MAS working with NTUC to build secure banking jobs

The financial sector has joined hands with the Government and the labour movement in the biggest push yet to help Singapore's banking professionals adapt to a rapidly changing manpower landscape.

A Financial Sector Tripartite Committee (FSTC) has been set up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the NTUC to spearhead a string of initiatives, including a financial career advisory centre and new training programmes.

The goal is to build a resilient workforce with cross-functional skills as market headwinds and technologies transform the sector's manpower needs, MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh said yesterday, in announcing the FSTC.

"The job landscape in the financial sector has become more fluid and dynamic... (The workforce) must be ready and willing to adjust to new demands and requirements," she said at a lunch event organised by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

Ms Loh co-chairs the FSTC with NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay, supported by the ABS and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF). The initiative, first discussed in August last year, will focus on the banking sector before reaching out to the insurance and asset management sectors.

In April, the committee will set up a financial industry career advisory centre to guide industry entrants and existing professionals on job opportunities and the skills needed.

The ABS has also set up a website where bank employers can advertise job openings to other banks. In the event of a layoff, one bank can approach another to recruit the affected staff member. There are now 96 postings by four banks.

Layoffs by global banks in Singapore have grabbed national attention in recent months. But it is not all doom and gloom in the industry, Ms Loh stressed.

"Even as some global financial institutions undertake restructuring efforts, other banks continue to hire. We also see strong demand for good talent in key areas such as asset and wealth management, insurance, compliance and risk management,'' she said.

The FSTC will work with the IBF to review the institute's programmes and develop new ones that will groom talent to match these growth areas. The IBF provides training and competency certification for financial professionals. In 2014, it trained some 15,000 financial professionals.

The initiative's third front is a programme to build an employee mindset embracing skill upgrading. DBS Bank, OCBC and United Overseas Bank will take part next month.

Citi Singapore country officer Michael Zink called FSTC's launch "timely". The bank, employing nearly 10,000 here, is hungry for staff in areas such as compliance, cyber security, data analytics and fintech.

Mr Zink said: "The financial services industry has become a lot more complex as a result of dynamic market conditions, emphasis on digital technologies and new regulations. As client needs also continue to evolve, we need a workforce that is future-ready and has the skillsets to address the new requirements."

UOB assistance vice-president for compliance Cherlyn Toh, who used to work in human resources, said: "With banks going digital and as global cross-border investments increase, banking compliance roles are in high demand. Through this FSTC initiative, I look forward to enhancing my skills further."

DBS assistant vice-president for group audit Clement Lee said he has had to adopt new auditing and risk assessment skills as the bank continues to digitalise its businesses. "I feel there is a need to constantly upgrade my skills and embrace continuous training," Mr Lee said.

This article was first published on February 18, 2016.
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