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Singapore's banking sector HR leaders comment on new guidelines

On 16 March, we shared news of the new advisory on good HR practices for banks in Singapore, released by the tripartite partners. Among the major points, the advisory calls on banks to work towards redeploying and reskilling their workforce, and better managing retrenchments. [full story]

Human Resources has since reached out to key players in Singapore's banking industry to assess the impact of these changes, in this exclusive story.

Leading the charge is Patrick Tay, NTUC assistant secretary-general, and council member for IBFSG - The Institute of Banking & Finance Singapore, who was present at the advisory launch.

Speaking to Human Resources, he affirmed that all the areas covered by the advisory are critical and equally important, which is why these few areas were focused on to build progressive workplace practices in Singapore's banks.

"As many of our banks are global, there will be global practices which are well entrenched and some are already progressive," he added." However, some of the areas outlined in the advisory may not have be addressed or need to be augmented to comply with this advisory."

As such, Tay advises that the banks operating in Singapore therefore need to interface, align and implement this advisory in line with their global practices.

Further, we hear from some of the banking majors operating in Singapore on their first take:

Shmeer Bharoocha, regional talent acquisition and employee relations, ANZ

"I’m pleased to learn that the banking sector is the first sector to take the lead in implementing this advisory," says Bharoocha. "I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that the proposed advisory would equate to a paradigm shift, rather, something that was long overdue and a matter of ‘keeping up with times’," affirming that implementing the advisory should not be a huge challenge.

In his view, the area requiring the most urgent attention would be in assessing the likely impact of technological changes in the workforce. "At this stage, the question for HR practitioners would be to what extent do organisations want to automate rather than to identify which roles to be automated. In the banking industry, the ‘human touch’ will always be required in order for us to operate," he shares.

Bharoocha stresses on ANZ constantly looking at ways to improve hiring practices and to strengthen the local core, and one area where a lot of work has been done is in removing unconscious bias as part of recruitment. "We constantly remind our leaders and hiring managers of the need to look at an individual’s skills set and soft skills instead of the years of experience," he says.

Further aligning with the advisory, he shares: "We have gone as far as to remove any reference to years of experience in our job advertisements to ensure no one misses out on any opportunity. This is also done to remove any elements of discrimination in our job advertisements."

Jorge Osorio, head of human resources, Citi Singapore

As a HCPartner, Citi is committed to adopting the tripartite advisory, as one of the largest banking employers in Singapore. "We believe that it is important for our talent to be prepared and acquire skill sets that are future-ready and we work closely with our business heads to discuss evolving business needs and collectively identify areas of development to bridge the skills gap," says Osorio.

He points out that all employees are encouraged to take an active role in managing their career, citing various initiatives. "These include the launch of My Career and more recently, ‘Fast and Curious’, for our consumer banking employees to inculcate an inquisitive learning culture by encouraging them to step out of their daily routine to embrace curiosity and developing the skills to adapt, learn and innovate."

Citi was also the first bank in Singapore to announce the launch of core consumer banking skills training accredited by the IBF, whereby 1,600 employees, from frontline to operational and managerial, can look forward to future compatible skills-based training.

Wong Keng Fye, head of human capital, Maybank Singapore

Maybank Singapore has also taken a proactive approach to train up a future-ready workforce and keep employees’ skill sets relevant in the digital age. Wong explains: "More than 160 employees from front, middle and back office have attended the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme, and our employees have embarked on the Future Enabled Skills training programmes accredited by the IBF."

He adds the focus is strong on striving to nurture an age-diverse workforce. "We hire employees based on the right job fit in terms of their functional and technical competencies, and their organisational fit in terms of their alignment with the bank’s core values."

Photo / 123RF

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