Awards for Distinction 2019 – Employer of the Year

Employer of the Year


Bank of Singapore

Employer of the Year

Jeffrey Chiam

global head of human resources, Bank of Singapore

“An organisation’s success is defined by the experience it provides to stakeholders. We place people and culture on top of our priorities and are proud of our diverse, motivated, and forward-looking workforce providing a great customer experience. We have made considerable strides in creating a unique identity for Bank of Singapore as an employer of choice, embodying the core values we stand for. We maintain a conducive environment for our employees to succeed in their present and future roles by promoting a strong learning culture, spirit of innovation, inclusiveness and open communication.

Our talents are valued as individuals who have immense potential and a growth mindset. We therefore provide them with many opportunities to stretch themselves and excel. As we expand our global footprint, we continuously seek out talents and give new joiners a great experience by providing innovative staff programmes, development opportunities and a supportive workplace, where everyone works as a team but is valued as an individual.”

Winners rationale

While upholding a renowned name as an employer can be difficult, it is more challenging to eradicate old stereotypes and impress employees to buy-in to the change in company culture. Among strong contestants, Bank of Singapore has made the most efforts to establish a positive company culture by leading with a powerful tone from the top and making visible enhancements in 2019 that benefitted staff — who were able to judge for themselves from their daily working experience.Healthy business prospects and the willingness to invest in human capital have attracted a diverse pool of talent to work for this young and vibrant OCBC subsidiary. Bank of Singapore houses talent hailing from over 30 countries with an average tenure of five years. The workforce has a good balance of people from different ages and genders, with women taking up 45% of senior positions in the bank and over half of employees being millennials or younger.

The use of AI chatbots for résumé screening and core competencies assessment sits well with the younger workforce which appreciates the operational smoothness. The bank uses profiling tools to find the best fit among young talent and has in place four different tailored programmes across Hong Kong and Singapore to ensure there is a sustainable, well-trained talent flow within the bank from front to back office.

Awarded the ‘Best Private Bank – Training & Development’ award in 2017, Bank of Singapore has a customised and “panoramic” wealth management training suite with multiple training options — from regulatory qualification programmes, an Institute of Banking & Finance accredited advanced diploma in private banking, to data visualisation workshops. The bank took this further in 2019 by cancelling the need for manager approval in attending training programmes and having its first learning carnival in Dubai.

To create a more collaborative working environment, Bank of Singapore renovated its offices this year from traditional silo cubicles into an open office with ample pantry space and breakout areas, while taking care of gender and cultural nuances — with dedicated ovens for halal food and nursing rooms for working mums.

By standing firmly against any emotionally harmful interactions at work, Bahren Shaari, CEO of Bank of Singapore made a clear and determined statement towards establishing a more supportive culture within the bank at the 2019 townhall meeting. The bank created a colleagues appreciation day, an online comic series on workplace etiquette, and made ‘thank you’ cards always available, so staff could show their appreciation to fellow colleagues on a regular basis.

The feedback of employees showed they were impressed by the effort made by management in the recent two years to revive a positive work culture in the bank. They believed that the bank was on the right track to becoming more friendly, flexible and reputable as a workplace.

Bank of Singapore is Asian Private Banker’s Employer of the Year for 2019.

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