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Tuesday January 15th 2019

Local accountant used to earn $10,000 as CFO now works as accounts manager with half the pay and vow to vote against PAP

Dear Gilbert,

I wish to share with you my bitter experience while seeking for a job after being made redundant.

Over the last 12 years I was a Chief Financial Officer with a reputable Japanese logistics firm. Last year the company announced that they will be relocating their HQ to Vietnam. I opted for an early retirement scheme, confident that I will be able to secure a new job since I have a long list of credentials and educational qualification to support me.

I am a 52-year old Chartered Accountant, possessed an accounting degree from a well- known university in UK, hold an MBA and possessed more than 19-years of professional experience. My last income with the firm is slightly less than S$10k per month.

With my resignation thus begin my ordeal in searching for a new job. I did everything to secure an interview – registering my name with e2i and other jobs portal, attended job fairs, wrote directly to employers and registering my name with several employment agencies.

For the first 8 months I did not receive a single phone call after submitting more than 300 applications. I spoke to several former colleagues and everyone told me that it is almost impossible to secure a job because the market is flooded with “foreign talents” that will accept less than half of the local salary’s expectation.

I panicked but remained resolute that I will work harder to secure at least few interviews. My application became more intense as I set targets on the number of applications I plan to send out on a daily basis.

In April 2014, I read about the government’s job bank portal and I was relieved to hear that all organizations must register their employment needs at this portal before they are permitted to employ foreigners. I felt rejuvenated with a false impression that the government has finally come to its senses and decide to impose policies that will put Singaporeans first.

Later I realized that the job bank portal is just a smokescreen to appease Singaporeans because companies simply need to post their job requirement for about 2 weeks and thereafter they can recruit foreigners without impunity.

Thus the search continues, again. I wrote to EVERY organization that advertises for any accounting position – from Assistant Manager to Chief Financial Officer with not a single response.

In total, I registered 468 applications at government job portals and at least another 300 hundred more with other job portals. After one year, I became very depressed while I watch my hard earned savings depleting by the day. I knew that I had no choice but to work anywhere for any amount to sustain my family’s living before my entire savings are wiped out.

I have to pay for my house mortgages, sustain food for my family and provide funds to my daughter who is studying at a local poly.

I first took on a job as a Delivery Driver for about a month and then switch to a hotel receptionist for a meagre salary of $1,700 per month, working on a 12-hours shift. During the entire period I had to conceal my qualifications and experiences from everyone.

I was bitterly embarrassed and could not accept the reality of my hardship. I kept reiterating to myself that I lived in a country where millions flocked in search of jobs and yet here I am not even able to seek one single job.

Clearly there is something amiss with the country. It all boils down to Singapore’s immigration policy. A policy which has no heart and does not give a hood’s wink to its own citizens..

No other country on earth will simply allow foreigners to come with a social visa so as to seek jobs to compete with the locals.

Finally after 15 months, I got my first break when another Japanese firm called me for an interview.

This is my first interview since I was made redundant. Fortunately, the interview went well and I was offered a position of Accounts Manager although the salary offered was half of my last drawn salary as CFO.

I felt relieved that the one and only employer decided to hire me although I am fully aware that I may be overly qualified for the job.

This tragedy that I had encountered will serve as a reminder to me and other Singaporeans at the callousness, idiotic and irresponsible attitude of our government. I began to wonder, what happened to the thousands of vacancies that were advertised in the newspaper, job fairs, portals etc.?

No prices for guessing that it went straight to “foreign talent” although I doubt that they are even moderately talented, superficially maybe but definitely not talented.

Out of fairness, this entire fiasco is deliberately brought to with courtesy by the PAP government. I truly blame myself for electing this tyrannical government. I realize my foolishness and in retaliation vow never to support them perpetually.

They have lost my trust and confidence. I made a firm resolution that I will exercise my constitutional power to the maximum by making sure I will NEVER, EVER vote for this government.

Rest assured, I will convince my wife, child and close friends to do the same.

This tragedy has made me despise our government down to its core and I remain scarred till the rest of my life.


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22 Responses to “Local accountant used to earn $10,000 as CFO now works as accounts manager with half the pay and vow to vote against PAP”

  1. Tony Voon says:

    One thing that worries me is Marcus seems to sincerely believe he was a CFO in the past and this may have affected the way he wrote his CV and sold himself to the market.

