6,500 new jobs this year in financial sector: MAS chief

About 6,000 of them will be permanent, with half in technology and consumer banking

Noting that technology has created more jobs than it displaces, MAS chief Ravi Menon said that the financial sector had created 21,000 net jobs, with about 25 per cent in technology, over the last five years.
Noting that technology has created more jobs than it displaces, MAS chief Ravi Menon said that the financial sector had created 21,000 net jobs, with about 25 per cent in technology, over the last five years.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The financial sector will see 6,500 new jobs created this year, with technology leading the hiring.

Some 44 per cent of these jobs are open to those with "adjacent or no experience" as financial institutions are willing to train mid-careerists, said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon yesterday.

About 6,000 positions will be permanent, with half in technology and consumer banking. The remaining roles are spread across other business lines and functions.

MAS and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) polled financial institutions late last year on their projected hiring this year to obtain these figures. Close to 800 institutions responded, representing about two-thirds of the financial services workforce.

Mr Menon, who is also IBF chairman, was speaking at a webinar that is part of the "Growing Timber" series on the jobs and skills agenda for the sector. It was jointly organised by MAS and IBF.

The financial sector added 2,200 net jobs last year when the economy as a whole shed 180,000 net jobs, he said. Job growth in the sector has also been consistently strong over the past five years.

Mr Menon said that technology has become central to how financial services are produced, distributed and consumed. Singapore's financial sector has harnessed technology across a range of functions, from risk management to business analytics to customer service.

"We are now among the most tech-enabled financial centres in the world, supported by a vibrant fintech ecosystem and strong foundational digital infrastructures," he said. "Singaporeans have benefited significantly from digital financial services. We can see our financial data across different financial institutions and government agencies in one single portal to enable comprehensive financial planning."

He cited SGFinDex, a public digital infrastructure that enables individuals to access, through applications, their financial information held across different government agencies and financial institutions.

But the "multitude of technology talent needed to develop and manage just this one single product" was staggering, said Mr Menon.

The front end of the app is simple and intuitive, but to develop and manage it, a bank has to assemble a highly skilled and diverse technology team.

Listing down roles, he said the team would have to consist of business analysts, system and security architects, API (application programming interface) designers, UI/UX (user interface/user experience) designers, software developers, data analysts and more.

And many of the tech skills needed to do these jobs are in short supply locally, Mr Menon said.

Noting that technology has created more jobs than it displaces, he said the financial sector had created 21,000 net jobs, with about 25 per cent of them in technology, over the last five years.

While Singaporeans took up 75 per cent of the total net jobs, they accounted for only 35 per cent of the tech jobs. "There are simply not enough Singaporeans applying for tech roles. The problem is not jobs. It is skills," Mr Menon said.

The sector is on track to create many good jobs in technology over the next few years, and this will be "a great opportunity for Singaporeans, provided we acquire the skills necessary to take on these jobs".

"The answer does not lie in restricting the inflow of foreign tech expertise. On the contrary, it is by attracting the best tech talents from around the world that we can anchor new tech capabilities and functions that expand job opportunities for Singaporeans," he added.

"The answer lies in individuals, financial institutions and MAS (doing more) to build strong tech capabilities... If we do this right, we can, over time, grow a strong Singaporean core in the technology functions just as we've done in the broader financial sector."

  • 2,200 

    Jobs that the financial sector added last year, while the economy as a whole shed 180,000 net jobs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2021, with the headline '6,500 new jobs this year in financial sector: MAS chief'. Subscribe