UOB takes on digibanks in Singapore hiring push

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UOB takes on digibanks in Singapore hiring push

Although the Monetary Authority of Singapore first awarded four digital bank licences in December 2020, Singapore’s traditional banks have been pursuing a digital-first mindset well before that – and they’re hiring to build up their digital teams.

DBS’s journey towards becoming the digital bank that it is known as today started in 2013, when a senior executive meeting presided by Group CEO Piyush Gupta led it to conclude that it had to do things very differently. Its move towards becoming a so-called 20,000-person banking tech start-up was largely inspired by how Alibaba and its fintech arm, Ant Financial (incidentally one of the new digital wholesale bank licensees) had been providing payments, funding, lending and insurance services all without any physical locations.

Today, Singapore’s largest lender continues to create many new roles for its key business divisions, including digital payments, institutional banking, risk management and transformation.

As recently as May 2020, it also publicised the creation of over 300 permanent positions skewed towards seasoned professionals specialising in the growth tech functions of user experience/user interface, data science, fraud detection, compliance, as well as consumer and institutional banking technology.

Meanwhile, UOB first began hiring for its digital banking arm, TMRW, as early as during its conceptualisation seven years ago. But it only began to scale up recruitment after it launched the service in Thailand and Indonesia in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Since then, the digital platform division has hired a number of banking and technology professionals. According to BloombergNate Tan, HSBC’s former head of financial institutions group investment banking in Southeast Asia, will be joining UOB's digital banking platform.

UOB has also been recruiting data and behavourial scientists, designers, and salespeople to help it achieve its vision of becoming the “world’s most engaging digital bank”. “We recognise the importance of nurturing the next generation of talents whether they are recent graduates, mid-career professionals or returning Singaporeans,” says Kevin Lam, head of TMRW digital group and group digital banking.

One way the TMRW does this is “through meaningfully designed traineeship programmes”, such as the Technology in Finance Immersion Programme and the Technology Development Programme, which was launched in April 2022.

Through the former, the group has been able to help mid-career professionals gain experience in key technology areas within the financial industry, such as AI, business analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity and software engineering. Under that programme, it also hired 65 trainees across three cohorts, the highest number of trainees among participating financial institutions.

For the rest of 2022 and 2023, the TMRW team is actively looking for candidates – bankers and non-bankers alike – at the group and country levels across Singapore and Southeast Asia, as it continues to deploy the platform across the region, and enhance its capabilities and functionalities.

“The accelerated adoption of digital services over the last two years has amplified the demand for

talents who specialise in technology, data and cybersecurity, and are able to drive agile innovation for their organisations,” says Lam. “The banking industry is no different, especially amid growing expectations for progressive banking solutions as more consumers become comfortable with transacting and investing online,” says Lam.

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