    First things first, there’s a lot of fancy inflated titles out there. It is good to have a nice title on your name card and feel good about yourself, but for god’s sake you got to maintain your own sanity and not get carried away and really start believing you are the “CFO”.

    A $10k salary is probably the equivalent of a local subsidiary finance manager of a small MNC/GLC or in the case of mega MNCs the pay of a senior accountant.

    It is important to have a solid and accurate view of your own position and experience. Otherwise you will oversell yourself and look silly in front of the interviewer.

    This will cause needless worries from the company that you are clueless in your own world and could be potential trouble in terms of team collaboration and integrating with organization culture if they hire you because you really think you are some “CFO”.

    • Kenneth Lim says:

      In the age of Uber, Airbnb and other disruptive technology in the play where businesses are forced to think out of the box. A CFO needs to provide strategic direction on growing the company and to continue on that growth trajectory.

      CFO should be the CEO’s right hand man in spotting trends, this will be advantageous to the business as a whole, as increasingly Finance portfolio is moving from a shared services and decision support, to one that is more in tune with the business pulse of the company at the departmental level. Very often, Technology is part of this innovation, this comes from data collection with predictive analytics. A CFO’s value goes beyond implementing costs saving tactics and process improvements. He or she needs to have foresight to help the company achieve growth.

      From what I read, Marcus lacks strategic mindset, it is definitely not the qualities expected of a CFO, this is besides his pay scales. The human factor here is the issue.

      He probably needs to highlight in his resumes, if has implemented any breakthrough strategy that has helped the company stay on growth trajectory, etc. He could very well prevented the company from moving to Vietnam, as a CFO, there should be significant influencing power at that level.

  2. fu22y says:

    Hard to believe CFO of a reputable Japanese logistics firm drawing only 10,000 a month… Japanese MNC pay lower than US/Europe MNC, but come on 10,000? That’s less than half the pay of CFOs in smaller local listed co.

    More importantly I don’t understand what his problem is. He volunteered for the retrenchment package; end up cannot find anyone willing to pay as much as previous salary and this is government’s fault!?

    I disagree with the current FT policy as well, but this is base on rational observations & logic; not because do stupid things and feel entitled to get back your former pay and get emotional & start ranting when no one offers that.

  3. Wilson says:

    Tony, I don’t know where u coming from, judging a job by it pay. For similar job, American MNCs pay best, followed European, and lastly Asian (where Marcus came from). It also depends on how large organization, job scope etc.
    In my past company, we use Hays Job grading, where similar job appts are assessed across organizations, countries world wide. So same job appts, whether mgrs, CFOs, VPs are rewarded differently.
    My last job was GM at European MNC, earning >$15K month. I have feedbacks that my pay is low (by American MNCs std)
    I guess by your std, I lived with some ‘inflated’ sense ‘feel good’

    • jazzie says:

      Hi Wilson

      A country/subsidiary GM is usually at least 2-3 levels below a CFO. Like you have said yourself, even a GM like you make >$15k, how can a CFO be $10k?

      Let’s take your European MNC for example, I will just make an assumption this is a mid size MNC with a renvenue of US$10-30 billion and market captilization of ~$20 billion.

      As a GM your Hay level is probably somewhere in the region of JL20-22 and you would expect the CFO to be JL25-26.

      Monthly salary of $10k is more like JL 17 or 18 at best. The only way to explain this is that Marcus’s ex-company is one of those typical massive title inflators that labels anyone who head a small local department as CXO.

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with him stating that in his CV if the company gave him this title. My main concern stems from his long letter to Gilbert that he himself appears to really believe he is some CFO.

      This is a major red flag for hirers as it might be an indication that where this guy pitches himself and where he really is is quite far away.

  4. alan says:

    Just wondering if the japanese company choose to relocate to Vietnam because spore is just too expensive a place to operate (high rents, costly overheads, expensive transport expenses, the need to pay CPF for local staff etc…..)

  5. Wilson says:

    Like Marcus, some my peers and I Stop working in our early 50s.
    But we are financially free to retire from workforce and pursue other things in life.
    Now working life is very difficult for younger generations. No one can guarantee your job. Or you your health.
    My advice to my children and younger generation. Not to depend on working until retirement.
    Set target to achieve $1M (All assets less debts) by 40.
    Achieve All personal objectives, and financial independence by 50.
    “If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail”

    • jj@41 says:

      It is consider a good thing to have some planning but shit thing does happens.

