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Singapore regulator teams with education bodies in bid to boost fintech skills

Out-Law News | 05 Oct 2016 | 12:24 pm | 2 min. read

Singapore's financial regulator will help to shape courses at five of the city state's polytechnics in an effort to encourage the skills necessary for the financial technology (fintech) sector in the country to flourish, it has announced.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the education bodies, MAS will also facilitate internships for some students at fintech start-ups, financial institutions and regulators.

MAS said it would the tie-up would also help students work on joint projects with companies in the fintech community in Singapore. The projects will enable the students to "apply their technical skills" in areas such as software and mobile app development, data analytics and cybersecurity, it said.

The initiative will support more than 2,500 students a year who are enrolled in banking and IT-related courses at Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic or Temasek Polytechnic.

In a recent speech, Singapore's minister for national development and second minister for finance Lawrence Wong said that the country is aiming to "build the financial centre of tomorrow". Developing "deeper skills and expertise" will be the "key enabler" of that vision, he said.

"MAS and various financial industry players will advise the polytechnics on areas of job demand, and work closely with them on curriculum reviews," Wong said. "We will facilitate internships with start-ups, incubators, accelerators, and financial institutions. Polytechnic students can also look forward to real-world project work to hone their software development skills."

Wong also described an initiative to help financial professionals in Singapore to participate in professional conversion programmes (PCPs) – on-the-job training to enable them to "take on new or expanded job roles" and "move into key areas of demand in the financial sector".

Wong said: "One area of demand now is in compliance. There is a huge demand for experienced compliance professionals in the industry, in line with tighter regulatory standards and reforms. But in Singapore, there is a limited pool of experienced compliance professionals, although we do have a potential pool of professionals with relevant financial, legal or accounting skills. They may not all be specifically trained in compliance but there are accountants, there are lawyers, there are people who could potentially move into this area. The PCP in compliance will allow these individuals to be placed and trained within the financial institution."

The Institute of Banking and Finance in Singapore also plans to develop new "learning modules" on issues including digital communications, cyber risk and governance to "underpin a more digitalised financial sector", Wong said. He said MAS will also offer more financial support to people engaged in "continuous and lifelong learning" to help build skills capabilities.

Wong said: "We all know that the financial sector is moving very quickly, is undergoing profound changes, and is at the cross road. When we meet ten years from now, the nature of finance in Singapore, and the work many of you do, will be quite different. That may be unsettling, but that is the reality. If the work is still the same, we should not take comfort and should be worried as well, because it would mean that changes are happening elsewhere and we are at risk of becoming irrelevant. We have to accept and recognise that change is happening. We have to embrace the change and we have to take full advantage of it."

Payments laws and venture capital regulations in Singapore are set for reform as the country aims to enhance its image as a fintech hub. In June, MAS proposed a 'regulatory sandbox' that aims to allow financial services firms, technology companies and other "non-financial players" in Singapore to test new financial technology products and services in an environment where some regulatory requirements are relaxed.

Earlier this year MAS also cleared financial firms to adopt cloud services in another sign of the country's willingness to support the use of new technologies in financial services.