Singapore looks to prep financial workforce for data analytics, automation era

Country's government agencies identify 121 job roles in banking, asset management, and insurance that they believe will be necessary in future when the financial sector sees increased adoption of data analytics and automation.

Singapore has identified 121 job roles it believes will account for the majority of future skillsets needed in the financial sector when data analytics and automation become pervasive. Employees then will need to assume new or expanded tasks that require a higher level of judgement and creativity, while tasks that are repetitive and rules-based will be automated. 

These jobs were projected for the financial services industry across key sectors that included banking, capital markets, asset management, and insurance, and were part of a study released by the Ministry of Manpower. Conducted by Ernst & Young, the report was commissioned by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to assess how data analytics and automation would likely transform the local financial sector over the next three to five years. 

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In conjunction with the release, the IBF and Workforce Singapore (WSG) also introduced a programme that encompassed structured training and attachment schemes with financial institutions to help professionals start a career in technology. 

The initiative was designed to support existing professional conversion programmes to enable individuals to acquire skillsets that were in demand and aimed at helping workers keen to begin a career in the new roles identified in the study.

The new scheme would offer training and attachment options in cloud computing, cybersecurity, data analytics, and development across the technology stack. More than 70 positions in seven participating financial institutions were available for application, including DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, Singapore Exchange, and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. 

According to the study, half of the 121 job roles identified would be expanded as employees leveraged these technologies to optimise their performance, while one-third would be transformed as technology moved to replace a "significant portion" of job tasks. 

"Of the 121 job roles, 40 job roles have been identified as being highly impacted--with the potential for convergence or displacement--as the range of job tasks performed by these roles are prone to automation," the study noted. These included credit and loan officers, customer service and call centre agents, and branch tellers in the retail and corporate banking sector, as well as policy servicing officers and retail underwriters in the insurance sector. 

But while machines powered by artificial intelligence could outperform humans in many tasks, human expertise would remain essential, according to the report. It pointed to humans' ability to deliver creative and innovative solutions, for example, which could not be replicated by machines. And in spite of automation, it added that there still would be need for human oversight, results interpretation, and exception processing. 

In addition, apart from data analytics and automation, Singapore's financial industry also would be impacted by other factors such as regulatory requirements amidst the emergence of new technologies, legacy systems, and evolving customer preferences and trust. 

"Financial institutions have to manage complex regulatory requirements in a variety of ways, including understanding how new and emerging technologies will be regulated when the impact is currently unknown," the report stated. "This is proving to be a balancing act for financial institutions, as well as an example of encouraging innovation while maintaining organisational and personal security of data. Complexities exist in regulating the various parties involved in many of these processes."

Amongst the job roles identified also were new positions that were expected to be in demand alongside the adoption of data analytics and automation in the financial sector. These included citizen data scientist, robotics process designer, and cloud and embedded security specialists. 

IBF CEO Ng Nam Sin said: "Business transformation alone is not enough.  We also need workforce transformation. This study will help us uplift our workforce, harness the power of data analytics and automation, and make Singapore's financial centre more competitive."

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(Source: EY Singapore)
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(Source: EY Singapore)

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