FINANCIAL SERVICES, HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Over 4 in 10 senior management roles in banks are Singaporeans: MAS

The regulator assures that citizens are well-represented in local senior roles.

About 43% of senior management roles in Singapore’s banking sector are made up of Singapore citizens, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon.

Singapore citizens also reportedly account for about 70% of the whole financial industry’s workforce, whilst 14% are made up of permanent residents—a sign that “Singaporeans are well represented across business functions.”

Menon was responding to an open letter published at a local newspaper on 14 August, where retired senior banker Raymond Koh Bock Swi said that workforce composition in banks “needs to be examined.”

Koh observed that many foreigners hired in the sector have been for upper-middle to senior management positions. “The loss of lucrative professional, manager, executive and technician jobs to foreigners is a touchy issue in Singapore in the current economic circumstances,” he stated.

He closed his forum letter by alleging that it is common market knowledge that some “big, long established foreign banks have been sidelining Singaporean talent in favour of foreign hires,” and urging authorities to more closely scrutinise this.

In his response, Menon explained that Singapore’s position as a financial means that there is a higher proportion of foreigners in senior management roles at financial institutions.

“As our financial sector attracts more regional and global HQ functions, it creates more good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans. But it also means a higher proportion of foreigners in senior management in these functions as FIs understandably draw from a global talent pool to fill these positions,” he noted.

He admitted the need to improve the local proportion in areas such as technology and risk management.

Menon said that protecting and growing Singaporean jobs, especially given current economic conditions, is a top priority of MAS.

“We want to see a strong Singaporean core complemented by high-quality and diverse foreign talents in every major financial institution (FI),” said Menon, further saying that MAS closely monitors these FIs’ workforce profile by citizens, permanent residents, and foreigners separately.

“MAS engages FIs’ senior management on their workforce profiles and plans to grow the Singaporean core. We will intensify these engagements,” he added.

He further noted that a good number of Singaporeans have assumed regional leadership roles.

“More Singaporeans are taking on overseas positions, typically a prerequisite for these leadership roles. MAS has been working with FIs to develop a strong local leadership pipeline, and the industry is making progress,” said Menon.

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