In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, many financial centres are doing all they can to create some clear water between themselves and their closest competitors – and Singapore is no exception.
That’s why the Monetary Authority Singapore has been hard at work drawing up a plan that aims to bring it even closer to, or perhaps overcome, its main rival in Asia – Hong Kong. For a long time, Singapore has been the number two overall player in the region and now there’s a real confidence that improvements can and will be made.
The aims are undoubtedly ambitious with the hope that there can be an annual 4.3% value-added growth coupled with a 2.4% increase in productivity over the same period. However, with a growing middle class and a relatively strong economy confidence is high that these are targets that are more than achievable.
There are two key strands that will lie behind the programme – technology and enhancing the workforce.
In terms of tech, this has a key role to play in terms of fighting off competition from online financial services providers. For example, although Singapore is the third largest forex trading centre globally, it has to confront the fact that online trading sites which offer simple and convenient platforms like MT4 are a more convenient way for many people to trade.
With speed and convenience such important elements to be considered, the MAS is launching a major push to encourage greater connectivity between financial institutions through the use of Application Programming Interfaces.
The inexorable rise of cryptocurrencies, backed by blockchain technology, is also having an indirect effect on the way that Singapore hopes to bring about a tech transformation. This is because there is great confidence that, by using the distributed ledger technology that underlies the blockchain, trading will be made both faster and more secure. The MAS also recently announced that they have created links with their equivalent body in Hong Kong to collaborate on this as well as other fintech projects.
Another area that is essential but which can hinder financial services companies’ ability to be as agile as they might be is compliance. So great efforts will also be put into delivering tech solutions for all that will speed up and simplify the processes without compromising them in any way.
Building the workforce of tomorrow
In order to ensure that there is the workforce available to service this expected growth in the sector, the MAS plan also relies on the immediate creation of 3,000 extra jobs in the services sector with an additional 1000 in FinTech. With an eye to building a strong succession, there is also the aim to promote overseas postings and high-level training programmes to develop the finance leaders of tomorrow.
So, while these may seem like very ambitious and wide-ranging plans, there is a genuine commitment to making them happen. And, given the Singaporean work ethic and focus on achievement, there’s every reason to suggest that they will.