Thursday 24 May 2012

Grooming Singapore talent for finance

Courses, scholarships among plans for building pipeline of professionals
By Yasmine Yahya, The Straits Times, 23 May 2012

PLANS to develop Singaporean talent for the key finance industry will be rolled out, with moves to have more scholarships for young professionals and help with international postings.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will work with financial institutions to co-fund courses to groom young Singaporeans for leadership roles.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told a gathering of industry professionals last night that the sector must build a strong pipeline of potential leaders and specialist talent among Singaporeans even as it stays open to global expertise.

'Young Singaporeans especially are mobile and making the most of opportunities - many are working in Hong Kong, New York and London,' noted Mr Tharman, speaking at the Financial Industry Competency Standards (FICS) annual conference. 'We must keep growing those opportunities for them (here).'

He said the programmes will give the young bankers greater exposure to different aspects of a bank's global operations and give them opportunities to be mentored by their seniors.

The Financial Scholarship Programme (FSP) will be expanded for young bankers to develop their skills in specialist tracks, such as quantitative finance, risk management and specialty insurance.

Financial institutions will also be helped to create opportunities that allow mid-career bankers to gain more specialist knowledge and international exposure.

MAS will even help find solutions to problems faced by Singaporeans taking international postings, he said, such as ensuring suitable schooling for their children, both overseas and when they return, and career opportunities abroad for their spouses.

As well, MAS will work with the industry to develop the 'Asian advantage'. 'Singapore is in a unique position, given our growing networks within Asean and with China, India and the Middle East, to develop deep pools of knowledge of these regions,' Mr Tharman said.

DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said the measures were timely, as Asia will need a much bigger pipeline of skilled and worldly talent over the next few decades, as the region's financing needs will grow rapidly.

'You cannot expect to run a multi-country regional bank like ours in today's world without having worked in multiple countries, without having dealt with different cultures, and without having picked up the financial practices of different markets.'

Standard Chartered CEO Ray Ferguson noted the bank believes in taking care of its 'Singapore core', where it looks for foreign talent only if there are no suitable local candidates. Singaporeans fill top leadership roles around the region such as the CEO in China and the head of governance for the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Mr Tharman added that the Institute of Banking and Finance will introduce a revamped programme for new entrants in areas such as compliance and corporate banking. He also gave out the Distinguished Financial Industry Certified Professional and Friends of FICS awards.

Banks hail plans to groom S'poreans for key positions
Industry leaders say tapping local talent has always been a priority
By Esther Teo , Magdalen Ng, The Straits Times, 24 May 2012

BANK bosses have backed plans to groom local talent for leadership positions and specialist roles in the finance industry, while recruitment companies flagged areas where expertise is lacking.

Industry leaders said they are 'heartened' by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's call this week to build a strong pipeline of local finance leaders that will boost Singapore as a financial centre.

Mr Tharman announced plans to roll out more scholarships for young professionals and offer help with international postings.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will also work with financial institutions to co-fund courses to groom young Singaporeans for leadership roles.

A Straits Times check found most local and foreign banks here are staffed largely by Singaporeans and permanent residents.

About 75 per cent of Standard Chartered's 7,000-strong workforce is made up of locals and PRs. UBS Singapore's proportion is close to 80 per cent, while the figure stands at more than 90 per cent for DBS Bank and Maybank.

Ms Samantha Chia, head of human resources at DBS, said the bank believes in grooming talent in the markets it operates in and tapping their local connections and knowledge.

'There is a rich pool of Singaporean talent to tap, and that is our priority.'

That is the same approach taken by Stanchart Singapore chief executive Ray Ferguson, who noted that it is the bank's 'responsibility to groom a sustainable pipeline of local talent'.

He is keen to work more closely with the Government on a formalised mentorship programme.

Stanchart also recruits actively from local universities, hiring an average of 60 graduates a year, mostly Singaporeans.

Mr Edmund Koh, chief executive of UBS, said growing and grooming the pipeline of local talent has always been an important priority for the bank. It launched the UBS Business University Asia-Pacific here in 2007 to provide training for staff who are new to the wealth management and financial industry, and ongoing training and professional development for existing staff.

But industry players admit that Singapore's talent pool is lacking when it comes to roles in specialised and unique fields such as speciality insurance, quantitative finance and risk management. However, other countries also grapple with finding the right talent for these areas.

Mr Jerome Bouin, managing director of recruitment consultancy Michael Page International, said there is also a shortage of local talent at the very senior end of the investment banking and private equity industries.

'Roles requiring specialist finance skills in the oil and gas and metals and mining industries are also difficult to match with existing local talent at this point, but with more Singaporeans building the necessary competency and skill sets, this is set to change.

'This phenomenon is not limited to Singapore, as we see an increasing demand across Asia for local talent in the banking and finance industry with the necessary international exposure and specialist skills, as the region continues to invest and grow.'

Ms Lam Yimin, a consultant at Robert Walters Singapore's financial services division, said there is a shortage of talent in the more technical areas of quantitative finance and risk management, as these are relatively new areas for Singapore's finance industry.

'In addition, Singapore has historically taken direction from the United States or Europe on emerging developments in these areas before implementing frameworks locally.

'This means it will take time to build up a talent pool of professionals,' she added.

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