 million.

China is not bringing in those small numbers – five of its nine Fintech deals were ranked among the highest in the world.

With 15 closed deals totaling just US$73 million, India’s Fintech investments have been on the smaller side.

Singapore saw a few small deals also, like Call Levels which secured an undisclosed pre-series A round.

Have a look at this chart for information on other deals across Asia.

asia fintech jobs and investment


The top three most active Fintech venture capital funds in Asia were East Ventures, 500 Startups, and Accel Partners, in that order. Banks are also getting more involved.

“Asian banks are increasing their investment and experimentation with Fintech – this is going beyond the traditional accelerators into more long term results driven mechanisms, rather than marketing led publicity campaigns.” – James McKeogh Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG in Hong Kong.

“Fintech entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific are starting to recognize the size of the opportunity outside of their local markets and are increasingly looking for cross border, regional or global expansion opportunities.” – Ian Pollari Global Co-Leader of Fintech, KPMG International and Partner, KPMG in Australia.

So, all in all, if you’re considering a career in the Fintech sector in Asia, the number of companies and jobs available is continuing to grow.

Number of millionaires on the rise in Asia

Private financial wealth globally grew by 5.2% in 2015.

This is as per the BCG annual wealth report, which looks at private wealth in the form of cash, deposits and assets (excluding property).

A big chunk of this growth was due to the Asia Pacific region, which is on course to surpass Europe as the wealthiest region after North America, in 2017.

asia pacific richest people growth

Relatively stronger GDP growth in China and India, led to a big boost in the number of millionaire households in those countries.

This helped the Asia Pacific region to be the only one posting double digit wealth growth (13%).

global and asia wealth growth 2016

In developing markets, including in Asia, new wealth is driving growth. New wealth includes sources such as rising household income, as opposed to existing assets such as equity/bonds.

new wealth driving growth in asia

Similar to other regions, the wealth held by millionaire households is predicted to rise faster than non-millionaire households. This will continue to increase income inequality.

income inquality will rise in asia

Round-up of economic activity and employment in Asia, during May 2016

The Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) measures economic activity (such as output, new orders, prices) and consequently employment growth/contraction.

A number above 50 points towards an economic expansion and below 50 points toward a contraction.

Here is a summary of the PMI numbers for countries in Asia, during May 2016.


India’s Manufacturing PMI, moved up to 50.7 in May 2016, from 50.5 in April.

New orders increased at a quicker pace, and businesses took on more employees, which pushed up the figure.

The headline PMI remained in expansion territory, but recorded one of its lowest readings since the end of 2013, suggesting that the sector is barely improving,” Pollyanna De Lima, an economist at Markit, which compiles the survey, said.

“So far, there is little evidence that the latest cut in the benchmark rate acted to significantly improve business conditions for manufacturers. Therefore, further stimulus may be necessary to shift the economy into a higher gear.”


Singapore’s business activity was largely unchanged in May 2016 with the PMI at 50.1, up from 49.4 in April 2016.

Annabel Fiddes, Economist at Markit,  said:

“Companies reported an improvement in the rate of output growth, albeit modest.

The data suggest that new business was hindered by poor foreign demand, with export sales dropping solidly in the latest survey period.”


The PMI for Hong Kong was 47.2 in May 2016, an increase from 45.3 in April, but below the important 50.0 value for the 15th month in a row.

Annabel Fiddes, said:

“The health of Hong Kong’s private sector continued to decline in May.

However, the headline PMI indicated that the extent of the downturn weakened, with output, new orders and employment all falling at softer rates in the latest survey period.”


Malaysia’s PMI for May came in at 47.2, up slightly from the 5-month low of 47.1 in April 2016.

“The manufacturing sector in Malaysia showed no signs of improving mid-way through the second quarter of 2016,” said Amy Brownbill, economist at Markit.

“Data also suggested that the drop in total new orders was driven by the domestic market, as international demand rose slightly.”


Indonesia’s PMI fell to 50.6 in May 2016, from April’s 50.9.

Slower expansion in new work, coupled with unchanged production volumes pushed the number down.

