Retired Singaporean banker Raymond Koh Bock Swi wrote to ST Forum urging the government to examine the workforce composition in banks operating in Singapore. His letter was published in ST today (‘Forum: Workforce composition in banks needs to be examined‘, 15 Aug).

He wrote to ST Forum in the midst of a public uproar over a recent finding by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) that 30 of the 47 companies put on watchlist for suspected discriminatory hiring practices, came from the financial and professional services sectors. The 30 were found to have a “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities” (‘SG banker: My trading floor full of staff from “a particular Asian country” with family members too‘).

In one financial institution, 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, MOM revealed. It’s not known why MOM decided to issue so many work passes to these foreigners of the same nationality working in those banks in the first place.

Retired banker: Misleading to combine the Singaporeans and PRs

Retired banker Mr Koh wrote, “As a retired senior banker, I can say categorically that in the past two decades, many foreigners hired in Singapore’s finance sector have been for upper-middle to senior management positions.”

“Once hired, these foreign staff can easily and in a short time secure their permanent resident (PR) status in Singapore. Therefore, when analysing the actual makeup of local staff, it is misleading to combine the Singaporeans and PRs.”

Mr Koh was refuting what the banks told the media recently that they do maintain a strong local core in their workforce (‘Banks say large majority of their employees are “locals”‘).

Mr Koh went on to make several proposals in his letter:

  • Banks should provide the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Manpower Ministry with their workforce composition, detailing local hires (Singapore citizens only) versus others (foreign hires and PRs).
  • The percentage of Singaporeans making up the “senior” staff should also be provided.
  • A minimum percentage of hired locals against the total workforce should be considered, like 90 per cent for Singapore banks and 85 per cent for non-Singapore banks.
  • Certain key positions, like human resource head, operations head and compliance roles, should be held only by locals (unless exceptionally justified). Where foreign expertise is needed, there should be clear transition plans to train Singaporeans to assume the said responsibilities in the coming years.
  • Any exception to the workforce composition should require special approval from the regulatory or government authorities.

“The financial sector is an important one for Singapore but we need to constantly train, upgrade and protect these jobs for Singaporeans, while concurrently welcoming foreign investments,” he said.

“It has been common market knowledge that certain big, long established foreign banks have been sidelining Singaporean talent in favour of foreign hires, and I strongly urge the authorities to more closely scrutinise the situation in our finance industry.”

Mr Koh is a retired Singaporean banker with many years of experience in the banking industry. According to the information in Reuters, Mr Koh began his career as a consumer lending officer at OCBC. He also worked in Bank of Montreal and Bank of America. He was the Assistant General Manager & Head of Corporate Banking in Rabobank Nederland. His last position before his retirement was Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Credit Committee in Arab Bank.

Mr Koh himself is a living proof that Singapore does have its own talents and that Singaporean talents are more than capable to hold senior positions in banks.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

If the upcoming election is so important to “chart the course Singapore will take”, why has a date not yet been set?

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has emphasised the importance of the…

Singaporean film-maker hypothesises how China can easily take over Singapore by 2050

Renowned local film-maker Martyn See took to his Facebook on Sunday (21…

【国会】蔡庆威倡议立法规范裁员福利 杨莉明称帮忙找工作更实际

盛港集选区议员蔡庆威今日(6日)在国会中质询,是否能立法规范裁员福利的基准,但人力部长杨莉明认为,协助被裁雇员找到新的工作,更为实际。 杨莉明就立法规范裁员福利基准一事回应,表示经过劳资政三方的商榷后,设立该基准,也不一定能为被裁工友带来更好的结果。 设立高标准的裁员福利,无疑对企业与剩余员工造成更大的负担。且可能一些雇主也不愿承担。 “设立高标准的裁员福利福利,会压低了原本已存在的财政困难的企业,同时也危及了剩余员工的福利。” 此外,杨莉明认为,如若设立裁员福利基准,雇主将可能不愿意提供长期或正式的工作机会,转而聘雇短期员工。 “因此,在承认裁员福利的用处,鼓励他们按照现行准则支付的同时,我们更注重帮助被裁员工重返劳动市场。” 与此同时,杨莉明表示,政府也会提供各项津贴补助,支援企业进行技能升级和薪资支援,以及新员工将会接受转换计划。 针对中年求职者的需求,杨莉明也强调,支持本地劳工成为首要任务,因此也提出许多相关计划如招聘奖励计划(Jobs Growth Incentive)、新心相连”中途转业人士见习计划(SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways…

Prices of HDB flats – press censorship?

See Leong Kit’s letter questioning HDB’s pricing formula rejected by Today.