Since the financial crisis, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been hard at work rebuilding trust in the country’s financial services. However, the managing director believes more must be done.
Ong Chong Tee made the remarks during a speech at the My Money Seminar on Saturday November 16. He started by saying has been busy since the Great Recession, trying to create new regulations and safeguards against mis-selling and mismanagement, all aimed at making the industry safer.
“Just being safe is not good enough,” Chong Tee said. “A vibrant financial sector must be able to support the smooth functioning of credit and money flows. It should meet the savings, investment and insurance protection needs of the people. Investors on their part want to have the confidence that they are treated fairly by financial institutions and that their savings are safe. This is why building trust in our financial institutions is so important. That trust goes beyond doing what is legally required, to include what is good and what is right.”
Even though the past decade has been devoted to creating strong safeguards against bad actors, which have made Singapore one of the leading FinTech nations in Asia, the MAS managing director stated that there is still room for improvement.
Citing the endemic bad behaviour unearthed in the Australian banking sector by the Royal Commission and similar problems in Singapore, Chong Tee stated that the work is far from finished.
That was why the regulator has recently introduced accountability guidelines for senior managers that force them to make it clear who is responsible for compliance breakdowns. Similarly, MAS is going to make financial institutions conduct reference checks with previous representatives of their employers.
Chong Tee also stated that MAS will double down on its efforts to monitor the financial advisory practices in the industry.
But he acknowledged that these efforts might not be enough.
“The reality of course, is that no amount of regulations nor supervision can prevent wrongdoings,” Chong Tee said. “To try to do so would require a large volume of pre-emptive rules as well as unlimited supervisory resources. Both situations are neither possible nor desirable.
“This is why MAS also places importance on our enforcement actions. We will not hesitate to investigate and take errant financial institutions or their representatives to task for breaches of our law and regulations. We have issued prohibition orders against individuals for a range of misconduct, from mis-selling to dishonesty and fraud. Our message is clear – improper or illegal conduct have no place in our financial sector.”
UBS recently found out how serious Singapore is about operators conducting themselves correctly. MAS slammed the investment bank with a $11.2m fine earlier in November for breaking the rules of the Securities and Futures Act