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Banks in Singapore will have to find the balance between hiring locals and foreigners as they try to manage expectations and cost.

Financial institutions have been under a lot of pressure to hire locals as the country continues to develop into a wealth management hub in the region.

Reuters reported Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin and Deputy Prime Minister and finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, have engaged several finance institutions here in conversation about creating a more robust local talent pipeline.

The finance sector currently accounts for about 12% of the country’s GDP and employs 6% of the workforce, and therefore it is critical regulations around employment are clear so as not to create confusion.

“What we do need is to ensure companies are fair in assessing all potential candidates and to deter and punish any form of discriminatory or biased decision-making on the part of individuals,” Tan said.

However, some are still concerned roles within the sector are being offered to foreign talent instead of locals. According to MOM, new employment passes for the financial sector rose from 3,300 in 2001 to 8,700 in 2010.

“Even the junior professional positions are often staffed by foreigners, when our local graduates should have no problem meeting the job requirements,” Gerald Giam, a member of parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party, said.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices said half of the complaints received last year surrounding bias against Singaporeans.

“When it is not possible to hire locally or a niche skill set is required, the process of hiring a foreign executive should be straightforward and transparent,” Mark Hall, vice president and country manager for Kelly Services Singapore, said.

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