Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 14 April 2015

Reply to Parliamentary Question on Promoting Local Talent in the Financial Sector




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 13 April 2015

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Benedict Tan, NMP


To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is being done to promote local talent in the financial sector; and (b) whether retrenchments by top US and European banks in the US and Europe are causing Singaporeans to face increased competition for jobs in our financial sector and, if so, what can be done to moderate its impact on local jobseekers and existing employees.

Answer by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth on behalf of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of MAS:

1   Many financial institutions have located their global and regional business functions in Singapore. To staff these functions, financial institutions look to build teams with the best mix of talents, so that they can compete globally. This strategy of financial institutions is in Singaporeans’ interests, as it provides them a chance to be in top-quality, globally competitive teams here in Singapore.

2   At the same time, around the world financial institutions are  having to run on leaner structures, both in terms of business lines and geographical footprint.  Modest growth prospects, more stringent regulatory requirements, and advances in the use of technology, have made financial institutions more cautious in their hiring decisions. These are global trends and no financial centre is spared from the need to adjust and upgrade.

3   Competition for jobs in every global financial centre is hence keen, and  will continue to be so. MAS will be doing more to help Singaporeans prepare for this new landscape.  

4   First, developing skills and deep capabilities. As part of the national SkillsFuture initiative, MAS will work with partners like the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF), and with both employers and unions, to provide more learning pathways and training opportunities for Singaporeans in the finance industry. This is a comprehensive effort at every level -  from the rank and file to senior professionals and specialists.

  • At the entry level, MAS partners financial institutions to provide opportunities for young Singaporean professionals to be groomed through structured developmental programmes.
  • To help Singaporeans acquire specialist capabilities in finance, MAS supports financial institutions in providing training opportunities, for example through the Financial Training Scheme (FTS) and the Finance Scholarship Programme (FSP). 
  • To develop leadership capabilities. MAS also has several initiatives such as the International Posting Programme (iPOST) for overseas exposure, as well as a new Asian Financial Leaders Programme (AFLP) which will be launched later this year.

5   Second, MAS will ensure fair employment practices for Singaporeans. MAS has been working closely with the key financial institutions to ensure that they give Singaporeans fair consideration for all roles in their organisations. MAS has engaged the top management of these financial institutions, including at the global level. They have responded positively and assured us of their commitment to merit-based employment practices. They have processes in place to safeguard against any form of discriminatory hiring.

6   Our aim is hence to to work with the institutions to develop a continuous pipeline of Singaporean talent, while ensuring a level playing field so that Singaporeans can compete for the jobs offered here. 

7   At the same time, Singaporeans in the industry must take ownership of their own careers and development. We will support them in their journey. MAS will provide maximum opportunities for Singaporeans to equip themselves with the relevant skills and to deepen their expertise. This is how we will ensure a vibrant global financial centre in Singapore, with Singaporeans at its core.