Pollyanna De Lima, said “May’s stagnation in output is unwelcome news, given that manufacturers have only recently seen the end of a prolonged sequence – 17 months – of contraction in production. Total new orders rose at a weaker pace than in April, while external demand continued to fall.”

However, “The outlook… appears encouraging as businesses continued to take on additional workers and scaled up their buying activity to the greatest extent since July 2014,” she said.


Vietnam’s Manufacturing PMI for May, increased to 52.7 (52.3 in April 2016).

Business conditions have improved in the country, in each of the previous 6 months.

“The strength of new order growth is the highlight from May’s release and should help lead to further improvements in output and employment in coming months,” said Andrew Harker from Markit.

“It is becoming clearer that the recent period of deflationary pressure has come to an end, but Vietnamese firms have so far been able to restrict the extent to which they have raised their output prices. This could change should the rate of cost inflation continue to build,” he added.


The manufacturing PMI in Japan fell to 47.7 in May from 48.2 in April.

The effects of the Kumamoto earthquake continued to heavily impact the goods producing sector, taking the number to its lowest since January 2013.

Amy Brownbill, economist at Markit, said:

“Both production and new orders declined sharply midway through the second quarter of 2016.

A marked fall in international demand also contributed to the drop in total new orders, as exports declined at the fastest rate since January 2013.”

However, “On a more positive note, manufacturers continued to hire additional workers, suggesting that the downturn may ease in coming months.”

Big decline in online hiring activity in Malaysia (April 2016)

As per the Monster Employment Index, online hiring activities in Malaysia reduced by 18% YoY in April 2016.

The index looks at the number of job advertisements , including a breakdown by functions and industries.

In April 2016, none of the areas saw increased online hiring activity.

Employers pulled the reins on hiring activity, due to the curbs on recruitment of foreign employees and sluggish Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) numbers, according to Sanjay Modi (MD at

“Sectors affected were the construction, shipping and logistics sectors, where hiring numbers have been hit as reflected in the data. Now that the ban on foreign workers is semi-lifted, we can expect companies to continue hiring in the months to come to cope with job demands.

Furthermore, with no additional hikes in oil prices, the oil and gas sector is likely to continue trimming its workforce until the market becomes well-adjusted to new oil prices,” said Sanjay.

Here are the year on year growth numbers for a few sectors and jobs:

  • Advertising, public relations, market research, media and entertainment sector, -4%
  • Logistic, shipping/marine, courier/freight/transportation sector, -35%
  • Marketing & communications professionals, -1%
  • Software, hardware and telecom jobs, -38%

Banking jobs in Hong Kong that offer double-digit pay increases

Although it is rare nowadays, several jobs in the banking and financial field in Hong Kong, offer double digit pay increases, when taking on a new job with a bank.

eFinancialCareers reached out to recruiters in Hong Kong, to put together a list of such jobs/departments.

Both compliance and anti-money laundering departments can give the most significant pay raise, each providing a 25 percent salary increase.

The know your customer department was close behind, giving employees a 24 percent rise.

Private banking RM’s can see a 23 percent jump in salary, followed by 22 percent for those who specialize in the internal audit field.

Corporate banking RM’s have potential for a 20 percent increase in pay while the credit analysis, credit risk, and market risk departments are often receiving a rise of 18 percent.

Employees concerned with regulatory reporting wrapped up the top ten list with a pay increase of 13 percent.

The survey results suggest that there is a high demand for candidates in compliance roles, especially those which focus on private banking and anti-money laundering. This creates strong competition between banks, for well qualified candidates, leading to the significant raise when switching employers.

Know your customer (KYC) expertise is also in demand and private/corporate banks need such expertise to deal with new clientele and the more stringent account opening requirements.

As far as front office employees are concerned, relationships managers in both private and corporate banks routinely receive a decent rise in pay. Private banks average a raise of up to 23 percent, but candidates who possess an unusually strong portfolio size have recently received as much as a 40 percent increase when making a career move.

However, relationships managers who are willing to accept what are known as “bumper salaries”, may end up putting themselves in a position they do not want to be in. Accepting these salaries may lead to them having to struggle in order to meet extremely onerous revenue targets, 12 to 18 months later down the road.

