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Singaporeans in senior finance roles almost double in six years

·2-min read
Singaporeans in senior finance roles almost double in six years.  (PHOTO: Roslan RAHMAN/AFP)
Singaporeans in senior finance roles almost double in six years. (PHOTO: Roslan RAHMAN/AFP)

By Joyce Koh

(Bloomberg) — The number of Singapore citizens holding senior roles in the financial sector has increased more than 80% compared to 2016, amid a push in the city-state to build up local leadership in the expanding industry.

More than 3,000 citizens now hold senior positions in the sector, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said in a written response to queries in parliament.

Singapore has been moving to bolster the hiring and grooming of its local workforce, even as ministers stress that the country is open to talent from abroad. The subject of expats, or foreign talent, has sparked fierce debate, with opposition politicians calling for closer scrutiny and the government recently tightening requirements for companies seeking to hire foreigners.

Read More: Expat Bankers Fleeing Hong Kong See No Easy Escape to Singapore

At the end of 2021, about 71% of the financial sector workforce were Singapore citizens, 14% were permanent residents, and 15% were work pass holders, Tharman, who’s also senior minister, said in his response.

For senior roles — referring to executives with more than 15 years of related work experience — about 46% were Singapore citizens, 21% permanent residents and 33% work pass holders, based on MAS’ survey results for 2020.

These proportions have remained stable over the years, with a “gradual increase” in the proportion of Singapore citizens holding senior roles, according to the response. The finance sector is a key one for the city-state, thriving during the pandemic even as other parts of the economy suffered.

The MAS consults with senior management at financial firms on the makeup of their workforces and their plans to grow the “Singaporean core,” its managing director Ravi Menon said in 2020. The regulator has also been working with firms to develop a strong local leadership pipeline, he said.

—With assistance from Michelle Jamrisko.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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