Published Date: 17 February 2016

Speech by Ms Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the ABS Chinese New Year lunch on 17 February

Chairman and Council Members of the ABS,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you today to officially announce the formation of the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee. On behalf of the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee or FSTC for short, I would like to thank ABS for inviting us to join you at this festive event.

SkillsFuture was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Budget 2015, and it aims to provide Singaporeans with opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points. Through this initiative, individuals will be able to develop the skills and mastery in whichever field they are in or job that they do.

To achieve the SkillsFuture objective, tripartism is key. The FSTC brings together the industry associations, government and labour movement, to foster a financial sector workforce that is versatile and well-equipped to embrace the opportunities and changing needs of the financial industry.

The FSTC will first work with the banking sector, and extend its coverage to the insurance and asset management sectors later this year. On the banking front, let me say how pleased and delighted we are to have ABS’ strong commitment and collaboration towards the national SkillsFuture movement and active participation in the FSTC.

The FSTC members first met in August 2015. For a start, we have decided to focus on helping the financial sector workforce to achieve the following:   firstly, enhance versatility; secondly, facilitate mobility; and thirdly, build resilience. Allow me to comment briefly on these three thrusts.

First, enhancing versatility. As the financial sector evolves, with technology exerting powerful forces of change, the profile of jobs in the industry will also undergo transformation. The financial sector workforce will be required to deepen their functional expertise, as well as acquire cross-functional capabilities. 

  • For instance, we envision a transformational leap  where the service of banking is integrated into an individual’s lifestyle or a business’ lifecycle. Using data analytics for example, banking services can be offered pre-emptively, tailored to the customer’s lifestyle, profile and preferences.
  • For businesses, the bank can monitor an SME’s working capital needs based on data such as its supply chain cycle, receivables/payables and inventory management.

Financial institutions will therefore demand a greater range of skillsets, from experts who can understand customer psychology and create customer-centric designs and applications, to professionals who can combine good business knowledge and strong data analysis skills.

MAS has a range of schemes to support the learning journey at all levels, from Undergraduates and Fresh Graduates, to Early/Mid-career Professionals, and to those in Leadership positions. We have prepared a “SkillsFuture for the Financial Sector” infographic that you can find at your table which provides more information on these schemes.

But there is more that we can do in this fast changing environment. For jobs in demand such as in compliance and risk management, the FSTC will collaborate with IBF to review the additional programmes that may be needed to upskill industry competencies. We will also work with IBF to identify new cross-functional competencies needed, such as in data analytics and digital banking.  

Second, facilitating mobility. Ee Cheong and Patrick have touched on the collaboration with ABS and the formation of the Financial Industry Career Advisory Centre (FiCAC). The current jobs landscape in the financial sector has become more fluid and dynamic. Even as some global financial institutions undertake restructuring efforts and are rightsizing their regional operations, other banks continue to expand and hire.  We also see strong demand for good talent in key areas such as Asset and Wealth Management, Insurance, Compliance and Risk Management.  Therefore, it is important and timely to establish an industry driven career advisory centre which can provide support to individuals by firstly, providing expert guidance from industry practitioners on the career opportunities within the financial sector, and secondly, advising how they can better equip themselves to secure such opportunities. This would help us to better retain skilled and experienced professionals within the financial industry, and importantly, empower finance professionals to take charge of their careers.

Third, building resilience. Given the highly specialised nature of jobs in the financial sector, many in the workforce would have spent most of their careers performing quite specific roles.  As job roles evolve, they must be both ready and willing to adjust to new demands and requirements.  The FSTC is partnering NTUC’s e2i to pilot a change management programme that will help the financial sector employees adopt a positive mindset towards change, and skills upgrading. Through this programme, they will understand the key drivers of change, the need to deal with a more complex and dynamic environment, and hence strengthen their motivations to reskill, upskill and acquire new skills. Through this, we will build a more resilient financial sector workforce that can adapt to change, and encourage them to take charge of their learning and career pathways. For a start, the three local banks will be participating in the programme in March 2016.  

The Year of the Monkey will present both challenges and opportunities to the business landscape. Looking further ahead, the operating environment will be increasingly competitive, and driven by technology. The FSTC has an important and relevant role to play in helping our financial sector workforce to equip themselves well with strong capabilities, and build meaningful careers in the industry.  

With agility that the Monkey Year ushers in, and strong tripartite collaboration, I am confident that our financial sector workforce will stay nimble and navigate the evolving operating environment with good jobs for Singaporeans, and reinforcing Singapore’s position as a leading international financial centre.

On that note, please allow me to wish you a Happy lunar new year!