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Singapore’s MAS to engage more with banks on local hiring

·2-min read
A general view shows the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building in Singapore on April 14, 2016. - Emerging market currencies went into a tailspin on April 14 as the Singapore central bank's surprise decision to loosen monetary policy ignited fears about Asia's developing economies, sending shudders across the region. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s financial regulator will step up efforts to urge banks to hire more citizens and develop a strong local leadership pipeline, according to its chief.

“Protecting and growing Singaporean jobs, especially in current economic conditions, is a top priority,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Managing Director Ravi Menon wrote in a letter published late Tuesday in the Straits Times.

The MAS confers with senior management at financial firms on the makeup of their workforces and plans to grow the “Singaporean core,” Menon said. “We will intensify these engagements,” he said.

His comments were in response to a call by former banker Raymond Koh for authorities to scrutinise the composition of senior management at banks to ensure there are more Singaporeans, rather than foreigners who hold permanent residence.

The regulator “closely monitors” the workforce profiles of financial institutions by citizens, permanent residents and foreigners, Menon said. “We want to see a strong Singaporean core complemented by high-quality and diverse foreign talent in every major FI,” he said.

Singapore’s government is trying to strike a balance between citizens and international talent in the financial hub, where home-grown banks including DBS Group Holdings Ltd. compete with global firms such as Standard Chartered Plc and Citigroup Inc.

Read about the MAS’s outlook for Singapore financial jobs

Singaporeans make up 70% of senior management roles in retail banks’ local functions, the MAS estimates. The proportion is about 43% across the entire sector, reflecting Singapore’s role as an international financial centre, Menon said.

“As our financial sector attracts more regional and global HQ functions, it creates more good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans,” said Menon. “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 added that the monetary authority has been working with financial firms “to develop a strong local leadership pipeline, and the industry is making progress.”

Singaporeans make up 70% of overall workers in the financial industry, and permanent residents comprise 14%, according to MAS’s estimates. The regulator wants to see a higher local proportion in areas including technology and risk management, Menon said.

(Updates with comment from Menon in the second-to-last paragraph. An earlier version corrected the date of the letter’s publication.)

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.