In recent years, Singapore has emerged as a key financial center, overtaking Hong Kong to be Asia’s top financial center and third in the world. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the total assets under management in Singapore increased by 16% in 2021 to S$5.4 trillion. This is more than the global increase of 12% to $112 trillion last year. This development has brought about a demand for asset managers in the country, making it the ideal time for job seekers to capitalise on the industry growth.
Take it from Kelvin Tay, the Regional Chief Investment Officer at UBS Global Wealth Management and WMI’s faculty member. “Singapore is one of the key Financial Centers globally,” says Kelvin.
“With an exceptionally strong regulatory environment and solid foundations, we have been able to stand out from the other financial centers. On top of that, we have political stability and a bilingual, highly skilled workforce, which continues to attract a lot of assets from other jurisdictions. As Singapore continues to attract global public investors and asset owners, job opportunities in asset management are set to continue growing.”
As a fresh graduate in Singapore, entering the investment industry for the first time could be intimidating, especially if you lack working experience. However, with the right exposure and mindset, standing out among your peers to secure a job and a successful career is an attainable goal.
Here are four tips to help you stand out as an asset management fresh grad in Singapore.
As you take your first step into the working world, it’s normal to want to aim high and go straight for the corporate giants. While the brand name of these organisations may be compelling, Kelvin advises that the smaller firms offer the breadth and depth of experience which their larger counterparts may not be able to.
The key to getting a head start in the industry, especially during your university years, is to expose yourself by doing internships at various places. There are many opportunities out there, and you don’t have to do it at very big firms… Getting the practical experience is actually very important,” says Kelvin.
Starting out in a large corporation may limit the exposure which interns get because of the way they are structured. By contrast, those who have the practical experience in a smaller firm tend to get more experience under their belt, putting them in good stead when applying for a full-time job and going for interviews with potential employers.
According to the industry veteran, in the coming year, most of the opportunities will result from the rise of family offices setting up shop in Singapore. “While the capital markets did not perform as well last year, a lot of the growth came from family offices, which is a very good area to carve out a career in. Then once you have built your capabilities, opportunities will naturally come knocking on your doors,” he adds.
Other than internships, enrolling in adult learning or post-graduate programmes is one way to develop skills beyond those that you have acquired during formal education. The rate at which the asset management realm evolves may outpace the theoretical knowledge from college. Practical competencies and hands-on experience will be key enablers to thrive in an asset management career.
I think that’s where WMI comes in, to try to train our potential talent pool with as much practical knowledge as possible. It’s complementary to what the universities are doing, which covers foundational theory. In WMI, we focus on the practical aspects of asset management,” says the investment head and WMI faculty member.
As with most industry an extensive professional network in the world of asset management is an important driver of success. Building connections with experienced industry leaders and fellow peers will provide you with the work and learning opportunities that can help you to propel in your career. From new job opportunities to insightful advice, there are a myriad of benefits you can reap from established professional relationships.
Attend industry seminars and conferences, join groups of interest, or simply utilise online networking sites such as LinkedIn. Starting early in establishing rapport with likeminded peers and seasoned industry professionals goes a long way.
Change is a constant in the asset management field. While your technical skills will get your foot in the door, your inquisitiveness will be what gives you an edge in the industry.
To stand out from other candidates, you must demonstrate that you are truly keen on investments. Other than hard skills, other telling factors include what you do during your spare time. Do you know or read about the markets? Did you participate in any investment-related clubs or activities during your University days? When I hire, I look out not only for the aptitude but also the right attitude,” says Kelvin.
As a fresh graduate in such a rapidly evolving market environment, consistency is important. Hence, committing some time each day to learn the latest news and expand your knowledge in the sector will be instrumental to demonstrating your earnestness and commitment to your career and development.
All in all, “Never stop learning. Reading can really help you a lot. Many of us are guilty of not reading, but being disciplined is imperative in this industry. Work never ends, especially in the investment world,” adds Kelvin.
He caveats, “But it doesn’t mean you only have to read about the markets. You can read just about anything and everything. Let’s say for example, you are interested in cars. You can read about cars and electric vehicles, and all that and it might come in useful because you know the automobile industry is a big part of the investment. You’ll never know how something that you’re reading which may be seemingly frivolous and irrelevant can be very important when it comes to investments.”
Gain deep insights into the investment industry directly from Kelvin at WMI’s Certificate in Fundamentals of Investments (CFI).
This cohort-based, blended learning programme will equip you with the knowledge about the asset management landscape, the impact of global macro cycles on investment performance, financial statements through the eyes of an investor, and how to build a long-term investment portfolio. By the end of the program, you will have gained practical knowledge to jumpstart your asset management career.