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Opening Address By Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister, Prime Minister's Office And Second Minister For Finance And Transport at the Financial Women's Association's Winning Solution Forum - Career Retooling Event, 9 September 2009 at One Raffles Quay

09 Sep 2009

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Good Evening. I am truly delighted, for several reasons, to be here for the Financial Women's Association's Winning Solution Forum. Firstly, this is one of the highlights of the Association's efforts at helping those who have been affected by the economic downturn, a commendable initiative.

2. Secondly, professionals in the financial services sector tend to be more vulnerable to any plunge in economic activity. Many changes can be expected from a merger or acquisition of financial institutions, or even a disappearance altogether of some, to the attendant changes in regulations to the advent of new services and products. If the changes are purely cyclical, then employment can be expected to pick up in tandem with a recovery. If however the changes are structural, then some professionals may find themselves out of a role even when recovery takes place. Such a platform will enable professionals to share experiences, motivate each other and learn together.

3. Thirdly, having myself spent many years in the financial services sector, I know what it takes to make the professionals tick, and in turn the sector and the economy as a whole function properly. I believe the sector will continue to offer the most challenging opportunities for people with the hunger, dare and perseverance.

4. Tonight's event is the fourth in the Series of Career Re-tooling Programs aimed at helping displaced bankers Re-Group, Re-invent and Re-engineer. As I have noted earlier, this is an extension of their on-going efforts to both provide a platform for professional support and contacts in the industry; and resources to encourage the intellectual, professional and personal growth of its members.

Financial climate

5. Earlier this year, all signs were pointing to the possibility that the unemployment rate during the current downturn will increase to

9. Lately, we seemed to be seeing a turn around in the global financial markets. The MSCI Indices have risen by between 20% and 50% from their lows in March, and volumes have climbed too.

Financal Sector Job Market

10. The market recovery has brought about improved confidence and improved revenues for the financial sector. Hiring freezes are gradually being lifted, though not across the board nor to the extent to which jobs were lost. The financial job market still remains very much a "Buyers Market".

11. As an open economy exposed to global headwinds or tailwinds, Singapore's workforce has to be nimble and adapt faster to global forces than our competitors. When our old jobs become redundant, we have to re-tool, adapt, and look for new jobs to venture into and new areas to develop. To succeed in this, we need a change to our mindset. Retrenchment will continue and can happen to anyone - however, it should not be seen as a personal failure but rather, it should be treated as an opportunity to upgrade or switch industries to find the job with the right fit.

Initiatives to help job-seekers

12. In line with this objective, the FWA's Winning Solution Forum pulls together relevant information in the market place and provides a one-stop platform to help finance professionals and other job seekers within the finance sector to consider new possibilities. In fact, the information should also be useful to currently employed finance professionals who feel vulnerable or for those who are keen to learn about the options available.

13. Similarly, the Ministry of Manpower and the Workforce Development Agency have put in place a number of initiatives to assist those who are in search of employment. The Professional Skills Programme, or PSP, was implemented particularly for the Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). It provides numerous training opportunities to improve one's