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1 in 3 bank jobs will merge or change in next few years: IBF, MAS report

Hire-and-fire approach no longer the answer; superior strategy is to continually train, upskill and transform existing workforce: Ravi Menon

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Separately, Maybank Singapore has also launched an IBF-certified course as part of a S$10 million digital upskilling programme for its employees.

Singapore

VISIT a bank now and you will most likely be greeted by a bank teller, customer service officer and a relationship manager.

But those roles might soon be taken over by a digital ambassador, who would also be expected to use advanced analytics to predict customers' needs and provide advisory services to customers beyond the scope of basic transactions.

In the next three to five years, a third of job roles in Singapore's finance industry will be merged or changed due to data analytics and automation, the Institute of Banking and Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a report.

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The report covers 121 job roles across front office, mid-office, back office, and enterprise functions in Singapore's financial services industry. They represent over 90 per cent of jobs in the financial sector.

Of those, 40 job roles risk being merged or displaced as they consist of tasks that are prone to automation, the two agencies said in the joint report on Tuesday. Such roles include that of a bancassurance officer in retail and corporate banking, and investment performance analyst in asset management.

But the 294-page report noted that the rise of data analytics and automation may not ultimately result in a shrinking workforce in the financial sector. Tech advancements are also expected to create new roles in areas such as information technology, data and analytics, and compliance and marketing. The report also highlights skills that will be needed to meet future job demands.

To that end, employees need to re-skill to keep up or see their careers "come to a standstill," urged Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in a keynote address at the release of the report on Tuesday.

"We know that there will be job creation and there will be some job disruptions. But...it is the transformation that matters most. Whether it is in new jobs or existing ones, the job requirements will be transformed by technology," Mrs Teo said.

MAS and IBF hope the study will also be used by financial institutions to preemptively re-skill employees whose roles are likely to be impacted more significantly.

In his opening remarks, MAS managing director and IBF chairman Ravi Menon argued that financial institutions' traditional "hire-and-fire strategy" - hiring people with the skills for emerging jobs and firing those in less relevant jobs - will no longer work.

"The combination of deep domain skills, broad lateral skills and the digital skills of the future does not often come in a package," Mr Menon said. "The superior strategy is to continually train, upskill and transform the existing workforce."

On Tuesday, IBF also launched a Technology in Finance Immersion Programme, targeted at professionals keen to start a career in some of the new and emerging roles identified in the study. It will complement existing professional conversion programmes in helping individuals acquire skills that are in demand.

The programme and the release of the study are intended to bolster the financial sector's ongoing workforce transformation efforts, Mrs Teo said.

In 2018, more than 20,000 individuals went through MAS or IBF-supported upskilling programmes, the minister said.

Some 19 financial institutions, including the local banks, have also committed to re-skill close to 4,000 employees and re-deploy them in new or expanded jobs over the next two years.

Separately, Maybank Singapore has also launched an IBF-certified course as part of a S$10 million digital upskilling programme for its employees.