A future ready workforce for an international financial centre

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in this speech speaks about need to have future ready workforce for Singapore’s international financial centre. This is the most important aspect of financial centre/services but least discussed.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the strong growth of the financial sector is the number of good jobs that are being created.

    • MAS estimates that there will be more than 9,400 new hiring opportunities for permanent roles in the financial sector in 2022 [4] .
    • More than 3,000 jobs will be in technology.
      • Software developers and engineers continue to have the highest demand, with more than 700 opportunities.
      • They support a wide range of exciting activities, such as designing and developing digital finance services; applying blockchain technology in trade finance; and using artificial intelligence to detect fraud and money laundering.
    • There will also be interesting new roles in sustainable finance.
      • These range from execution of ESG transactions to advisory services and product development.
      • Many of these jobs will draw on traditional finance expertise such as product structuring, risk management, reporting and pricing, but layered and infused with new knowledge on sustainability.

The competition for talent is global.

    • The skills in many areas of finance – especially technology and sustainability – are scarce everywhere.
    • This is why supporting our financial institutions to access the talent they need to grow and thrive is a key priority for MAS.

To continue growing as a leading international financial centre in Asia, we need a future-ready workforce – comprising a strong Singaporean Core complemented by a pool of deep and diverse global talent.

Let me highlight our efforts in the two limbs of our strategy:

    • first, growing a strong local talent pool; and
    • second, attracting high quality global talent.

MAS has been working closely with financial institutions, institutes of higher learning, and other government agencies to expand our local talent pipeline and build a strong Singaporean Core.

He says talent does not mean looking at locals only:

Let me clarify that a Singaporean Core strategy is not a “Singaporeans only” strategy. 

    • A “Singaporeans only” approach will be fatal for Singapore as a global financial centre as there are simply not enough locals to meet the fast-expanding specialist needs of financial institutions. 
    • Rather, promoting a strong Singaporean Core is about building good skills and capabilities in our local workforce and ensuring fair hiring opportunities.  It is about helping to equip them to do well in their jobs and advance in their careers. 
    • MAS estimates that more than 3,000 Singapore Citizens held senior roles in the financial sector in 2020, a remarkable increase of more than 80% compared to 2016.

The need for a strong local talent pipeline is something that the CEOs of global financial institutions in Singapore fully understand and agree with.  A strong Singaporean Core gives ballast to their operations here and resilience in their staff capacity. It provides local and regional networks and a keen sense of customers and markets.  

Over the years, MAS has put in place several schemes to help develop entry level, professional, specialist and leadership talent for the financial sector. 

He says Singapore can widen the pool by looking at 3 sets of people:

Let me highlight three areas of local talent that MAS is stepping up efforts in:

    • polytechnic graduates;
    • mid-career professionals from other sectors; and
    • overseas Singaporeans working in finance and in technology.


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