Lackluster job market and salary growth in Australia (April 2016)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its commentary for April 2016, covering the job market and salaries in Australia.

The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at around 5.7%. However, youth unemployment is at 12.3% and youth underemployment is at 20.3%.

There was an increase of 20,200 in the number of part time employees and the full time employment figure reduced by 9,300.

According to FTI Consulting, approximately 10,300 business entered into insolvency/administration in the 12 months to March 2016. This is a year on year increase of 18%.

Some of the more publicized insolvencies include Queensland Nickel, Dick Smith (electronic retail chain), Laura Ashley (furnishing and fashion retailer), Arrium (iron ore), Round the World Experts (travel division), Quickflix (video on demand), Brand New Media (marketing company) and Animal Supplies Group (pet supplies distributor).

In the quarter ending March 2016, wages increased by 0.4% in the private sector and 0.5% in the public sector. According to the ABS, this is the slowest quarterly wage growth in the last 18 years.

  • Media, IT, telecom and real estate industries saw wage growth of 0.1%.
  • Training and education witnessed a 1% increase.
  • Postal, transport and warehousing saw wage increases of 0.7% in the March quarter.
  • Mining wages increased by 1.4%.

ANZ cutting jobs across several functions in Singapore

We recently reported that Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is cutting jobs and selling stakes in many ventures in Asia.

As per Today Online, who spoke with sources from the bank, ANZ has retrenched around 50 people from several functions in Singapore, since February 2016.

This includes people from departments such as retail banking, marketing, wealth management, and business banking.

“There have been cuts across the board,” said a relationship manager with ANZ.

Another source from the bank who is employed in backend operations said: “This could be the time of the year where the bank decides to lay the axe. I just go to work looking at it on a day-by-day basis, not knowing if this will be the day it will happen to me.”

In Singapore, ANZ employs around 2,200 people in total.

Layoffs Imminent in Banking, Technology and Oil Firms

Layoffs are a harsh reality of the business cycle and of a difficult economic climate. Euphemistically called “restructuring” by PR departments, they have a human toll on employees and an inevitable one on company morale. But there may be a silver lining for them – why stay mired in a job where one may be unappreciated? Being let go can be the beginning of a new journey for many who could live up to their true potential elsewhere. And be happier.

These were some of the recent layoff announcements.


UBS has laid off a handful of private bankers in recent weeks. According to Reuters, the layoffs included Joseph Poon, a senior executive catering to the super-rich in Southeast Asia.

J.P. Morgan is restructuring its private banking division to handle a smaller pool of high-net-worth individuals, and cutting about 100 jobs. It recently cut 5% of its workforce in Asia, affecting 30 employees in the Singapore and Hong Kong offices.

Nomura cut 30 jobs from its equities division in April 2016. These cuts were in Asia outside of Japan, and followed a dozen layoffs from their Asia investment banking unit in March.


Foxconn has replaced 60,000 workers with industrial robots. Its factory in China that makes iPhones (and other devices) has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000.

IBM is cutting about 14,000 jobs globally as it transitions from a software and services business to a cloud company. However, it is looking to fill 25,000 positions (of which only 7,000 have been advertised) in cloud and cognitive computing, supercomputing, data analytics and cybersecurity.

Nokia is likely to cut 10,000 to 15,000 jobs globally after its acquisition of its Franco-American rival Alcatel-Lucent. The company declined to reveal how it would impact those in Singapore or Malaysia.

Microsoft will streamline their smartphone hardware business, impacting 1,850 jobs globally – 1,350 jobs in Finland as well as another 500 jobs in other parts of the world.


Royal Dutch Shell will cut at least another 2,200 jobs due to low oil prices, with 475 of those coming from its UK and Ireland oil and gas production business. The firm announced 7,800 job cuts last year and another 2,800 at the beginning of this year. This latest wave will take the total number of job cuts by Shell in 2015-2016 to at least 12,500, equal to the entire workforce of Facebook!

UMW Oil and Gas Corporation has cut 300 jobs in Malaysia, mainly in rig operations, also due to low oil prices. The company currently has 736 employees, about a third of which comprise contract staff.