MAS urges financial institutions to groom local leaders and grow Singaporean talent pool

The MAS also urged companies to ensure their hiring practices comply with the MOM's Fair Consideration Framework.
The MAS also urged companies to ensure their hiring practices comply with the MOM's Fair Consideration Framework.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Financial institutions should continue to identify Singaporeans with high potential for leadership roles and expand the supply of talented locals, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Wednesday (Aug 12).

The call comes a week after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that 47 employers were placed on the watch list for possible discriminatory hiring practices. Most were from the financial and professional services sectors.

MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh told the SGUnited Financial Sector Jobs and Skills Fair: "We have to remain open and will continue to welcome global talent that complement our workforce. Employers must, however, hire in a responsible manner and commit to growing the local talent pool."

The financial sector created 22,000 jobs from 2015 to the end of 2019, with three in four going to locals. The median monthly income of locals in the sector last year was $7,600, well above the national median of $4,600. 

Employment in the sector is also estimated to increase by 1,500 new positions in the first half of this year, with locals continuing to account for three in four jobs. 

Ms Loh noted that attracting firms to set up their regional or global headquarters here means they will bring a diversity of talent from their global workforce, which may affect the proportion of Singaporeans on the staff.

"However, anchoring more global and regional functions here also brings along more growth, good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans," she added.

"Further, it opens up possibilities for Singaporeans to tap on the international footprint of these global financial institutions to gain overseas exposure, with some taking leadership positions overseas."

She added that most employers hire responsibly, ensuring that they build up the number of talented locals even as foreigners are brought in to plug gaps.


"Building a strong pipeline of local talent is key to supporting and sustaining a financial institution's long-term build-out in Singapore," Ms Loh said.

"It... facilitates their deeper appreciation of Singapore and the region's dynamics to facilitate better business outcomes as well."

The MAS introduced an International Postings scheme in 2013 to place promising Singaporeans in overseas positions.

The scheme was enhanced this year to provide 90 per cent co-funding of qualifying costs for postings to South-east Asia and 70 per cent co-funding to other Asian locations.

The MAS also urged companies to ensure their hiring practices comply with the MOM's Fair Consideration Framework.

Standard Chartered Bank said it ensures that Singaporeans remain at the core while strengthening its workforce. Its staff levels here have grown from 8,000 to 10,000 in the last few 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."

The MAS also called on companies to support their workers amid the pandemic and take a longer-term view in investing in their capabilities, such as reskilling them for new roles.

Around 25 local and foreign financial institutions have committed to support close to 5,000 employees in reskilling and redeployment into new roles, of whom 3,000 have taken the first steps in this process.

Of these, 900 have already completed their training and are in new roles.

"These efforts have helped to avoid retrenchment of staff who might otherwise be displaced, and contributed to the steady decline in retrenchments in the financial sector," Ms Loh said. "However, given the accelerated pace of digitalisation, we need to do more, and at scale."

This includes experimenting with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform with 13 financial institution to automate the process of identifying jobs and skills so workers can reskill and move into suitable roles.

About 60 financial institutions have offered 1,300 or so SGUnited Traineeship positions to fresh and recent graduates. And around 50 firms have committed to hiring 900 Singaporeans over the next three years to be groomed for future leadership and specialist roles under structured talent development programmes supported by the MAS.