Graduate Officers

Tang Wei, Graduate Officer, 2010, Specialist Risk Department

It is often said that one should enter into the profession for which one studied for in university. I beg to differ. Having studied Physics, Philosophy and Linguistics in university, I was clearly not trained to be a public servant, central banker or financial regulator. However, at MAS, it is the officer’s passion and capacity to contribute to the organisation, and perhaps more importantly, to Singapore, that matters and less critical is his or her field of training.

Being in the Payments and Infrastructure Division (PID) of the Specialist Risk Department (SRD), I have the fortune of applying the skills I had acquired in university to issues impacting the daily lives of Singaporeans. Payment systems in Singapore include various instruments such as the familiar cheques, interbank Giro, debit cards, credit cards and stored value facilities (such as the ubiquitous CEPAS-compatible cards). Here at PID, we focus on policies and regulations that ensure the ongoing safety and efficiency of the payment system.

Before I joined MAS, my impression of the payment system in Singapore was simply that it functioned as promised. However, as with all well-oiled machines, much work is performed behind-the-scenes that is not initially obvious to the casual observer. My current role in PID is split between three interconnected aspects of keeping the machine oiled; Crafting policy, surveillance, and regulation. Policy sets the framework for regulation, compliance to which is monitored via surveillance and from time-to-time, calls for fine-tuning of policy. Such a feedback loop is vital in keeping the machine at its optimal in an environment of constant change.

If there is one aspect of my job that brings the most satisfaction, it must be the realisation that what I do on a daily basis has a real and material impact on Singaporeans. This realisation is driven home every time I make an electronic payment for a meal, or tap my CEPAS card for a bus ride, in the processes establishing a concrete connection between my work and the effects felt on the ground. Likewise, it is not sufficient to craft good policies or implement effective regulation without concomitant communication with the public. In the end, it is crucial (and rewarding) that we communicate policies and the rationale behind it to the ultimate beneficiaries of our work, Singaporeans.

Being in MAS, and the public service, I feel privileged to be in a position to not only shape the future of the nation, but to craft and implement policies that improve the daily lives of Singaporeans. We have inherited a safe and sound financial system from our forefathers, being here at MAS today, there’s the feeling of continual effort to maintain and also better this precious inheritance. 
 


 

Lim Bey-An, Graduate Officer, 2007, Reserve Management Department

Where can you go if you want to pursue a career in investment management upon graduation? An investment bank, a hedge fund, an insurance company… or a central bank? For me, I set my eyes on joining the MAS’s Reserve Management Department (RMD). RMD is responsible for managing Singapore’s official foreign reserves. A central banking career may not be the most financially rewarding but it is THE place to be as central banks are playing an increasingly important role in the financial markets.

I joined the RMD in 2007, a few months before the epic collapse of Lehman Brothers. Perversely, my first year as a portfolio manager coincided with massive market turbulence as the financial crisis unfolded. During this period, we worked longer and harder than usual as we had to stay abreast of the numerous market developments and policy responses. The market uncertainty and volatility made monitoring the fast-changing situation difficult. On top of that, we had to assess the situation adroitly and manage our portfolios to pre-empt any financial impact on our reserves. It was tiring and tough, but NOT boring. The learning curve was steep and it didn’t take me long to realize that what I learnt in school is not always applicable in the real world and in untested waters. In retrospect, I am glad that I started my career in RMD. The constant guidance from senior portfolio managers and generous sharing of market knowledge and professional advice was and continues to be invaluable.

Relocating to MAS’ New York office has to be one of my best experience so far. Professionally, I am closer to the market action and can better stay attuned to the latest market developments. The ease of interacting with fellow market participants also helps in developing an effective professional network. Personally, life in the Big Apple is really fun, that is until the housework piles up. The trade-off is that you learn a lot about yourself living and working away from home. In some way, it also validates my decision to join RMD as it has indeed provided me with what I considered to be important when I first embarked on my career.

As a young officer in MAS, you will have ample opportunities to interact and present your views to senior management. Within RMD, investment ideas and recommendations are assessed on their merits – the soundness of the analysis and the risk-reward pay-off – rather than the seniority of the person. This is something that I appreciate and value.

 

Last Modified on 07/03/2013