FOREIGN banks here say they are committed to developing a Singaporean core, stepping up efforts to groom and keep local talent.

Their comments came as Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at a banking industry event last night that Singaporeans have to develop skills to prepare for the financial world of tomorrow.

Standard Chartered Bank and UBS said Singaporean staff are core to their operations and they regularly engage highly rated and highly valued local employees.

They do it to find out how employees' career aspirations can be met and to keep them in the company as well as the industry.

At UBS, of the over 2,000 employees in its Singapore office, more than 75 per cent are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

The bank said it has many Singaporean bankers who hold senior regional appointments. Among them are Mr Edmund Koh, the Singapore country head and chief executive of UBS Wealth Management's South-east Asia and Asia Pacific hub; Mr Gan Seow Ann, vice-chairman of the hub; and Ms Yeoh Choo Guan, head of Asean client trading and execution as well as head of Singapore equities.

Mr Koh said: "It is important to nurture more Singaporean bankers for the finance industry here and the region, particularly as Singapore gains greater importance as a global financial centre.

"While UBS' human resource policies continue to be based on meritocracy and the best person for the role, we are committed to recruiting, developing and retaining Singapore talent."

Meanwhile, StanChart engages its staff regularly through feedback sessions and its internal surveys show there is strong demand for tailor-made training and mentorship programmes.

"I joined the bank in 1995 and spent the past 19 years learning from great mentors at different stages of my career," said Mr Gary Tan, its head of financial markets here. "Now I am able to contribute and make a difference by sharing what I have learnt and helping colleagues in the way my mentors helped me in the past."

Singaporeans and PRs make up some 82 per cent of the 10,000- strong staff at Citibank.

Its Singapore country officer Michael Zink said: "Just as we are fully supportive of developing local talent, it is equally important to have some foreign talent with global perspectives, expertise and skills to complement the overall development of Singapore as an international financial hub."

Some Singaporeans believe there is still a bias against locals at some foreign banks. Ms D. Tan, a public relations executive who declined to give her full name, said her husband was passed over for promotion following the appointment of a foreigner as the boss.

Robert Half Singapore managing director Stella Tang noted: "Most of the foreigners employed by banks and financial institutions here are in mid- or top-level roles, where their skills are relatively niche and difficult to find in Singapore."