Singapore has great advantage in post-Covid-19 world: MAS chief Ravi Menon

MAS chief Ravi Menon said Singapore has made a name for itself as a beacon of trust, stability and resilience.
MAS chief Ravi Menon said Singapore has made a name for itself as a beacon of trust, stability and resilience.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore has made a name for itself as a beacon of trust, stability and resilience through the Covid-19 crisis, and has a big advantage in the post-pandemic world given the greater premium placed on such qualities, said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon on Thursday (April 8).

"We are a Global-Asia node, we are the conduit through which the rest of the world comes into Asia, and we want to be the conduit through which Asia reaches out to the rest of the world," he said.

This is the Republic's unique value proposition which it seeks to continue strengthening, he added.

Mr Menon was speaking on a panel on the banking sector which was moderated by Singapore Management University's Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice) Annie Koh.

The panel at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore was held on the sidelines of the Association of Banks in Singapore's (ABS) annual general meeting.

Mr Menon's sentiments were shared by his fellow panellists - OCBC Bank's retiring chief executive and the outgoing ABS chairman, Mr Samuel Tsien, and Mr Wee Ee Cheong, deputy chairman and CEO at UOB and incoming ABS chairman.

They spoke about the opportunities for the financial services sector in Singapore, pointing to three major themes: Asia, technology and sustainability.

While these trends are not new, they have been accentuated by the events of the pandemic, and firms as well as countries that cannot keep up with the changes will be left behind, Mr Menon pointed out.

But while Singapore is well placed to harness new technologies, it has its challenges as well.

"As a country we need to pivot. Smart nation is not a slogan; there's a lot of meaning embedded in it," he said, noting that Singapore needs to develop its digital infrastructure.

Mr Wee outlined several priorities of the ABS, such as making sure that banks remain resilient in an uncertain market.

Upskilling and reskilling employees for future-readiness is also key, he said, stressing the importance of treating workers genuinely and giving them opportunities to develop.

During the 45-minute discussion, the three speakers also spoke about the lessons over the past year and paid testament to the collaboration between banks and the MAS, as they worked together to develop relief packages for customers.

Mr Tsien said: "I think the most important thing is that we now have the confidence that we can ride through crises. We do not overestimate the future crises, but I think we have increased our confidence... and the public and private sector collaboration is so strong that we will be able to overcome anything that happens in the future."