MORE Singaporeans are securing top jobs at foreign banks, with a string of senior appointments in recent years.
An educated workforce and Singapore's growing role as a financial centre have allowed more to climb the banking ladder.
In June, for instance, Mr Shee Tse Koon, 44, was appointed Standard Chartered's chief executive for Indonesia. The same month, Mr Tan Kock Kheng, 54, was appointed Citi's global head of local markets risk treasury.
But senior bank executives say that while such appointments are encouraging, more can be done to help nurture a more globally competitive workforce here.
Despite the growing number of Singaporeans taking on regional roles at international banks both here and abroad, not all go on to clinch top global roles.
The issue has been in the spotlight since Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in June that Singapore needs to develop more local talent for "positions of leadership in tomorrow's financial world".
At Citi, Singaporeans make up over 30 per cent of its Asean Management Committee. Another Singaporean in a global role is Mr Money K, global head for next generation at Citi Private Bank.
A StanChart spokesman said the bank has about 7,000 staff based in Singapore, and these include both country roles and global roles, as the global business operates from the Republic.
Of its 7,000 staff, about 6 per cent hold senior management positions and of those, more than a fifth are Singaporeans, he said.
Another recent senior appointment was at ABN Amro Bank Singapore which appointed Mr Daniel Teo, 53, as deputy country executive. He was already the bank's chief operating officer for both Singapore and private banking for Asia and Middle East.
In Singapore, 60 per cent of ABN Amro's senior management team are Singaporeans.
"Singapore, being an established financial hub in the region, has given Singaporeans plenty of opportunities to accumulate extensive experience in the finance sector," said Mr Teo.
Women are making their mark too. Singaporean Pollie Sim took over as Maybank International chief executive in October last year. She said more Singaporeans have reached management level and put that down to better education, more international exposure and government support.
The Financial Scholarship Programme (FSP), for instance, aims to develop a pipeline of specialist leaders, and supports postgraduate programmes in specialised areas, including actuarial science. About 170 scholarships have been awarded since it was launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 2006.
Banks also note various training and development programmes they have in place.
Mr Shee said Singaporeans are now more willing to travel and work abroad. Their work ethic is "highly respected by many".
He has had various regional and overseas appointments, and said that in meeting colleagues, clients, government or central bank officials overseas, "they often expressed interest in understanding how Singapore has become so successful as a nation".
He thinks getting that top job is about the "ability and attitude" in various ways. "Singaporeans are often under-rated, perhaps because culturally, we are relatively modest, and sometimes over-modest... We must believe that we are as good, if not better, and find an elegant way to better 'market' ourselves."
Singaporeans should also be prepared to take the plunge, "to put up our hands for the top job", and those who have made it must be confident enough to be champions of talented Singaporeans.