The pace of change in Singapore’s dynamic financial services sector is picking up – rising regional wealth is fuelling the private banking industry, banks are investing more resources in compliance, and IT innovation is forcing firms to rethink how they interact with customers.
This is creating both challenges and opportunities for those working in finance. While many local and global financial institutions are expanding their headcounts in Singapore, they are focused on finding people who are already equipped with the skills needed to navigate the new financial environment.
If you’re a financial services professional in Singapore, work experience and an undergraduate degree may not be enough to set you apart in an increasingly tight job market. The Kaplan Higher Education Institute in Singapore is running a course that can give you the competitive edge you now need, providing both skills and networks to help you clinch a promotion or move into a better role at a new employer.
Its Master of Science (MSc) in Finance degree, run in conjunction with the prestigious Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin (UCD), has already helped many Singaporeans take their careers to the next level.
Shawn Tham is one of these success stories – he was working in insurance sales and then in the property sector before embarking on the MSc Finance in order to get a more managerial role. Now he’s leading a team of five people as a financial services manager at insurance giant Manulife and he says having the Kaplan qualification was key to making the move. “I found that financial employers in Singapore respect this degree and they realise that I have a good financial knowledge because of it. And equally, candidates applying to my team are impressed by seeing it on my profile.”
Tham says he did “plenty of due diligence” before choosing Kaplan. “There are lots of course providers in Singapore so you must be very careful. I considered a variety of MBAs, for example, but ultimately I wanted to advance my career in finance and learn more finance skills. The MBAs were too generalised and the MSc was better because it was more focused on my career needs in the finance sector.”
MSc Finance students study four core financial subjects: capital markets, derivative securities, portfolio and risk management, and strategic finance. “You’re provided not just with a conceptual understanding of these financial assets but also some of the practical pitfalls and considerations they present. It’s this marriage of the practical and the academic that’s central to our programme’s success,” says Dr Orna O’Brien, Associate Director, UCD College of Business.
The course won’t only boost your technical skills – you also take three business modules: organisational behaviour, global strategic management, and corporate financial management. “We develop the softer skills which are required in this dynamic sector. You complete group projects allowing you to hone people management skills like decision making, negotiation and delegation,” says Dr O’Brien.
Tham says the project work was one of the highlights of the course. “It was aligned to what you’d do in a work environment so it increased my teamworking skills as a result. The degree also boosted my written communication skills through writing research papers, and there were great networking opportunities. I’m still in touch with my classmates and a lot of them work in finance so they are excellent contacts.”
As a student you can network not only with your own class but also with past graduates, says Dr O’Brien. “We strongly encourage you to make use of the networking opportunities both during and after your study.”
Many graduates say that above all the programme has given them more “confidence” in the careers. Tham agrees: “I definitely feel more confident in my job because I have a more rounded set of both managerial and technical skills to draw upon day-to-day.”