Published Date: 30 July 1999

"Reinforcing MAS' Talent Pool"

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the MAS Scholarship Presentation Ceremony MAS Penthouse

Date: 30 Jul 1999


1   I am happy to be here for MAS' inaugural scholarship presentation ceremony.

2   I congratulate the recipients of this year's MAS scholarships and your families. Out of almost 700 applicants who applied for MAS scholarships this year, just 10 are being awarded scholarships. We have sought to attract some of the best students to join the MAS through this scholarship.

3   You have chosen a career with MAS. It is a sound choice. MAS plays a key role in managing the Singapore economy. We seek to maintain high standards of professionalism, and uphold the reputation of our financial centre, both locally and overseas. Our staff receive rigorous training and all-round exposure, to enable them to contribute as part of the MAS team. You can expect a challenging and rewarding career, contributing to the growth and stability of the Singapore economy, and building Singapore as a world-class financial centre.


4   MAS' tasks are made even more challenging by rapid advances in technology, and a constantly changing, highly competitive external environment. Central banking is becoming increasingly complex and multi-faceted. We must set the highest standards of excellence to do our job well. MAS needs to be progressive, dynamic and forward-looking in order to achieve our vision to make Singapore a leading financial centre.

5   Because of the challenges and rewards, internationally the calibre of people in the financial industry is very high. Banks hire computer scientists and even former nuclear physicists to design new derivative products. Investment bankers need to understand how their clients' businesses work, and how to structure mergers and acquisitions. Retail bankers are constantly looking for ways to improve their service to customers, streamline work processes, cut costs and raise efficiency.

6   If MAS is to keep up with such an industry, and be able to supervise its activities, understand its needs, and work with it to help it grow further, we need people as able, innovative, and dynamic as those in the private sector. Like any organisation, MAS is only as good as its people.

7   Our MAS staff are skilled and competent professionals, who command the respect of the financial markets and other central banks. I have seen over the last two years how they have risen to the challenge, as we have fundamentally reviewed our policies towards the financial sector, and elaborated a fresh, lighter approach to supervising the industry. But we do not have enough. We must continually reinforce our talent pool by recruiting able and committed talent, and by enhancing the competencies of our existing staff.


8   MAS has stepped up its talent recruitment since the beginning of 1998. Our staff strength has increased sharply by 30% to almost 750 over the past 19 months. We needed to beef up our existing supervisory functions, and build up new capabilities like financial sector promotion and international relations.

9   At entry-level, MAS recruits top students from NUS and NTU, and from reputable overseas universities. The MAS scholarship programme is an important element of its talent recruitment process. Since 1978, MAS has awarded scholarships to a few top students each year, whom we judge to be able to excel in their studies and make a significant future contribution to the organisation. To-date, MAS has awarded 141 local and overseas scholarships.

10   But what counts is not just the number of new recruits to MAS. In an industry characterised by incessant innovation and fast-change environment, we must tap the widest range of experience and knowledge available, to ensure that MAS stays abreast of rapid financial sector developments and continues to set the highest standards of excellence.

11   So besides scholars and new graduates, MAS has recruited mid-career entrants, including professionals who have been seconded to MAS. Some have come from the private sector; others from the universities. Mid-career entrants comprised almost 40% of the 185 new staff recruited since the beginning of 1998. They have brought with them valuable expertise and fresh perspectives. The interplay of ideas and views between them, the new graduates and the existing staff has been fruitful and productive. MAS must continue to recruit good people from all sources, and integrate them into our organisation.


12   Besides talent recruitment, MAS has also launched development programmes to build, deepen and broaden the knowledge of our staff. To carry out its role effectively, MAS needs highly skilled specialists in each area of work, as well as officers with broad-based knowledge and understanding of key policies.

13   MAS' staff development programmes will therefore equip staff with critical skills needed in their specialist areas. We also give our staff opportunities to take on different tasks and assignments, in order to gain broader exposure to a range of core central banking skills.

14   MAS has offices in New York and London that deal with our reserve management and promotional functions. MAS officers posted to these offices will find it interesting and challenging to work in an overseas environment. MAS will also send more officers on external attachments, to both private sector institutions, as well as overseas regulators like the US Federal Reserve Board and the Bank for International Settlements. This will allow our officers to gain valuable exposure and experience, and help MAS to stay in touch with international developments that affect us.


15   The MAS scholarship is the first step of an exciting and fulfilling learning journey for you. To MAS, it represents an investment to train promising young men and women, like yourselves, to take up future leadership or specialist roles in MAS. From you, we expect hard work, high standards, dedication, and commitment. Do well in your studies, and come back to serve MAS and Singapore.