Finance professionals cheer new training support

Mr Vane Tok joined DBS under its Service Executive Programme and will complete the two-year stint at the end of the year.
Mr Vane Tok joined DBS under its Service Executive Programme and will complete the two-year stint at the end of the year.PHOTO: DBS

Four early to mid-career financial professionals speak to The Straits Times on how they plan to take advantage of the new SkillsFuture initiatives

ENHANCED SUBSIDIES GIVE THE EXTRA PUSH

Being in the field of cyber security means Mr Matthew Sachi is constantly dealing with issues that are ever-changing and fast-evolving.

That, in turn, means training and keeping up with the latest trends is crucial as the "attacks are getting more sophisticated", says the 39-year-old Mr Sachi .

"It's important for me to keep current with what the latest threats are, and skills upgrading is one way for me to keep current."

Mr Sachi switched from the defence industry to join OCBC Bank as vice-president of cyber security in 2013. He notes that cyber security is a relatively new field in the finance sector, so training is needed for finance professionals across all levels, including the senior executives.

As he turns 40 next year, he will qualify for enhanced subsidies of up to 90 per cent of the cost of approved courses under the new SkillsFuture mid-career enhanced subsidies scheme.

"This really provides great incentive for me and many of my mid-career colleagues to go for further training in our area of work," he says.

"Some courses can cost a few thousand dollars so, without the subsidies, it would be quite a hefty sum for me to fork out."

LEVERAGING ON TRAINING TO GET AHEAD

Mid-career bank executives Diana Lim and Aaron Chia look forward to tapping new programmes in the SkillsFuture initiative.

Ms Lim, 36, has been with Standard Chartered bank since 2003. While on-the-job training was enough to help her sharpen her skills when she was at a more junior level, her responsibilities have since increased while the pace of work has quickened.

She feels that doing an Executive Master of Business Administration would equip her with skills more relevant to her job as a priority segment manager.

"The (SkillsFuture) programme looks very exciting and I'm definitely looking forward to see how I can take advantage of the scheme, to see if I could get any support for my further studies," she says.

On the other hand, Mr Chia, who is from United Overseas Bank, says he regrets that these initiatives did not exist when he switched from the engineering industry to the finance sector in 2005.

"I had a very different training (in engineering), so such training support would have been very useful at that time.

"But I'd still love to be trained today, given that the industry is always evolving," he adds.

As a desk head in charge of channels and business banking treasury in the global markets and investment management department, Mr Chia, 35, has witnessed how clients are getting increasingly sophisticated, given the easy access to information.

"Nowadays, when clients come to us for treasury advice, they would already know everything before meeting us," he says.

He also notes that "disruptive technologies" are also fast changing the landscape of the industry, so he hopes to get support in learning how to cope. "I want to play a part in the digital transformation that the financial industry is going through, so that I can stay relevant to our customers not just in Singapore but the region," he adds.

STRUCTURED PROGRAMME FOR A GOOD HEAD START

Despite graduating with top marks in his engineering diploma programme and earning a place at a local university, Mr Vane Tok decided to take the plunge into the banking sector.

He joined DBS under its new Service Executive Programme, where polytechnic diploma holders go through training and rotations in various roles within a bank branch.

Mr Tok, 27, will complete the two-year stint at the end of the year.

"My programme is similar to the ELP (Earn and Learn Programme) and, if my results are good, I could be promoted to assistant service manager, choose to get an internal transfer to other functions of the bank or join the sales team," he says.

Mr Tok points out that the work experience and additional certificate earned in the Earn and Learn Programme could level the playing field for polytechnic graduates, compared with their degree-holder counterparts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'Finance professionals cheer new training support'. Print Edition | Subscribe