Banks take lead in grooming locals for key jobs

This article is more than 12 months old

Training will ensure industry attracts talent amid changing technology, say analysts

The three Singapore banks are doing well when it comes to training local staff - that is, both citizens and permanent residents (PRs) - to fill management and other key jobs.

Foreign financial institutions are also putting in the hours to upgrade the skills of their staff.

The Government has stated that growing the pool of local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) is important for the industry's future.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Sept 29 that the finance sector is a major contributor to economic growth and job creation.

He said that more than eight in 10 of the PMET positions in the industry are filled by Singaporeans and PRs.

A check with banks here by The Straits Times reflected this strong trend of local hiring.

For instance, 92 per cent of DBS Group's Singapore workforce are Singaporeans and PRs. The figure has been above 90 per cent over the years.

For the past eight to nine years, local executives have made up about 80 per cent at OCBC Bank.

At United Overseas Bank (UOB), on a group level, 95.9 per cent of employees are local, and 70.9 per cent of all employees are PMETs.

In addition to identifying the relevant courses, we have also set aside a budget of around $2 million and will provide up to three paid days of training leave per annum. StanChart Singapore human resources head Charlotte Thng

At Citi Singapore, 77 per cent of its full-time staff are local PMETs.

Mr Jorge Osorio, head of human resources at Citi Singapore, said the number of local PMETs in the group "has remained consistently strong, averaging 80 per cent since 2009".

Standard Chartered Bank's local PMETs and non-Singaporeans are about a 50:50 split. The bank said the ratio has remained fairly stable over the past three years.

When it comes to training, banks, including foreign lenders with operations in Singapore, have made several moves to develop local talent.

For instance, Citi Singapore, with almost 9,000 staff, has implemented a so-called Lead programme since 2009 for high-performing, mid-level employees. It stands for leadership enhancement and accelerated development.

Of 131 Lead members in the 2016 to 2017 programme, 59 per cent were citizens or PRs. In the latest programme with 139 members, the figure has jumped to 73 per cent.

StanChart released what it calls a Skillsfuture@sc initiative last year to upgrade skills and prepare local talent for the future, said StanChart Singapore human resources head Charlotte Thng. It has more than 8,000 employees here.

"In addition to identifying the relevant courses, we have also set aside a budget of around $2 million and will provide up to three paid days of training leave per annum."

StanChart is also grooming Singaporeans for senior leadership roles. In the last two years, it has put 50 Singaporeans identified as future C-suite leaders through its "accelerator" programme.

About 6,000 UOB employees here participated in Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF)-accredited e-learning programmes and 1,500 employees attended IBF-accredited classroom training from 2014 to 2016.

Since 2015, OCBC said, it has "channelled an additional 33 per cent of training funds to upskilling local talent". It expects to invest about the same amount in the coming years.

Analysts say good training will ensure the industry is well-placed to attract and groom talent amid changing technology and regulations.

Ms Joan See, 26, a former air stewardess and outreach assistant at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, joined StanChart in January under the Professional Conversion Programme for PMETs.

She said: "Without prior experience and relevant knowledge, it was hard to make the switch... (but) I am able to understand compliance procedures and learn both from a local... and a global perspective at StanChart."