After 30 of the 47 firms placed on a government watchlist for suspected discriminatory hiring practices were found to be from the financial and professional services sectors, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) told the financial institutions here that they must commit to growing the local talent pool (‘MAS urges financial institutions to grow Singaporean talent pool‘).

“We have to remain open and will continue to welcome global talent that complement our workforce. Employers must, however, hire in a responsible manner and commit to growing the local talent pool,” MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh said yesterday (12 Aug).

The 30 errant financial and professional service firms are said to have a “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities”. In one financial institution in the fund management industry, almost three-quarters of their PMETs are of the same nationality and in another bank, almost two-thirds of the PMETs are also of the same nationality, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) revealed.

Ms Loh noted that attracting firms to set up their regional or global headquarters here means they will bring a diversity of talent from their global workforce, which may affect the proportion of Singaporeans on the staff.

“However, anchoring more global and regional functions here also brings along more growth, good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans,” she said.

“Building a strong pipeline of local talent is key to supporting and sustaining a financial institution’s long-term build-out in Singapore.”

MAS urged companies to ensure their hiring practices comply with MOM’s Fair Consideration Framework.

Tharman urged banks to build up Singaporean core in 2013

This is not the first time MAS has been talking about building a “Singaporean core” in the financial industry.

As far back as 2013, then DPM and MAS Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam told the media that it is important Singaporeans take on a good spread of positions, including the best jobs in the front office for treasury and trading, in the financial industry (‘Crucial that Singaporean core can land top banking jobs’: Tharman).

He revealed at the time that MAS together with MOM had started “very active discussions” with banks in Singapore about their plans to develop a “Singaporean core”.

He said the Singaporean core in banking is “not just about numbers”.

“It’s about proactive career development, and making sure that Singaporeans are represented in the areas of the banks which are going to see growth opportunities,” he said. “It’s making sure there is a good spread of opportunities for Singaporeans within the different banking functions.”

Revealing to reporters for the first time then, he said the government had already noticed in the different “hiring mixes” among the banks in Singapore. That was in 2013.

In fact, prior to 2013, complaints and concerns about high numbers of foreigners in the financial sector have already been raised by Singaporeans. The high numbers were gradually built-up since Singapore signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India in 2005.

In any case, 7 years after 2013, Singaporeans continue to share the same concerns and MAS continues to talk about developing a “Singaporean core” in the financial industry after a bank was found to have almost three-quarters of their PMETs recruited from the “same nationality”. MOM did not reveal details of the nationality.


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