Updated transformation roadmap to create up to 4,000 jobs a year in financial services sector
The Financial Services Industry Transformation Map 2025, as it is called, also aims to grow the sector by an average 4 to 5 per cent per annum between 2021 and 2025.
SINGAPORE: A refreshed roadmap to transform the financial services industry will aim to create 3,000 to 4,000 net jobs annually and achieve growth of between 4 to 5 per cent on average each year.
The industry transformation map (ITM) with new targets and strategies for the industry between 2021 to 2025 was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Sep 15).
The financial services ITM was first launched in 2017 as one of the 23 sectoral blueprints to drive transformation efforts. At that time, the annual targets were to achieve average real value-added growth of 4.3 per cent in the financial sector, while creating 3,000 net jobs.
The ITM has surpassed targets on both fronts - the sector grew by an average of 5.7 per cent per annum from 2016 to 2020, alongside the creation of an average of 4,100 net jobs each year.
But while the sector has done well, more challenges have emerged in an increasingly complex external environment, said Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister and deputy chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
The world, still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, is now entering a phase of elevated macroeconomic and geopolitical risks. The financial services sector will have to cope with disruption from structural drivers like technology and digitalisation, and “must also step up and take bold steps” to catalyse the net-zero transition.
“And amidst all this, Asia remains a region with high growth potential in the global economy and we should contribute to its growth,” Mr Wong said.
“So we are updating the ITM - look at ways to seize new opportunities while staying resilient against emerging risks, and we will update our plans, strategies and targets for the next five years.”
“RELENTLESS” IN UPSKILLING LOCAL WORKFORCE
One key strategy is to develop a skilled and adaptable workforce, with S$400 million in grant funding set to go towards a talent development and leadership programme over the five-year period up to 2025.
This funding, to be provided by the MAS-administered Financial Sector Development Fund, will help to facilitate training support for finance professionals at different stages of their careers, develop specialist talent in areas such as sustainability, as well as help those in leadership roles to succeed through international exposure and networks.
Mr Wong said Singapore will need the best talent, from both locally and globally, to be the leading international financial centre in Asia.
“We know that we cannot build a regional and global financial centre with our local financial manpower alone and that’s why we continue to attract and retain top talent from abroad to form the best teams in Singapore,” he said, citing recent changes to the work pass framework, including the new Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass.
Singapore also invests heavily in human capital here as part of its “two-pronged” talent strategy.
“We will be relentless in upskilling our people, developing expertise and creating more opportunities for Singaporeans,” he added.
GREEN FINANCE, CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS, DIGITAL ASSETS
Catalysing the region’s net-zero transition is another key focus and MAS said it is working with the industry to develop innovative solutions to scale up sustainable and transition financing.
It will, for instance, enhance sustainability disclosures and build data utilities to facilitate sustainability disclosures by companies and help investors access these data. Efforts on this front include the recent launch of an online reporting portal called ESGenome as part of its Project Greenprint.
The MAS has also said it will provide S$100 million in grant funding over the five years to promote areas such as capability building and green financial technology (fintech).
Mr Wong said Singapore can aim to be Asia’s centre for sustainability solutions, as the region makes its move to net zero.
“Because the transition to net zero involves countries having to undergo major transformations, across their economies, society, and infrastructure … so we can expect growing market demand for new sustainable finance products and services,” he explained.
“Financial institutions can gear up to meet this demand and catalyse action in key targeted areas, for example in energy and fuels, transportation, construction, and the built environment sector.”
Singapore will also scale up "blended finance", especially where there is "a need to crowd in more private capital into key projects" such as nature-based solutions in emerging markets, he added.
“MAS is working with multilateral development banks, blended finance networks and philanthropic organisations to explore solutions where concessionary or catalytic capital can help to reduce the risk for private sector players, and make projects more bankable.”
Other strategies under the new ITM include deepening capabilities in various asset classes, such as wealth management, insurance and fintech, in which Singapore plays a key regional or global role.
For instance, there is “tremendous potential” to develop Singapore into a philanthropy centre in Asia, given a growing interest among high-net-worth individuals and family offices to do more.
“We will work with them to set up philanthropic foundations here, identify deserving causes in the region, and enable them to better track the impact of their giving,” said Mr Wong, noting that this can add to the country’s role as a “dynamic and purposeful” financial centre.
Authorities will also look to promote the development of digital infrastructure and platforms in areas like bond markets and funds settlement, while seeking to enhance payments connectivity with the region and build an “innovative and responsible” digital asset ecosystem.
On the latter, key elements involve exploring the potential of distributed ledger technology in promising use cases, supporting tokenisation of financial and real economy assets and enabling digital currency connectivity.
At the same time, Mr Wong said MAS will “evolve its regulatory approach” to safeguard against potential risks from digital asset activities, such as money laundering risks, safeguarding against harm to retail investors and mitigating potential financial stability risks.
“In short, we aim to develop Singapore as a centre for innovative and responsible digital asset activities that enhances efficiency and creates economic value, and we will do this with a developmental strategy and regulatory approach that takes a holistic and synergistic view towards developing the entire digital asset ecosystem,” he said.