Supervisory Approach and Regulatory Instruments

The MAS Act confers MAS powers to issue legal instruments for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions. In addition, MAS also has frameworks and guidelines in place which cut across various classes of financial institutions.

Regulatory Instruments

As a regulator of the financial services industry, MAS issues various instruments under Acts it administers. Find out about the instruments, including how they are classified and their legal effect.

1. Acts

The Acts contain statutory laws under the purview of MAS which are passed by Parliament. These have the force of law and are published in the Government Gazette.


Banking Act , Financial Advisers Act

2. Subsidiary Legislation

Subsidiary legislation is issued under the authority of the relevant Acts. They typically flesh out the provisions of an Act and spells out in greater detail the requirements that financial institutions or other specified persons (e.g. a financial adviser's representative) have to adhere to.

Subsidiary legislation has the force of law and may specify that a contravention is a criminal offence. They are also published in the Government Gazette.


Insurance (Actuaries) Regulations , Banking and Charge Card Regulations

3. Directions

Directions detail specific instructions to financial institutions or other specified persons to ensure compliance. They have legal effect, meaning that MAS could specify whether a contravention of a direction is a criminal offence.

Directions consist of the following:

a. Directives

Directives primarily impose legally binding requirements on an individual financial institution or a specified person.

Note: Directives to merchant banks are essentially notices for the purposes of this classification. For historical reasons, they are known as directives.

b. Notices

Notices primarily impose legally binding requirements on a specified class of financial institutions or persons.


View notices

4. Guidelines

Guidelines set out principles or best practices that govern the conduct of specified institutions or persons.

Contravening guidelines is not a criminal offence and does not attract civil penalties, but specified institutions or persons should observe the spirit of these guidelines.

How well an institution or person observes the guidelines may have an impact on MAS' overall risk assessment of that institution or person.


View guidelines

5. Codes

Codes are a system of rules governing the conduct of certain specified activities. Codes are non-statutory and do not have the force of law. However, a breach of a Code may attract certain non-statutory sanctions like private reprimand or public censure.

A failure to abide by a code does not in itself amount to a criminal offence but may have certain consequences.


6. Practice Notes

Practice notes are meant to guide specified institutions or persons on administrative procedures on matters such as licensing, reporting and compliance.

Contravening a practice note is not a criminal offence, unless a procedure stated in the practice note is also required by an Act or regulation.


Practice Note on Lodgement of Documents for Shares and Debentures (261.9 KB)

7. Circulars

Circulars are documents which are sent to specified persons for their information or are published on the MAS website for public information. Circulars have no legal effect.


View circulars

8. Policy Statements

Policy statements outline broadly the major policies of MAS.