More PMEs from fintech, banking and financial services get union representation

SINGAPORE - A union representing administrative and managerial staff of banks here has now opened its doors to all other workers in the financial services industry, including higher-level professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).

Previously called the Singapore Bank Officers' Association, the group renamed itself the Banking and Financial Services Union (BFSU) on Wednesday (Jan 9), and can now represent workers such as relationship managers and asset managers.

Separately, the Singapore FinTech Association announced on Friday its new affiliation to the National Trades Union Congress, meaning workers who join as new members will receive the same benefits as NTUC members and have an added outlet to channel ground feedback to policymakers.

It previously only had corporate members, who include fintech companies and banks, numbering around 320.     

It is the first partner of NTUC's U Associate initiative, which pools together guilds and communities to support professionals, to form such an affiliation.

These latest moves come more than a year since the NTUC updated its constitution to serve all workers, including managers and freelancers.

Announcing the changes on Friday at the NTUC Centre, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said: "Technological and digital breakthroughs are really changing consumer behaviour... (as well as professions), including the banking and financing industry.

"This disruption from technologies will not cease anytime soon... blockchain, artificial intelligence will hit our shores, and provide opportunities even as they create new challenges."

Companies and workers must stay relevant or risk falling behind, he added, noting that transformation is tough as it requires employers to understand where opportunities lie, the Government to be generous in providing funding to change industries, and for workers and unions to be on board with changes.

The BFSU, which aims to help professionals stay relevant and competitive amid technological advancement and changes in the industry, aims to double its current membership of 6,200 over the next four years.

Ministry of Manpower statistics show there are some 155,000 workers in the financial services industry.

The union also plans to organise more roadshows, talks and networking sessions this year to attract professionals. The goal is to improve wages, welfare and job prospects of those it represents.

Mr Wee Soon Guan, general secretary of the BFSU, called its change "the first step in the right direction" to make the union more representative of workers in the growing banking and financial sector, which has been changed by disruptive technologies.

"With the formation of the BFSU, we hope to bring more PMEs into the labour movement's fold," said Mr Patrick Tay, who is NTUC assistant secretary-general.

"I am confident that BFSU leaders will be able to work closely with tripartite partners and help their members stay relevant with new skills, be resilient to new ways of working and be prepared for new jobs."

Mr Chia Hock Lai, president of the Singapore FinTech Association, added: "As one of the top financial centres and leading fintech hubs, we see a growing workforce... performing fintech roles.

"The affiliation will enable (the fintech association) to better take care of the needs and welfare of these workers by leveraging the strength of the larger NTUC network."

On Friday, the BFSU also signed a memorandum of understanding with the FinTech Association as well, officially recognising the association as a partner of the union's Finance Industry Professionals Chapter.

Under this collaboration, both groups will work to help professionals upgrade their skill sets as the industry continues to change.