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Five skills that will supercharge your banking career in Singapore

As you may have read on this site last week, the Singapore government has launched a huge new set of guidelines (and an accompanying interactive website) to help finance professionals advance their careers and avoid their jobs being automated.

The new Skills Framework for Financial Services provides detailed information on the skills needed to succeed in 157 job sectors, maps out typical pathways to promotion in these roles, and suggests potential sideways moves between different functions that demand similar expertise.

But there are some skills within the Singapore finance sector – five to be precise – that are apparently much more sought after that any others: cybersecurity, data collection and analysis, digital literacy, risk management, and user experience design. The new framework (which is the brainchild of the Institute of Banking and Finance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore, and Workforce Singapore) emphasises that people “seeking successful careers in financial services can set themselves apart by acquiring these skills”.

Whether or not you can acquire all five may depend on what job sector you work in. It’s probably not necessary for front-office bankers to become experts in cyber security, but they may want to brush up on their risk knowledge and improve their digital literacy, for example. In contrast, if you work in digital banking, many of the skills below are likely to apply to your role.

Therein lies the rub: as the Singapore banking sector “continues to transform” (to use the framework’s language), data and digital-focused skills are becoming more in demand, while those focused on deal-making and market-making seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Another government-backed report, published in April, highlighted trading and corporate banking jobs as being at high risk of being displaced by technology.

Here’s what the framework says about each of its five hot ‘skills’ (most of which are also stand-alone job functions in themselves).


This requires you (in the words of the new framework) to, “understand, develop and apply cybersecurity policies and procedures to ensure protection against cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities, and to respond to cybersecurity breaches”. Cybersecurity is now firmly established as a job function as well as a ‘skill’ and if you work within it, you should take heart in its appearance on this government-backed list. Competition for candidates has helped to increase salaries, and (as we reported last month) cyber security staff will be among the first to be hired when Singapore’s first batch of virtual banking licences are granted next year.

Data collection and analysis

Singapore’s new framework defines this as the ability to “extract, analyse and make sense of information to form a holistic perspective and generate insights”. While elements of data analysis are required in many banking jobs, demand for actual data analysts is booming in Singapore, and banks are competing with each other and with tech firms to hire these professionals. Data analysts interface with the business to find out what’s required of the data and develop visualisations that allow the business to easily interpret what the data says.

Digital literacy

This means you can “use IT tools, equipment and software to create, evaluate and share information digitally”. It’s a rather obvious inclusion on the Skills Framework list and is also a pure skill rather than a job itself. Digital literacy is no longer the preserve of people in technology and digital banking jobs – it’s also gaining a foothold in the front office. Private bankers in Singapore are increasingly interacting with clients using in-house digital investment platforms, while traders are learning Python.

Risk management

Risk management, according to the Singapore government’s new guidelines, is about your ability to “identify, evaluate and manage risks by developing and implementing risk management strategies, frameworks, policies, procedures and practices”. While bankers and traders must adhere to their firm’s risk policies when making deals and managing clients, the above description (developing and implementing) appears to be referring to the actual job function of risk management (e.g. credit, market and operational risk). If you’re a student or recent graduate looking for a stable (non-technology) career in banking, the inclusion of risk on this list might make the function more appealing. Interestingly, compliance – another middle-office job that has been similarly in demand since the 2008 financial crisis – doesn’t make the cut.

User experience design

If you possess this skill you will be able to “conceptualise, project and implement strategies” to enhance users’ “interaction and engagement with the products and/or services”. Again, UX design is something that people do as their whole job – and the Skills Framework is correct to single it out for attention. Banks such as DBS, OCBC, UOB, Citi and Standard Chartered are increasingly hiring UX designers to work on their apps, websites, in-house systems and other digital products. This trend will gather pace in 2020 and 2021 with the approval and launch of virtual banks in the Republic, recruiters told us last month.

Image credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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