Banks in Singapore ensure locals remain the bulk of their workforce

A view of Standard Chartered and HSBC at Marina Bay Financial Centre on Feb 25, 2020.
A view of Standard Chartered and HSBC at Marina Bay Financial Centre on Feb 25, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Banks here say they keep a strong local core in the workforce, while growing the pipeline of local talent.

Their responses come as the Monetary Authority of Singapore urged financial institutions to groom Singaporean leaders and grow the talent pool.

Standard Chartered said on Wednesday (Aug 12) that staff levels here have grown from 8,000 to 10,000 in recent years, with Singaporeans forming 70 per cent of the headcount.

"The bank has invested heavily in grooming Singaporean leaders - 70 per cent of its Singapore management team are Singaporeans," it said in a statement. "The bank has many Singapore core leaders across global and regional roles as well and there are currently 140 Singaporeans posted overseas."

DBS said that over 90 per cent of its 12,000-strong workforce here are Singaporeans and PRs. It added that it is committed "to developing local employees across all levels, while ensuring a strong complement between our local and foreign talent". All Singapore-based group management committee members, including the bank's group chief executive Piyush Gupta and the heads of key business and support functions, are Singaporeans and PRs, it said. 

Around 75 per cent of UBS' workforce comprises Singaporeans or permanent residents (PRs). It has close to 3,000 employees across various divisions.

Some of its key Singaporean management committee members include its president for the Asia-Pacific, Mr Edmund Koh, for instance.

A UBS spokesman said: "We believe in the importance of long-term succession planning and talent development, which is why we have been nurturing the future pipeline of financial leaders through our UBS University as well as our latest UBS-Super programme."

The programme aims to help graduates and mid-career workers develop sustainable skills for the future financial sector.

HSBC bank said more than 85 per cent of employees are Singaporeans or PRs, while almost 75 per cent of senior staff positions are held by Singaporeans or PRs. There are also 250 Singaporeans working overseas in senior positions within the bank.


A HSBC spokesman said: "Our support extends to building a strong Singapore core and we have policies and measures to invest, develop, and promote Singaporean talent - both within Singapore and abroad.

"As an international bank, HSBC also unreservedly supports diversity and inclusion as something that reflects our values but also makes for a stronger and more sustainable organisation."

Locals account for 90 per cent of OCBC Group's headcount here.

Ms Jacinta Low, its head of human resource planning, said: "When we are looking to hire someone for a role, we look for candidates with the right skills and experience which best fit the role. We also look out for whether the candidate embodies values which align with our organisation's core values."

United Overseas Bank deputy chairman and chief executive Wee Ee Cheong added that while it has adjusted hiring plans for the year, it does not plan on retrenching due to the pandemic.