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Some people in the Singapore finance sector need more help than others.

Singapore grads and fintech staff targeted for extra Covid-19 support

If you’re an experienced employee in a stable job at a large bank in Singapore, spare a thought for others in the finance sector who may not be in such a fortunate position, in particular new graduates and staff in small fintech startups.

While some banks have told us that they are not pulling back on analyst offers already made to last year’s intern classes, the additional graduate jobs that usually crop up as the year progresses are in danger of being curtailed in 2020. Meanwhile, fintech deals and funding both fell dramatically year-on-year in Asia and globally last quarter, according to a report by CB Insights, which says fintechs will have to “tighten their belts” in 2020.

It’s perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that a new S$125m finance-sector Covid-19 support package from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has a strong focus on helping graduates and fintechs.

MAS will double the salary support – from S$1k to S$2k per person per month – it offers financial institutions to hire Singaporean citizens who are either fresh graduates or are joining the finance sector from other industries. The extra funding is applicable for cohorts hired in 2020 and 2021, and for applications submitted from 8 April this year.

It’s part of an existing initiative, the Finance Associate Management Scheme, which places Singaporeans into firms’ traineeship programmes to help groom them for future management roles. While it remains to be seen whether the additional money will dissuade banks from reducing graduate vacancies, S$2k makes up a substantial chunk of most monthly analyst salaries in Singapore.

Analyst-level staff working in generalist compliance roles, for example, earn about S$5.4k a month on average, so the subsidy is about 37% of their earnings. For investment bankers, it accounts for about 20% of their S$9.8k average monthly base pay.

Meanwhile, the MAS package includes a S$35m Digital Acceleration Grant to strengthen “operational resilience” and “support digitalisation” in smaller fintech firms and financial institutions. It includes financial subsidies for these companies to adopt digital tools that “facilitate business continuity” (e.g. document collaboration and virtual conferencing systems).

This part of the package is unlikely to have much effect on hiring at startups – which technology recruiters expect to be down on last year. But it may help them keep their current headcounts intact and boost the productivity of employees working from home during the circuit breaker. MAS is also providing all Singapore-based fintech firms six months’ free access to API Exchange, an online global marketplace and sandbox for collaboration and sales.

Other initiatives in the MAS programme – which aims to position financial institutions and fintech firms for stronger growth when economic activity normalises – include a new Training Allowance Grant to encourage firms to “make use of the downtime in business activity, to train and deepen the capabilities of their employees”. 

Separately, the Association of Banks in Singapore today banned people not wearing a face mask from entering bank branches.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: or Telegram: @simonmortlock

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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