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Asia Compliance Specialist Taps Singapore's Training Hunger

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , London, 10 August 2020

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The firm has set up online courses for wealth management professionals working in Singapore to help get a tighter grasp of compliance challenges ranging from AML through to cybersecurity matters. We talk to the people running the business.

(An earlier version of this item was published last Friday on WealthBriefingAsia, sister news service to this one.)

Singapore has been tightening the screws on dirty money in its compliance drive. As part of this drive, The Monetary Authority of Singapore is requiring asset management personnel in the Asian jurisdiction to complete at least six hours of compliance and ethics training a year.

ComplianceAsia, a consultancy based in the Asian city-state and founded in 2003, has recently partnered with the Investment Management Association of Singapore to create content for iLearn, an online portal that helps train asset managers. Increased use of digital working channels means that training wealth managers about the rules has to migrate out of the conventional classroom

At the moment the biggest concern in Singapore is AML. There has been a big focus on the topic in the wake of the 1MDB financial flows out of Malaysia, Alex Duperouzel, one of the co-owners and the managing director at ComplianceAsia, said. (Philippa Allen is founder and chief executive of ComplianceAsia.)

The asset management sector has become more complicated over the past few years, Duperouzel said, whether because of new requirements for fee disclosure, new investment styles such as ESG, or new ways of thinking about risk and investment suitability. 

“People need a different learning option to keep up with this,” he said. The wealth industry was more transactional a few decades ago, but this is changing.”

Other important areas are the fair treatment of investors and certain business ethics questions. “The industry wants a standardised set of courses,” Duperouzel said. 

Operating across Asia, ComplianceAsia has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

The rise of such business ventures attests to how "ed-tech", aka education technology, is accelerating, driven not just by remote working caused by COVID-19 but by a greater desire to learn "on the hoof" and in a more flexible way than based in a classroom.

The course work, which covers a number of modules that people can learn in “bite-sized” amounts, examines the different features of regulation and compliance affecting wealth management practitioners in Asia. The courses were assembled by assessing a lot of feedback from the IMAS and wider industry. They have also been constructed to take into account changing work habits, how people work from home, how they study and read content while travelling, or when they are out and about in a town.

Subject matter includes the following areas: 

-- Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism in Singapore; 

-- Corporate governance and the senior management individual accountability regime in Singapore; 

-- Ethics in the financial industry; 

-- Intro to MAS regulations for fund managers; 

-- Market abuse in Singapore; and 

-- Strengthening cyber resilience Singapore. 

ComplianceAsia’s programme has been operating for some time. The Monetary Authority of Singapore required a first round of training to be achieved by 30 June.

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