Published Date: 25 April 2008

Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore,At The SMU-UOB Advanced Diploma In Private Banking Graduation Event


Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB

Professor Howard Hunter, President, SMU

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1   I am delighted to join you  at this graduation event.  Today’s event marks several firsts.  UOB is the first financial institution inSingapore to partner academia to design and deliver an FICS accredited diploma programme that is customised to its in-house development needs.   This SMU-UOB Advanced Diploma in Private Banking is the first FICS programme that is linked to an advanced diploma qualification.  And of course, the graduates today are the first cohort to have successfully completed this programme. 

2   Let me extend my heartiest congratulations to all our 19 graduates.    I hope your learning journey has been challenging and rewarding. As today’s ceremony marks a key milestone in your entry into private banking, allow  me to share what I think are 3 essential tasks of a private banker.   

3   The first and foremost task is to build and maintain trust.  At its core, private banking is about trust.  Clients must have the trust and confidence in your integrity and discretion.  Besides account information, you may also be entrusted with personal information such as their investment plans or the will and details of their estate planning.  Or the philanthropic causes that your clients are passionate about but prefer to have minimal or no publicity for their involvement.  Acting with care and integrity to safeguard your clients’ interest is an essential element of building trust with them.  Careless leakage or abuse of client information will destroy the trust and personal reputation that would have taken you years to build. The importance of trust cannot be over-emphasised.

4   The second task is to create value for your clients which must go beyond your own immediate monetary rewards.  It is crucial that you understand the needs of your clients – be it their risk appetite and liquidity preferences, or even personal beliefs about ethical investing - and customise your advice and solutions to best meet their needs.  This is a demanding task – you need to develop deep knowledge and work with others in your organisation to holistically create such solutions. A simplistic solution of offering whatever is available, or worse, whatever that earns you a higher margin would not work. The only sustainable way to enhance margins is to serve your clients’ needs well, and demonstrate your commitment to their long term interests, given any market conditions.  Beyond investment, there will be a range of services that you could provide to clients, whether it is in growing, preserving or transferring wealth, or in deploying some of the wealth to worthy causes. Investment and these related services are rapidly evolving, and you would need to keep up with these changes.

5   The third task is to collaborate with your colleagues so that you can serve your clients well.  I have mentioned earning the trust of your clients and customising products for them.   Beyond building personal trust and providing sound financial advice, you would need to play your part to ensure that practices relating to risk management and legal compliance in the bank are strictly adhered to.  What is done at the front office in serving clients needs to be seamlessly integrated with the mid-and-back office functions of controls and compliance.  That way, you and your institution will continue to build on the reputation for integrity, reliability and quality.

6   These 3 tasks are by no means the only ones, and I am sure Mr Wee Ee Cheong and your bosses will have other very specific tasks for you.  While I have focused on the task at a personal level, it is important for all participants in our private banking industry, individuals and institutions alike, to uphold the way we carry out these tasks, so that we can preserve our credibility and reputation as a wealth management centre.

7   I have had the pleasure of speaking to several senior private bankers who have excelled in this profession for many years.  They are passionate about their job, and derive great satisfaction from what they do.  I hope you would find your career journey just as exciting and rewarding.  And that like these seasoned private bankers, you will continue your learning journey as your career progresses. 

Value of industry-academia collaboration in training, and FICS

8   I would also like to commend UOB for your commitment to staff development, and SMU for your contribution in developing and delivering the FICS accredited programme.  Private banking and wealth management is growing well in Singapore.  To sustain growth, we need every institution to grow its own talent and be committed to continuous training.  It takes patience, foresight and commitment on the part of senior management to grow your own timber.  But we reap what we sow, and the more effective we are in developing our staff, the more we enhance our capacity for growth.  Adopting a talent merry-go-round is not sustainable and ultimately counter-productive for the industry.

9   May I also congratulate UOB and SMU for your partnership in designing and delivering this programme.  Such collaborative efforts tap the curriculum design, delivery and domain expertise of academia, and the proprietary domain expertise of the institution. . It is a powerful partnership that harnesses your respective strengths to deliver effective training.  I look forward to more of such collaboration between industry and academia.

10   As Chairman of the Institute of Banking of Finance, I am also very pleased that this Advanced Diploma is accredited under the Financial Industry Competency Standards (FICS) framework.  As you are aware, FICS is a set of competency standards developed by industry for 53 job families across the financial sector, of which 6 job families fall within the wealth management segment.  The FICS accreditation has a good balance of theoretical and practical expertise.  I am glad to see the progressive adoption of FICS standards by the industry.

11   On that note, I wish all of you a fruitful and engaging session ahead and to all graduates, every success in your careers. Thank You.