Demand for tech talent in financial sector far outpaces local supply: Tan See Leng

SINGAPORE – More than 4,000 financial sector professionals have acquired new skills to move into new or expanded roles since 2017.

Of these, more than 40 per cent of them are mature local workers, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Thursday (Dec 16).

This is thanks to initiatives such as Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme and other reskilling efforts by financial institutions.

Dr Tan was speaking to a hybrid audience at IBF Distinction Evening 2021, where the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) presented awards to four financial institutions and 32 people.

The financial sector is one of the strongest and most highly competitive sectors of the economy, posting growth of 5.1 per cent last year, he said.

In the first three quarters of this year, the sector grew by about 8 per cent. Over the same period, financial services created 2,000 net jobs, all of which went to locals, he noted.

New trends in financial services, such as the rise of the digital economy and sustainability, will create demand for new skills, he noted.

Financial services are now embedded in non-financial platforms – the Grab app being one example where users not only book rides and order food but also access investment funds.

“Financial institutions are also becoming digital ecosystem players, offering customers non-financial services through their platforms,” Dr Tan said.

Many retail banks have platforms that offer travel-themed credit cards and insurance alongside air ticket and hotel bookings, for instance.

“The rise of the digital economy will drive up the demand for tech jobs – among others, we will need data analysts, software developers, infrastructure architects and cyber security engineers.”

He added: “Demand for tech talent far outpaces our local supply.

“Against this backdrop, IBF has played a key role in coordinating industry efforts to train mid-career professionals from outside tech or finance, to be ready for careers in (these areas).”

The greater emphasis on sustainability will also change the skills that financial institutions need and the roles they hire for, Dr Tan said.

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“Financial institutions have an important role to play to finance and support businesses transiting to adopting environmentally sustainable practices.

“They will need to ramp up capabilities to carry out different aspects of green finance. This includes building and deepening capabilities in environmental risk management, climate-related disclosures, as well as the design and customisation of green finance instruments and solutions.”

This means that those working in the industry need to be ready to seize these new opportunities, he said.

They will need to build deep domain knowledge while also acquiring key horizontal skills that will give them broader perspectives and enable them to take on a wider range of work.

Early next year, IBF and the Monetary Authority of Singapore will launch a skills map for sustainable finance, to help build capabilities in this area for the finance sector, he added.

Demand for private equity and venture capital will continue to grow, Dr Tan said, adding that there are over 370 of such firms here.

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Economic transformation will be fuelled by smart capital – from investors that provide not just capital but also work closely with firms to accelerate growth by providing access to connections, expertise and technology.

He noted that a number of investment firms have partnered local universities to offer internships to groom Singaporean talent in the area.

IBF chief executive Ng Nam Sin said: “We need to build a stronger pipeline of talents for the financial sector, particularly in technology and in growth areas like green financing.

“Of equal importance, individuals must be encouraged to prioritise training and take ownership of their own skills development.”

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