The United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore held the 7th UK-Singapore Financial Dialogue in Singapore today. Both countries renewed their commitment to deepening the UK-Singapore Financial Partnership that was agreed in 2021, discussed mutual priorities such as sustainable finance, FinTech and innovation, and agreed on further cooperation in these areas.
Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, at the Opening of the Wealth Management Institute on One Marina Boulevard on 9 February 2022
Mr Lim Chow Kiat and Members of the Board of Trustees,
Wealth Management Institute,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning. I am pleased to join you for the opening of the Wealth Management Institute’s new campus at One Marina Boulevard.
a. It has been almost twenty years since the WMI was established in 2003. I am glad that Ms Ho Ching and Mr Ng Kok Song, who are instrumental to the founding of WMI, are here with us today.
b. I also see many other familiar faces, who form part of the extended community of support that has enabled WMI to grow, including Temasek, GIC, MAS, EDB and members of the finance community.
Financial Services Sector
2. The financial services sector has been a key pillar of Singapore’s economy. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector registered strong growth over the past two years.
a. In the first nine months of 2021, the financial services sector grew by 8% and created 2,000 net jobs, all of which went to locals. In the years to come, the financial sector will continue to grow, creating more good jobs. But the sector is not static.
b. As mentioned by Chow Kiat in his speech, the world is facing major challenges and transitions – from COVID-19, to the rapid advancement of technology, climate change and geo-political contestation. The financial services sector will be impacted by these changes. But it can also play a key role in enabling a successful transition.
c. We need to keep abreast of the changes, and make the most of the opportunities presented.. We are on a solid footing today, as we had
embarked on the Finance Services Industry Transformation Roadmap and the Green Finance Action Plan more than two years ago.
d. As the pace of change quickens, we must redouble our efforts at transformation and invest even more in our people – to help those in the finance sector upskill and stay relevant, and enable more workers to join this growth area.
Asset and Wealth Management
3. Asset and wealth management is a core part of the financial services sector and underpins our position as a global financial node.
a. Back in 2003 – the year WMI was established, Singapore had a small but fledging asset and wealth management scene. Asset under management, or AUM, was $465billion.
b. Fast forward to the present, the total AUM in Singapore has reached $4.7trillion, a ten-fold increase. We are also seeing a wider diversity of ecosystem players, ranging from traditional managers, private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, and family offices.
c. Singapore has become a gateway for global monies seeking opportunities in Asia Pacific, and as a channel for regional funds seeking to invest global. Many asset and wealth managers have domiciled their funds and based their investment teams in Singapore.
4. The potential for asset and wealth management in Asia is tremendous. We live in one of the fastest-growing regions in the world and Asia’s financing needs are high and growing.
a. In tandem with economic development, private wealth in Asia is also growing rapidly, with a burgeoning middle class and an increasing number of ultra-high net worth.
b. By attracting the flow of private capital in the region and around the world to Singapore, and investing these monies in an impactful way, we can create a virtuous circle that is mutually beneficially for communities and investors alike.
c. With the emergence of financial innovations across investment solutions, and clients having a wider range of risk appetites and more complex needs, asset and wealth managers will need to find new ways to create value for their customers and stakeholders.
5. Developing our human capital will be key, for our asset and wealth management industry to grow, and for Singapore to play a constructive role in the deployment of capital. This is where WMI has a significant part to play, with the support of the wider finance community.
a. In wealth management, WMI is the lead training provider for the private banking industry. In the last three years, WMI trained over 8,000 private banking participants, helping deepen their competencies and enabling them to support their clients better.
b. In asset management, WMI has been working on an Asset Management Accelerator Programme. Through this programme, new industry entrants and career switchers will be able to access a structured, IBF-accredited learning pathway that prepares them to enter this fast-growing sector.
c. But you have not stopped here. As the industry continues to transform, you are catering to emerging areas of demand and helping to provide participants with a more international perspective.
6. One emerging area of demand is the growth of family offices in Singapore. There are currently more than 400 family offices here.
a. To cater to their human capital needs, WMI started the Global-Asia Family Office Circle last year, with the support of EDB and MAS.
b. This initiative not only provides training and upskilling, but also opportunities for family principals and professionals to interact.
7. As economies around the world become even more integrated, the global flow of capital to support opportunities for development and innovation will become even more important. It is important that participants have an even broader international perspective. In this regard, I am glad that WMI is working with global partners and faculty in program development.
a. One partner is Ray Dalio, who is also a long-time friend of Singapore. With his generous grant, WMI set up a centre of excellence on market principles.
b. The flagship course – the Dalio Sustainable Markets Principles Program – brings together distinguished global investors to teach their investment approaches.
c. The first course run will commence next month, and we will be hearing more from Ray later.
8. I commend WMI for your commitment to human capital development for the wealth and asset management sector. WMI will play an even more critical role in the years ahead as we seek to transform and grow our asset and wealth management industry, and do our part to tackle global challenges and development.
9. One major global challenge in the coming years is sustainable development. We must mobilise resources to decisively tackle the challenges posed by climate change.
a. COVID-19 – far from derailing the green agenda – has given it greater urgency and fresh momentum. As economies rebound, Singapore is doing our part to contribute to a green recovery in Asia.
b. As part of the Green Finance Action Plan, which I mentioned earlier, a key pillar is to develop the markets and solutions to fund the development and adoption of low-carbon technologies in Asia.
c. To realise this objective, the Action Plan also has building knowledge and capabilities in sustainable finance as a key priority. This would naturally include asset and wealth managers, as well as family offices.
10. I am pleased to announce that MAS and the Institute of Banking and Finance are launching a set
a. This set of skills and competencies are what finance professionals need to effectively perform their roles in sustainable finance.
b. For example, asset managers will have to be proficient in analysing sustainable investment opportunities and integrate ESG into their investment approach. This is in addition to having basic knowledge of climate and sustainable trends and its impact on the various sectors.
c. Financial institutions can reference this framework for the upskilling needs of their professionals. The framework will also be an important reference for training providers, including WMI.
11. WMI already has a strong suite of existing ESG programmes. I am pleased to know that WMI is planning to enhance your offerings with additional courses, taking reference from the Sustainable Finance Technical Skills and Competencies.
a. For example, WMI is planning to launch an ESG Certification programme for Family Office Advisors next month. In the subsequent months, WMI has lined up additional ESG programmes for investors, private bankers, and other stakeholders in the financial ecosystem.
b. Together, these will help level up over 1,000 finance professionals and investors in ESG over the next 3 years. It is important that you continue to lean forward to support the transformation of the finance sector as we build a greener future.
12. Let me conclude by coming back to where we are today – WMI’s new campus at One Marina Boulevard.
a. Located in the heart of the financial district, the campus is set up with the latest digital technology for hybrid classroom learning. The new campus will enable you to serve aspiring and current financial professionals better.
b. This is critical as WMI will have an even more critical role to play as we seek to grow our wealth and asset management sector.
13. Congratulations once again, and let me also wish everyone a safe and prosperous Year of the Tiger! Thank you.