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We Must Continue Hiring Global Talents: MAS Chief at Singapore Financial Forum 2022

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The two-day Singapore financial forum conducted virtually aims to provide both local and global finance professionals with an insight into key career opportunities in the finance sector in Singapore. The forum was organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and Singapore Global Network, a division of the Economic Development Board (EDB).

The forum was attended by local Singaporeans and foreign-based professionals, overseas Singaporeans, other international participants, and industry leaders and professionals from the financial sector in Singapore.

The Managing Director and Chief of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon on Thursday, May 19 said that there are over 3,000 job openings in the technology of which 700 will be for software design and development. Data provided by Singapore’s central bank also reveals that there would be more than 9,400 new jobs in the financial sector this year, with about a third in the areas of technology.

This technological manpower is needed to support the design, development and maintenance of digital financial services, blockchain technology in trade finance and to detect fraud and money laundering with the use of AI.

Mr. Menon, in his inaugural address at the Singapore Financial Forum, highlighted that data from the Asian Development Bank signals strong exports and domestic demand, driving accelerating economic growth in Asia at more than 5% per annum in the coming years.

While discussing the issue of building a strong Singaporean core, Mr. Menon emphasized that it is “not a ‘Singaporeans-only’ strategy” because such a strategy might put Singapore’s position as a global financial hub in jeopardy, the reason being there are simply not enough high skilled local Singaporeans to fulfil the fast and ever-expanding need of specialists for the financial institutions. He advised that Singapore must grow a strong local talent pool while attracting and retaining global talent.

MAS Chief emphasized that Singapore must invest in developing the right skills and capabilities amongst the local workforce and ensure fair employment opportunities.

As per MAS, there were over 3,000 Singapore citizens in the financial sector last year in senior roles, 80% higher than those in 2016.

Mr. Menon said, “The financial sector is growing rapidly and creating more jobs than our small local workforce can meet. Our labour market is tightening with unfilled vacancies and rising wages.”

He also cautioned, “If we do not remain open to global talent, our financial sector will lose its competitiveness and growth will be sub-par,”

The MAS Chief stressed that Singapore must keep on hiring foreign professionals despite work pass policy changes.

“The changes are not to cut the intake of Employment Pass holders but to enable entry of high-quality global talent in a more transparent and flexible way”, he emphasized.

The MAS Chief also said that Singapore’s financial centre is performing its role very well and the prospects remain very bright over the coming years.

Mr. Menon informed that the financial sector in Singapore exhibited strong performance during all waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and registered an impressive annual average growth rate of 7.2% during 2020-21 which is four times higher than the overall economic growth rate in Singapore. The last two years also witnessed the creation of 5,800 jobs in the financial services area and the growth achieved in this sector has been across all areas including banking, insurance, asset management, and payment services.

While discussing the broad-based growth in the financial sector, the MAS Chief also talked about the well developed private equity and venture capital ecosystem for smart funding providing capital to the entrepreneurs who look for a company set up in Singapore.

Mr. Menon also discussed how the wealth management services sector is promoting Single family offices in Singapore and supporting wealthy Asian families to professionally manage their wealth and realize smooth hassle-free succession planning for the next generations.

He informed that in the insurance space, new capabilities are being developed to offer clients risk advisory services for complex and structural risks including cyber-attacks, pandemics, climate and environmental risks.

The MAS Chief informed that the economy of Singapore is well on track and would grow by 3–5% in 2022 despite geopolitical issues worsening the global economic environment. As per him, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has triggered risky situations in terms of growth and inflation globally.

Mr. Menon, however, sounded optimistic due to the ongoing global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on economic activities. He believed that the growth in the financial sector should be, at a minimum, at par with the overall economy.

“More importantly, the Asian growth story remains intact, and Singapore’s financial centre is well-positioned to support and grow with Asia. The Asian Development Bank estimates that strong exports and domestic demand will drive developing Asia’s growth at more than 5% per annum in the coming years. Demand for financial services typically grows faster than income as the middle class and mass affluent base expands,” Mr. Menon noted.

He also spoke of the widespread use of smart and innovative technologies in the financial sector as the key driver of growth

Mr. Menon confirmed that the financial institutions in Singapore are also heavily investing in technology as major banking and insurance houses are undergoing digital transformation at a fast pace and intensifying recruitment drive in AI, data science and application development.

As digital technology is the future of finance and global economies, the opening speech of MAS Chief was mostly centred on emerging technologies, skilled human capital and futuristic strategies. “To continue growing as a leading international financial centre in Asia, we need a future-ready workforce – comprising a strong Singaporean Core complemented by a pool of deep and diverse global talent,” the Chief of MAS remarked.

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