Published Date: 24 June 2010

Opening Address by Mr Ong Chong Tee, Deputy Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the 4th IBF Annual Conference 24 June 2010

1   Good morning distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first extend a warm welcome to all of you here this morning, including my fellow IBF Council members and our FICPs.  I am pleased to open the 2010 IBF Annual Conference which is held in conjunction with IBF’s  35th Annual General Meeting.
Moving Ahead From The Crisis

2   Compared to the last Annual Conference exactly one year ago, we meet today under a much improved economic climate.  This has been due in no small part to the unprecedented stimulus actions taken by governments and central banks around the world, which have supported a decisive turnaround in global confidence, spending and production.  While the pace of recovery has differed across regions - or a multi-speed recovery as the IMF has characterized - the revival in global trade flows has underpinned a strong comeback across many of the Asian economies.  This is probably the first time that Asia has led a global recovery, with most Asian economies exiting recession in Q2 2009, when the US and Europe were still contracting. 

3   In Singapore, the strength of the rebound from the recession has surprised even the most optimistic observers.  Over the past four quarters, our GDP has, on average, increased at a double-digit pace on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised basis (q-o-q SAAR).  In fact, Singapore’s GDP surged by around 39% q-o-q SAAR in Q1 2010, or over 15% y-o-y with a strong broad-based momentum. 

4   Despite the cyclical upturn, the global economy is still fraught with risks in the near term.  One key risk is the sovereign debt crisis in some of the Eurozone economies.  If the financial contagion spreads and the functioning of the credit markets in Europe and elsewhere is again severely impaired, global growth will be marked down again; and Asia will not be spared.  But barring this tail-end event, we expect the level of economic activity in Singapore to remain high for the rest of the year.   

5   Meanwhile, the global financial marketplace is at a crossroad of important reforms. Discussions are ongoing at national and international levels to strengthen financial institutions and financial systems, and many governments in the developed economies are also putting in place fiscal reform measures to ensure the sustainability of public finances. 

Capability Building

6   Against this backdrop, the demands and expectations on financial market practitioners in Singapore will increase, to manage the opportunities and challenges of a transforming financial landscape and the Asian growth dynamics.

7   I am pleased to note that over the past year, the IBF has taken a multi-pronged approach to strengthen professional and corporate capabilities of the financial community in Singapore. These include the Financial Industry Competency Standards (or FICS), and initiatives on industry best practices, leadership, HR and talent management practices.

FICS – Deepening Professional Skills

8   Allow me to share on the FICS efforts a bit more.  The industry’s adoption of FICS accredited programmes has increased significantly.

9   Up to the 1st quarter of this year, about 4,000 financial practitioners have been trained and 1,500 financial practitioners assessed under the FICS framework, a more than 2-fold increase compared to about 1,700 trained and 650 assessed one year ago. Over 160 financial institutions have sponsored their staff to these programmes, twice the number last year.  IBF has also seen a significant increase in the use of the FICS website which was launched at last year’s Annual Conference.  I am told that the page views have increased from over 20,000 registered in Q3 2009 to over 120,000 in Q1 2010.
10   In October last year, IBF welcomed its 3rd group of distinguished Financial Industry Certified Professionals (FICPs). The FICP title is the highest certification mark for a financial practitioner in Singapore under the FICS framework. FICPs epitomise professional competency, and a commitment to excellence in their respective job families. The inaugural FICP Forum in May last year provided a key platform for several distinguished FICPs to share their perspectives on developments and future trends of the financial industry. Nominations for the 2010 Distinguished FICP Award are now open. The IBF look forward to receiving nominations of senior executives based in Singapore who would serve as business role models and beacons of excellence in the industry.

11   To complement the ongoing efforts in capability building, IBF is in discussion with the industry and the MAS on additional initiatives to enhance the professional and business conduct standards of our financial workforce.  One such example is the feasibility of a national examination for relationship mangers in Consumer banks.  This is a suggestion from some industry players themselves to enhance and validate the quality of relationship managers, and further promote good practices between financial institutions and their clients.
Promoting Industry Best Practices

12   In promoting higher standards of competency and professionalism, IBF has also been working closely with the FICS Working Group members and other senior industry practitioners to facilitate discussions on industry trends and best practices.

13   In 2009, IBF extended the Best Practices Industry Seminars to include the Compliance and Risk Management segments, in addition to Wealth Management. These industry seminars were very well received, with valuable contributions from industry partners and practitioners.

Promoting Best Practices in HR and Talent Management

14   Last year, IBF also invited influential HR thought leaders to share their expert perspectives at IBF’s Beacon Series . IBF will be organising a session for HR practitioners later today to discuss strategies and exchange views on creating high and sustainable performance. There will be another session under IBF’s Beacon Series later this year to update and engage senior HR practitioners on the latest HR-related trends, developments and insights, given also the recent developments and discussions on bank compensation systems.

Reaching Out To Talent Pools 

15   According to the Hudson’s Employment Outlook Survey for Q2 2010, Singapore’s financial sector currently has the highest hiring expectations.  Already, Singapore’s financial sector employment level at almost 170,000 has exceeded pre-crisis highs and 1Q this year continued to see strong employment growth.  Last year, IBF continued with a thematic approach in its career profiling talks at the 3 local universities in partnership with the industry, focusing on areas such as Financial Markets (Operations), Risk Management, Compliance and General Insurance.

16   Students were also provided with an overview of FICS and how they could leverage on FICS to deepen their skills and develop their professional career. 

17   Besides these events, IBF has also enhanced the content in the FinanceConnectSingapore (FCS) website to provide students and practitioners with more information on training courses and career opportunities in Singapore’s financial sector.

Enhancing Competitive Advantage – Key Talent and Leadership Strategies

18  Today’s Conference theme is on Enhancing Competitive Advantage – Key Talent and Leadership Strategies, a most relevant and timely subject.  I am delighted to welcome Professor Adrian Furnham and Professor Ron Collard as the distinguished speakers. I also wish to thank David Conner, Peter Douglas, Ray Ferguson and Seck Wai Kwong for agreeing to participate in a panel discussion later with our guest speakers, and I am sure we can look forward to a lively discussion.

19   In closing, allow me to thank all of you for support to the IBF, including my fellow Council members from the industry and the industry associations, as well as the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, Ministry of Education and my colleagues at the MAS. 

20   Thank you.