The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) says it supports the move by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to increase the minimum qualifying salary (MQS) for entry-level employment pass (EP) holders in the financial services sector to $5,000.

In a statement on August 27, the Singapore central bank says it worked closely with MOM to determine the new MQS, which is higher compared to the rest of the economy. MAS says the higher MQS takes into account the higher local salary levels in the financial services sector.

The increase in the MQS will provide further support for hiring of Singaporeans in the financial services sector.

The sector has continued to create some 1,500 jobs even in the current crisis in the first half of the year, with four out of five jobs going to Singapore citizens.

MAS says that job creations will be slower in the second half of the year and could remain muted next year, although the financial sector is well positioned to be an important source of job opportunities for Singaporeans in the years ahead.

The increase in the MQS will continue to allow financial institutions to complement their local workforce by tapping on a global talent pool for the specialised skillsets that the financial sector needs.

Specialised skillsets include deep capabilities in areas like cyber security, machine learning, and full stack development, as well as expertise in new growth segments like green finance, pandemic risk insurance, and family offices.

“The move towards the higher salary criteria for EP candidates complements MAS’ manpower development programmes to expand job opportunities and deepen local capabilities,” says Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director (markets & development) at MAS.

“A high quality workforce, with a strong Singaporean core complemented by EP holders with specialised skills, will best enable our financial services sector to compete internationally, and seize new growth opportunities as the Asian and global economies recover,” Loh adds.