Opening Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Chairman IBF and Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the Inaugural IBF Annual Conference, 30 May 2007, 2pm, Marina Mandarin Singapore
Good afternoon, fellow Council members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Inaugural IBF Annual Conference which is held in conjunction with our Annual General Meeting.
2 The need to build a deep pool of financial sector talent with worldclass capabilities is now felt more keenly than ever. Last year, 11,000 jobs were created in the financial sector. Latest DOS statistics show that in Q1 2007, financial services GDP grew by 12.9% over the same period last year, more than double the overall GDP growth of 6.1%. Many among you have experienced talent shortages, particularly in high-growth areas such as wealth management, operations and fund administration. The issue is not just one of quantity but quality. As well as meeting current need, for us to succeed as a financial centre, our workforce has to be equipped to meet the challenges of the future.
3 IBF works closely with industry players and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to address the skills needs of the financial sector. Indeed, the core mission of IBFs to develop a responsive, forward-looking training infrastructure to further Singapore’s growth as a financial centre.
Key Initiatives towards Building a Worldclass Financial Sector Workforce
4 Let me say a few words on some of our key measures to achieve our objective of building a worldclass financial sector workforce. First, in Continuing Education and Training, the Financial Industry Competency Standards initiative has gotten off to a promising start. Launched in 2 phases, Sep 2005 and June 2006, the FICS is a comprehensive framework that defines the competencies best-in-class practitioners would demonstrate for specific job functions. Benchmarked to international standards, it was developed with the intimate involvement of industry practitioners, and assists training providers and financial institutions in developing training and assessment programmes that are effective and job-specific. FICS accreditation is thus a mark of excellence for financial training providers, and FICS Certification a symbol of professional achievement for financial practitioners.
5 Since its launch, 6 major financial institutions (Credit Suisse, DBS, Great Eastern Life, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS and UOB) have adopted FICS for their in-house programmes. I am pleased to note that UBS has recently launched its Asia Pacific Wealth Management Campus, and leveraged on FICS to develop programmes for all job roles within the Relationship Management – High Net Worth job family, up to the highest levels. The establishment of corporate training centers by financial institutions augurs well for our financial sector. It demonstrates financial Institutions’ commitment towards staff development and retention, and helps to draw in more talent into the sector. I encourage more financial institutions to consider leveraging on FICS to establish their corporate training centres.
6 Staff from close to 40 financial institutions have gone through external FICS accredited training programmes, offered by the Singapore College of Insurance and the Wealth Management Institute. To make FICS-accredited training and assessment more widely available, IBF will appoint ‘FICS lead providers’, who together will deliver a complete suite of FICS-accredited training and assessment programmes for all 52 job families covered by the framework. I encourage all financial institutions to make use of FICS-accredited programmes, which attract 70% co-funding from the Financial Sector Development Fund. I would also encourage training providers who have not yet been accredited to embark on the journey without delay. To encourage early adoption, IBF will waive all accreditation fees until the end of this year.
7 In 2007, we will also start an FICS Outreach to financial practitioners to raise their awareness of FICS as a pathway to achieve professional accomplishment and success. We can look forward to a pioneer batch of Financial Industry Certified Professionals from senior ranks in the industry to serve as role models for our young talent. And we will mount a publicity campaign to raise the profile of FICS Certification as a highly-desired professional achievement.
8 The FICS is not just about quantity, but quality. A crucial part of the entire FICS initiative is to ensure the framework is kept up-to-date and retains its forward-looking quality. IBF will keep this in mind, making adjustments along the way, even as it works to implement the standards. I look forward to your participation in making this endeavour a success.
9 Second, on the pre-employment front, I announced at our last AGM the set up of a Financial Talent Education and Development Taskforce. The objective is to bring about greater alignment between the pre-employment training offered at our Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) and the needs and expectations of financial sector employers. The Taskforce comprised senior HR heads from the industry, Provosts and Principals of the IHLs and representatives from the Government. The Taskforce has since concluded its work and I thank all participants for their invaluable contributions.
