May 26, 2017

Authors Posts by Wan Ting Koh

Wan Ting Koh

Wan Ting Koh
As field correspondent, Wan Ting likes chasing leads. When she's not doing that, the former Lit Major enjoys watching horror films and filling her awfully chocolate quota in her free time. You can reach her at

Photo By Shawn Danker.
Maybank tower.

by Wan Ting Koh

A VETERAN banker has come out to comment on the lack of local talent in senior positions of Singapore’s banking sector. UBS Singapore Country Head Edmund Koh, 55, said that although the Government should push to hire locals in the highly competitive sector, Singaporeans should also prove themselves worthy to take up those positions.

“Let’s not get too carried away about not hiring foreigners. I’m a Singaporean, and you’ve got to earn it,” he said in the papers yesterday.

Mr Koh’s comments come on the back of hiking worries over the rising proportion of foreigners taking over executive management positions in the banking industry that, some feel, should be held by Singaporeans.

It is a concern that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam echoed two years ago in a 2013 dialogue with the Singapore Indian Development Association, where he said that Singaporeans need to be adequately represented in the banking sector. Then, Mr Tharman had said that though some banks had a mixture of locals and foreigners occupying a range of roles, Singaporeans in other banks retained predominantly middle and backend roles.

Since then, measures have been implemented to ensure a more balanced foreigner vs local demographic in the hiring process – not just in the banking sector, but across all industries. The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) was minted in 2014, enforcing an open attitude towards local applicants in job opportunities. Under the FCF, companies must first advertise their job vacancies on Jobs Bank, a Workforce Development Agency-run website, for at least 14 days before applying for an Employment Pass for foreign candidates. At least at entry-level positions, locals appear to be given priority representation.

According to figures obtained by The Straits Times, the “financial sector makes up about 12 per cent of Singapore’s economic output, with more than 1,000 financial institutions and about 190,000 employees, of whom about 70 per cent are Singaporeans.” Here are some figures from three banks who spoke to ST.

BanksCitibankABNStandard Chartered
Percentage of foreigners in senior management postsAbout 70% of its Asean management committeeAbout 40% About 80%


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