Growing demand for part-time CFOs
Demand growing for highly skilled professionals on contract work
He has more than 30 years of experience and was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at various MNCs and start-ups.
More than a year ago, Mr James Morgan became a part-time CFO with the CFO Centre, which provides affordable financial guidance to SMEs that cannot afford or do not require a full-time CFO.
He now works eight to ten days a month and provides his expertise to three different SME clients.
The 52-year-old Singapore permanent resident might not seem like a typical gig worker, but he is part of a growing trend of highly skilled professionals working on contract.
According to survey findings by professional recruitment consultancy Michael Page, contract employment has grown in Singapore in recent years.
Nearly 70 per cent of companies polled said contractors are part of their staff headcount.
Of these companies, four in five are planning to maintain or increase their contract hires in 2017.
The CFO Centre was launched in Singapore three years ago and is a subsidiary of The FD Centre, which is based in Britain and was established 15 years ago.
Mr Steve Settle, who helms the Singapore office, said the take-off was slow in the company's first year of operation in 2013, but turnover has soared from $25,000 that year to over $700,000 in 2015.
The local CFO Centre now has six consultants.
Mr Settle, 57, told The New Paper that he expects to see an increase in demand for part-time CFOs in Singapore due to the increase in business activity and entrepreneurship in the region, as well as the growth of the gig economy.
He added: "It's not just millennials who are in the gig economy. There are also people who have worked for 25 years with a corporation and wish for more flexibility and time to pursue their interests.
"In a way, it's also tied to elements of ageism in the workforce. Some companies prefer to hire a younger and cheaper person and to train them."
Employment portals that offer contract jobs here are also seeing an increase in demand, particularly "contract-for-service" instead of "contract-of-service" arrangements.
According to the Ministry of Manpower's website, those under a contract for service arrangement are not covered by the Employment Act, and statutory benefits do not apply because it is a client-contractor type of relationship.
Ms Sher-li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work Singapore, attributes the trend to the tough economy, with companies going for the "cheaper" option.
Her portal, which has over 33,000 registered members, matches prospective employers with mothers who wish to find work-family balance through flexible arrangements and its focus is on jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.
The most common listing is for finance-related jobs such as accountant or finance manager, said Ms Torrey, who has also seen more requests for social media managers.
Mr Kek Sei Wee, chief executive of online platform for IT professionals IoTalents, pointed out that freelancing has always been a tenant of the technology industry, but employers and employees are increasingly open to "contract-for-service" arrangements.
Mr Kek estimates a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in demand for IT services, particularly those which require deep skills sets.
Mr Kek said: "The younger generation are more willing to take on jobs on a project basis as they can take on more work.
"I call this the 'Uberisation' of talent - people with valuable skills can be fully maximised without restricting themselves to just one company."