      You will be caught off guard.

      人算不如天算. 計畫趕不上變化.

  6. jj@41 says:

    Marcus is still consider as lucky to be able to find a accounts manager job with $5000.

    Many others became cab drivers, security guards.

  7. Ant-boy says:

    I’m sorry but u sound like a whiner…blaming the govt for your plight? Have you ever considered u should shoulder some responsibility like a man? Why are u resigning without securing a job first? Why didn’t u survey the job market before tendering your resignation. I’m sorry but I feel disappointed if a former CFO like you didn’t have the foresight to see such things?

  8. Manson says:

    So never leave your flat pay job before you land another one.

  9. Tiong Sc says:

    Well said, Tony. yi zheng jian xue

  10. jj@41 says:

    Don’t waste time n money taking up those useless wsq courses at e2i.

    Don’t expect that you can get some well paid jobs or good jobs by attending those job fairs organised by e2i, caliberlink, cdc, cdac etc.

  11. Joshua Tan says:

    As and auditor, while I do not doubt your personal experience, perhaps you can provide substantive evidence that the jobs went to foreign talents and not locals?

    And I am not sure if about your long list of credentials. All I wonder is that if you were back as a CFO, would you hire someone such as yourself?

    Finally, if you indeed were a CFO, shouldn’t you be able to see the bigger picture on policy considerations? Wouldn’t you know that if indeed you lost to a foreign talent, you lost because your value isn’t as good as the foreign talent, whom the company not only pay comparable wages but also bear costs like foreign workers levy, tax equalization, relocation costs, return-trip costs to return home, on top of putting up with their differences in culture and values?

  12. Richard says:

    Tony, fully agree.

    Frankly the market if full of bullshit titles for all. and given due consideration of current job market, S$10k is only for FM level, if anyone is doubtful of Tony’s statement above, feel free to open any public listed company annual report, it will disclose the range of how much CFO is drawing per year.

    dont be carried away and assume you are qualified to earn income, if you do not create value for company.

    and please be thankful for FTs who are working here at least they pay your safety net and income tax, imagine FT are working in Vietnam and the jobs are outsourced to there, you do not even earn a dime.

    if people still have this kind of mentality, they are bound to lose, and I have no mercy on them.

  13. xyz says:

    Reading more & more such stories here makes me more & more give up on Sinkies and S’pore.

    Not just becoz of the inflated egos and the me-me mentality. But more importantly it shows the lack of integrity, kia-su, kia-si, self-centredness. The problems you list have been around for at least 20+ years in S’pore and yet you only now KPKB want to vote opposition?!? Just becoz you can’t get another $10K/mth job?? When you were having the good life, you fark care other poorer Sinkies, criticise the lower-income as lazy, make fun of opposition, laugh at chee soon juan in the news, and praise PAPies and voted happily for them.

    What if tomorrow you get a $15K/mth job?? Go back to praising PAPies and voting for them??!?

  14. SVPAM says:

    This guy’s problem has nothing to do with voting for PAP or opposition.

    He is just the typical full of himself old uncle sinkie PMET thinking he is some big shot CFO only to realise he’s just a small fry that nobody out there is interested in.

    The ranting against PAP is just incidental, he is not against PAP policies or direction at all, he is just lashing out at anything that moves because his ego was pulverized.

  15. JAOS says:

    I think Marcus is just trying to share his story and what he has been through, seeking support in this forum. We should all just give support and dispense advice to him , be ojective and not being personal in criticism.

  16. Ken says:

    Lol … why so many people still so naive, govt policies affects you from the air you breath to the neighbours you have. TaoLi said before, Singaporeans not hungry enough… let the FTs have your lunch. How do you build a nation??? Of course with your own people, you plant the seed and grow them from within. When a country is built by foreigners, it is time to say good bye.

  17. Edward T says:

    There are a few important points as employers will usually consider when hiring. If we hire someone age 50+, we do not hire his technical skills, but experience in strategies and planning.
    Besides that is this 50+ still living in his 50+ mentality or he has update himself to be in the 30+?
    How about his personality, Is he a boss or a team player?

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