SINGAPORE - Banks are getting the government's call for a stronger Singapore core in the workforce loud and clear.
While recognising and emphasising the need to have diversity in the work place, as well as the importance of leaving the door open for global talent, financial institutions told BT that they are committed to keeping locals as a major part of their headcount.
They said that they wanted at least three-quarters of staff to be citizens and permanent residents (PRs).
"UBS has more than 2,000 employees in Singapore, of which more than 75 per cent are Singaporeans and permanent residents," said Moira Roberts, head of human resources at UBS Singapore.
But she noted that as a global bank - UBS employees are made up of 44 nationalities - it also cannot compromise on its own internal philosophy, from which its Singaporean employees benefit as well.
"A diverse workforce is important as our clientele is diverse," she said. "We promote mobility and international experience, providing our Singapore-based employees the opportunity to be posted overseas and vice versa, as we believe the sharing of different expertise, experiences and perspectives increases our competitiveness."
At Standard Chartered, 75 per cent of its 7,600-strong workforce are Singaporeans and PRs. The Singapore office is also its global hub which runs a majority of its global operations.
"We got a diverse pool of people here, but we also have a very strong core," said Ray Ferguson, the head of the bank in Singapore. He recalled an "extreme example" during his previous posting in the US, where there were only "one or two non-Americans and the rest were Americans".
Strengthening the Singapore core also has advantages as the customers the bank deals with here are mainly Singaporeans, especially the SMEs and consumer clients, he added.
"So if you go down to any of our branches, about 90 per cent of our customer-facing or front-facing staff are Singaporeans."