10 While noting that Singapore graduates have strong intellectual foundations,the Taskforce has made important recommendations to enhance their job-readiness. These include better use of internships to allow students to gain practical skills and appreciation of the systems and structures in financial institutions. As well, more can be done to facilitate the flow of students from other disciplines such as engineering, law and mathematics into the financial sector. In the year ahead, IBF will be steering the implementation of these recommendations, which will ensure that Singapore graduates continue to be highly sought-after by financial sector employers and that our financial industry continues to benefit from well-trained and job-ready graduates.
11 I have elaborated on 2 key initiatives that will position us well for the long term. To meet immediate needs, IBF has spearheaded intensive finance preparatory programmes for roles where demand for manpower is strong and fresh graduates can contribute. The FPPs prepare fresh graduates from the polytechnics and universities for these jobs. In Dec 06, an FPP in Risk Management was introduced by the NUS Risk Management Institute, and a new FPP in Global Banking and Securities Operations has just been launched by the Securities and Investment Institute and ACI Singapore. A third FPP, in fund administration, will be introduced this year. These programmes attract 70% co-funding support from the Financial Sector Development Fund. I hope that you will find these programmes useful and I would urge you to take advantage of them if you have not done so already.
Stepping up Talent Attraction Efforts
12 Finally, to further draw talent into the financial sector, IBF launched a website, FinanceConnectSingapore, in October 06. The website profiles Singapore’s financial sector, highlights the rich opportunities available to local and international talent, and showcases Singapore’s value proposition as a choice location to live, work and play. Todate, the website has registered over 24,000 visits and over 180,000 hits. As IBF works to enhance the website further in the year ahead, I encourage financial institutions to make use of this website to complement your own talent attraction efforts, by contributing news, informational articles, profiles and suggestions on how we may improve it further.
Scaling New Heights
13 I have outlined some of the initiatives that IBF will be seeing through in the year ahead. Going forward, IBF will also take a more active role in promoting best practices and thought leadership in talent development and management. Where talent is in short supply, it is critical that we harness the full potential of our workforce. Hence, I am pleased to open today’s Inaugural Annual Conference, entitled “Leadership Development for Exponential Growth”. On behalf of IBF, I would like to warmly welcome our guest speaker, Professor Michael McGrath, Adjunct Professor and Director of the Senior Executive Programme, Asia at the University of Michigan Business School. Professor McGrath is also the faculty leader of Michigan’s Talent Management and Retention programmes and has co-authored several books, including Strategic Executive Development – the 5 Essential Investments. I believe you will enjoy hearing from him. I also thank the panelists, Euleen, Jack, Cathy, David and Michael for their participation, and look forward to an interesting and interactive session later. More sessions like this will be organized by IBF in future, to facilitate the exchange of views and to stimulate action on the key strategic imperative of talent development. In addition to the Annual Conference, IBF will also start a Distinguished Speaker Series, where prominent industry leaders and academics would be invited to dialogues with members on topics of interest.
14 As many of these initiatives are multi-year efforts, the year ahead will be filled with exciting and important work for IBF. Indeed, being an industry-led body, IBF is uniquely positioned to draw on the resources and participation of the industry. The FICS initiative, for instance, is guided by the FICS Steering Committee, ably led by Euleen Goh, and supported by industry Working Groups. I am delighted that the Steering Committee has decided to renew its term for another 2 years to see through the next stage of the FICS journey. Many others among you have contributed to IBF in various ways – providing input at roundtable discussions, supporting our examination system by setting questions and writing study guides, participating in our initiatives. I look forward to even closer collaboration in the year ahead and thank you all for supporting the IBF. Join us in the next stage of IBF’s journey to build a worldclass financial sector workforce.
15 On that note, I wish you a fruitful session ahead.