Singapore: Jobs in financial sector last year lowest since 2009, says MAS MD

Menon said that digitisation and automation are gathering pace and many global financial institutions have been downsizing and restructuring their operations.

Picture for representation
Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), speaks at the Singapore Fintech Festival in Singapore Reuters

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Managing Director, Ravi Menon, urged the financial sector yesterday to create good jobs for the Singapore workforce.

In 2016, there was a net increase of 2,800 financial sector jobs despite the slowdown in financial sector growth to 0.7% from 5.3% in 2015. This is the lowest net job creation for the sector since the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 when there were only 2,200 jobs created.

"Of course, this net figure masks much larger gross employment flows – of jobs created as well as jobs displaced," Menon said in a media briefing for the release of MAS annual report.

He mentioned that digitisation and automation are gathering pace and many global financial institutions have been downsizing and restructuring their operations.

And whilst the Singapore operations of these banks have retrenched some staff in operations, IT and technical support, the scale of cuts have been much smaller than in other markets.

Meanwhile, most retrenched finance professionals have been able to find alternative employment, sometimes within the financial industry, sometimes in other industries like ICT.

"But a small number face difficulties finding jobs again, and this is something we are concerned about and working on actively," he said.

For those who have been laid off, Menon noted that there are efforts to facilitate their redeployment.

For instance, the Financial Industry Career Advisory Centre (FiCAC) was launched last year to provide guidance to those keen to join the financial sector or those looking to move to new jobs within the industry.

FiCAC was launched by tripartite collaboration among NTUC, the financial industry, and MAS and other government agencies.

"MAS and our partner stakeholders are working to strengthen FiCAC in two areas. First, providing fuller advisory services drawing on a network of professionals, community leaders, and partners as career coaches and industry mentors; Second, enhancing job-matching capabilities through the use of digital platforms, such as virtual career fairs," Menon explained.

He furthered, "It is important to intervene upstream in the process well before retrenchments take place. MAS is working with financial institutions to identify early on jobs that might be at risk in the future. We then work with these financial institutions to proactively up-skill these workers through professional conversion programmes."

On the positive side, Menon said there is a good demand for professionals in several areas of finance, which include compliance, risk management, insurance underwriting, and asset and wealth management.

"Within the technology area, there continues to be strong demand for expertise in cyber security, data analytics, network architecture, artificial intelligence, and machine learning," he noted.