Most financial sector jobs will be impacted by technology so employees must reskill: IBF and MAS

About 100 out of 121 positions in the financial sector have tasks that risk being merged or displaced by automation or will be enhanced by data analytics.
About 100 out of 121 positions in the financial sector have tasks that risk being merged or displaced by automation or will be enhanced by data analytics.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Most jobs in the financial sector will be merged or changed because technology will render their repetitive tasks obsolete, and employees must reskill to keep up, the Institute of Banking and Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a report.

About 100 out of 121 positions in the sector - including credit and loan officers, fund accountants and product managers - have tasks that risk being merged or displaced by automation or will be enhanced by data analytics in three to five years, the two agencies said in the joint report on Tuesday (April 23).

It also highlighted the skills that each role will need to cope with the changes brought about by technology.

For example, a relationship manager currently prepares thorough financial analysis and regular credit reviews in accordance to a bank's guidelines to evaluate a customer's credit risk.

But machine learning can be used in the future to analyse large data sets from various sources, allowing banks to model credit risk for clients more accurately.

Relationship managers must thus develop lateral thinking skills that will help them connect the dots and stay focused on the big picture.

Another example is the brand ambassador at a bank, who will take on roles currently typical of a bankteller, customer service officer and a relationship manager.

 
 
 

A brand ambassador's tasks can include using advanced analytics to predict customers' needs, managing chatbots and developing new businesses with their coverage and product colleagues.

The report noted that the rise of data analytics and automation may not result in a shrinking workforce in the financial sector.

In New York, stronger demand for computer engineers made up for a fall in the number of traders in investment banks when computerised trading disrupted the trading of stocks about 20 years ago, it pointed out.

"Few job roles, if any, within financial services would be entirely displaced by automation, without the need for human oversight or intervention," the report noted.

But few job roles will remain unchanged as a result of new technologies, it added.

Employees need to take the lead on how they develop at work by recognising the need for lifelong learning. They should also constantly seek out opportunities to learn and stay on top of the changes resulting from data analytics and automation, it added.

Training providers, education institutes and financial institutes should work together to reskill workers with a useful curriculum, while the Government should focus on driving the adoption of common baseline skills for digital-related tasks.

"While a variety of skills are required for job holders to successfully navigate the transformation of their respective job roles, the Government can place more of its efforts towards helping job holders become more tech-enabled," the report said.

It can put out more information on the changes in the workforce to raise awareness and to motivate people to actively develop themselves, and offer incentives and opportunities to encourage them to upgrade their skills.

The two agencies commissioned consultancy company EY Singapore to conduct the study.