Chatbot Coach, UX/UI Designer Robotics Process Designer, Cloud Specialist, Machine Learning Architect.

These may sound like Information Technology (IT) jobs, but they are actually roles that exist in the financial services sector.

In the past few years, financial institutions have digital upskilling a key priority. Just ask the Talent Acquisition Head at DBS Bank, Ms Susan Cheong.

“With COVID-19 accelerating digital disruption and changing the way we live, we are ramping up our upskilling efforts to stay ahead of these massive changes,” she says. From this year, DBS has identified over 7,200 employees to be upskilled or reskilled, in emerging areas such as design thinking, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Head of Group Human Resources at UOB, Mr Dean Tong, says that technology is core to the Bank’s innovation and transformation drive. “By deepening digital knowledge and skills, we ensure that our workforce is ever ready to harness the future of technology,” he says.

This push towards digitalisation has opened up opportunities in financial services for many Singaporeans, such as 33-year-old Muhammad Helmy Bin Razali. Having previously been in the security sector for 10 years, he made the switch to the Financial Services sector, and is currently a Cyber Threat Monitoring Specialist at Deutsche Bank.

“Speaking to computers”

To pursue his goal of having a career in tech, Helmy decided to move into cybersecurity through the Technology in Finance Immersion Programme (TFIP) in October 2019.

Covering cybersecurity as well as banking and finance during the four-month course proved to be a challenging experience – in more ways than one.

“There were frequent tests during the course. Having to take in all that knowledge and present my understanding on the topics was quite a hurdle,” Helmy recalls. Fortunately, he wasn’t alone. “Fellow trainees in TFIP were an awesome bunch, and we pulled through the course together.”

Upon completing the course, Helmy began his on-the-job training at Deutsche Bank. Helmy was first tasked with developing his “cyber instincts.” 

I was given the opportunity to see frontline cybersecurity action, make sense of events to determine if they are risks. These experiences allowed me to develop cyber instincts.
Muhammad Helmy Bin Razali, on his training stint at Deutsche Bank

Having excelled during his training, Helmy was subsequently hired on a full-time basis as a Cyber Threat Monitoring Specialist in November 2020.

When asked what the biggest change has been since moving to Deutsche Bank, Helmy remarks that the way he communicates at work now is completely different. In his previous job, Helmy had face-to-face interactions with staff, security officers and visitors within the airport and hospital.

Instead of interacting with visitors and managing physical security, I find myself speaking to computers - monitoring and analysing online threats to help Deutsche Bank to ensure a safe and secure cyber environment for its users.
Helmy, on how his job has changed since moving sectors

Launched in 2019, the TFIP aims to help mid-career individuals start a tech career in the Financial Services sector. Jointly developed by The Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), in consultation with Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), successful applicants will undergo structured training and attachment with participating financial institutions.

Specialist tracks are doubled this year, including UX Design, Digital Marketing, Software Engineering, Business Analysis, Technology Product Management and Agile IT Project Management.

Applications for the TFIP 2021 intake will be opened soon and interested applicants can find out more here

From NS hobby to full time career

Another individual who made full use of his traineeship opportunity is Ivan Goh, a Technology Analyst at the UOB. The 24 year-old is currently in the midst of his 12-month SGUnited traineeship and will be converted to a full time position in July this year.

Ivan’s interest in tech took off during his time undergoing National Service (NS).

“During NS, I became quite interested in coding. During free time in-between training, I would read more on different coding languages,” he recalls.

Putting his coding skills to the test, the graduate from NTU’s Business Administration progressed to creating a website for Singapore’s first “ground up” hackathon - Innovation Fest in 2018, organised by Leng Kee Community Club.  Participants at the hackathon developed business plans and prototypes to address social issues faced by the elderly, persons with disabilities and families in crisis.

Buoyed by his technical experience at Innovation Fest, Ivan began considering how he could turn his hobby in coding into a career. Following graduation, he began looking for roles that could combine his twin interests in finance and programming, which led him to take up a SGUnited Traineeship as a Technology Analyst in UOB’s Group Technology and Operations team.

I was curious to learn how technology can make financial services more progressive.
Ivan Goh, on why he applied to join UOB as Technology Analyst

In the 11 months since he began his traineeship with UOB in July 2020, Ivan’s experiences have broadened his horizons on how technologies are implemented in a bank. "Being able to work for a bank with a regional focus, I was eager to learn what goes behind the scenes of adopting and implementing technology to transform the banking experience for customers.

Through on-the-job training at UOB, I gained first-hand experience and knowledge in analysing payments systems and ways in which we can tap technology to enhance these systems at scale without compromising on risks," he says.

A teacher and learner

Another UOB employee who has witnessed the industry’s digital transformation is 51-year-old Sharon Tan, Senior Vice President, Group Finance and Corporate Services.

In her 20-year career at the Bank, Sharon has taken on a variety of roles in both tech and finance. “In my career, I have seen first-hand how the financial industry has transformed, with data playing an increasingly important role in how we understand our customers’ needs to serve them better”, she says.

Sharon (facing the camera) mentoring a colleague

Having completed the UOB Finance Academy, which is approved under Workforce Singapore’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP), Sharon has developed specialised skills in advanced data analytics, in addition to deepening her knowledge in finance and risk management.

Launched in August 2020, the UOB Finance Academy is a structured three-month learning programme designed to equip all 230 employees in the Bank’s Finance function in Singapore with the soft and technical skills to help them advance in their careers.

Equipped with these new skills, she is able to take on new tasks such as enhancing regulatory reporting processes using data insights and designing processes to optimise the quality of data that she manages in her daily work.

With the desire to mentor the next generation of professionals at UOB, Sharon is also in the process of attaining an Associate Certified Coach certification from the International Coaching Federation.

“Many young graduates are very eager, and want to become data scientists. I look forward to helping them build their confidence in interpreting and visualising business data and fuelling their creativity in harnessing the value of data in their line of work,” she explains.

The key thing for young staff – and indeed workers of all career stages – to work on is developing the right mindset, Sharon explains. “We need to develop a growth mindset regardless of our age or experience. Staying hungry for knowledge and pushing our boundaries will open doors to new possibilities and opportunities.”

This is a message that Ms Cheong from DBS would certainly stand behind. “I would actually give similar advice to both young graduates and more experienced workers who are interested in the Financial Services sector,” she smiles.

“We take a holistic, multi-faceted view of talent that goes beyond paper qualifications. What’s key is a positive attitude, including a curiosity for learning and growth. Starting in a brand new space can be a refreshing and enriching experience.”

“Keep an open mind and have the curiosity to learn. Starting in a brand new space can be a refreshing and enriching experience.”

Opportunities in the Financial Services sector

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