Extract of Keynote Address at Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) Annual Dinner

Published Date: 30 June 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman, Monetary Authority of Singapore

SkillsFuture in Financial Services

1.The next 10 years will be both disruptive and transformative for financial institutions and markets. New technologies will have a significant bearing on the scale and nature of financial sector jobs - everywhere from the front-end of consumer transactions and advice, to the middle and back-end business of processing, risk management and data analysis.

2.Many jobs in finance will be at risk around the world. But if we prepare well for the changes reshaping global finance, there is significant opportunity in this for Singapore and for Singaporeans working in finance.

3.Our vision is to be a financial centre that is among the leaders globally in workforce skills and expertise, and one with a strong core of Singaporeans at every level.

4.MAS has been engaging the top leadership of key financial institutions, here in Singapore and in headquarters overseas, on our initiatives. Their response has been positive. They recognise and support our desire to develop deep skills and a strong pipeline of Singaporean talent, as part of a vibrant and competitive global financial centre. It is in our collective interest that we do this, and in the interests of each financial institution over the long term.

5.As part of the national SkillsFuture effort, MAS in partnership with the industry and educational and training institutes is now embarking on further initiatives. We will strengthen support for every finance professional to learn continuously, develop his or her expertise, and have a good career. This includes developing Singaporean leaders in finance, with the capabilities to take on responsibilities in Asia and further afield.

Continual Learning and Deepening Specialist Skills

6.Let me describe these initiatives briefly, starting with our efforts to promote continual learning and to develop deep pools of financial sector expertise in Singapore.

Finance Scholarship Programme (FSP)

7.First, under the Finance Scholarship Programme (FSP), MAS supports early-career Singaporeans in developing specialist capabilities through post-graduate studies. This includes specialisations in quantitative finance, risk management, actuarial science and specialty insurance, and emerging priorities such as cyber security, data analytics and fraud risk detection. Since the scholarship’s inauguration in 2006, more than 150 FSP scholarships have been awarded. MAS will provide 30 scholarships per year to add to the pipeline of specialist talents in the financial sector.

SkillsFuture Study Awards

8.Second, MAS will offer up to 70 SkillsFuture Study Awards each year for financial sector professionals. These awards aim to equip Singaporeans, especially those in the early to mid-stages of their careers, to develop and deepen their skills through a wide range of programmes, including shorter courses, especially in areas where industry expertise remain in short supply.

Subsidies for Continual Learning

9.Third, and most broadly, we will also provide generous subsidies to support Singaporean finance professionals in continual learning related to financial sector competencies. MAS currently funds up to 70% of the costs of financial sector training courses. In addition, as announced in this year’s Budget, subsidies for all Singaporeans aged 40 and above will be enhanced to a minimum of 90% of training costs for approved courses. This is a significant subsidy from the Government, as we recognise there are opportunity costs that mid-career Singaporeans face when they go for further education and training.

Earn and Learn Programmes

10.The initiatives I have just described are aimed at all Singaporeans in the financial sector, and especially to help our PMEs stay on top of a changing world of professional jobs. Regardless of whether they start their careers with a master’s degree or diploma, we must help them learn continuously, and pick up the skills needed for new jobs in finance.

11.Our fourth initiative is more specific, and is aimed at providing fresh polytechnic graduates with good opportunities early in their careers. MAS will be introducing the Financial Sector Earn and Learn Programmes for this purpose.

12.For the prospective polytechnic graduate, this 12-18 month work-study programme will allow him or her to gain valuable employment experience at a financial institution and to receive training which counts towards a Specialist or Advanced diploma upon completion of the programme. These work-study programmes will be designed in collaboration with financial institutions, the polytechnics and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

13.I am pleased to see that the major banks in Singapore have committed to provide at least 200 places for polytechnic graduates in the coming year, through the Earn and Learn Programmes or their in-house structured programmes. (They include all three local banks - DBS, OCBC, UOB - as well as ANZ, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citibank, JP Morgan, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank.) These will be in the banks’ core functions of technology, consumer banking, operations and risk management.

14.Wherever you start, we will help you progress. To give an example, Oryan Ang, graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic and joined DBS in 2004 as a Home Advice Specialist. He was given opportunities to learn on the job, demonstrate his abilities and rise through the ranks, and is today a Vice-President in Consumer Banking (Deposits and Secured Lending) at the bank.

Developing Strong Core of Singaporean Leaders in Finance

15.Let me turn finally to the second thrust of our initiatives to develop professional talent and skills, which concerns leadership development. This too is a key priority under SkillsFuture. The development of a strong core of Singaporean leaders in finance, working in diverse global teams, will define our continued success as a financial centre. MAS takes this very seriously.

16.We have in recent years introduced several initiatives to promote the development of Singaporean leaders in the financial industry.

  • The Finance Associate Management Scheme (FAMS) offers promising young professionals exposure to different aspects of a financial institution’s global operations and mentorship by senior leaders.

  • The International Posting Programme (iPOST) has supported more than 35 overseas postings of Singaporeans in finance since its launch in 2013. They have acquired valuable practical experience in diverse working cultures over their 6 to 24-month attachments to regional and global offices of financial institutions. Asian Financial Leaders Programme (AFLP)

17.To further strengthen these efforts, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Asian Financial Leaders Programme (AFLP).

  • The AFLP will take advantage of Singapore’s strong and expanding linkages in the region, including ASEAN, China and India, and aim to strengthen those links through leadership development.

  • It is aimed at equipping finance professionals aspiring to C-suite roles with the knowledge and capabilities to operate effectively across diverse business, regulatory, and legal environments.

  • Participants will be given the opportunity to learn from and interact with top policy-makers from the region and to also build networks with fellow financial sector leaders.

  • The AFLP will be administered jointly by Temasek Management Services and Singapore Management University, with the first intake of AFLP participants slated for November this year.


18.We are now embarked on our next phase of development as a financial centre. It will be driven by deeper collaboration between MAS and the industry, a collective effort to leverage on new technologies, and by staking a position as a leading global centre of financial skills and expertise. The exciting thing is that we can actually achieve this.

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