Jia Rong is a MAS Undergraduate Scholar, with a Bachelor of Science in Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a Master in Finance from Princeton University. He is now an Economist in the Macroprudential Surveillance Department with MAS.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plays multiple roles in the Singapore economy and financial sector, acting as a central bank, integrated financial regulator, and financial sector promoter. This translates to a broad scope of roles in multiple domains ranging from central banking to financial supervision to financial sector development.
Alongside a diverse portfolio of financial specialities, MAS offers a unique career proposition – meaningful and purposeful work, with the opportunity to contribute towards building Singapore as a premier financial hub, and thus making a difference to Singapore's economic and financial landscape.
The opportunity to apply financial knowledge for the benefit of others drew Fan Jia Rong to MAS, where he is now an Economist in the Macroprudential Surveillance Department. He takes pride in being part of a team which conducts stress tests to assess the banking sector's resilience to shocks such as climate change.
The MAS Undergraduate Scholar is flying high in this dynamic organisation, where officers can learn and develop expertise in new and emerging topics such as Fintech and sustainable finance.
Like Jia Rong, those with an analytical mind, a keen willingness to learn and a collaborative attitude will be sure to find their niche and stretch their potential with MAS.
The Birth of an Economist
Jia Rong was in secondary school when the Global Financial Crisis occurred. While news headlines initially focused on the USA subprime mortgage market collapse, Singapore and other economies were soon facing a severe economic downturn.
This domino effect fascinated the student and he began to read up about the global economy and financial system, subsequently deciding to pursue economics and finance in university.
However, he found himself unsatisfied with mere academic or monetary pursuit. Searching for meaning in his studies, he realised the role of MAS in driving and shaping Singapore's economic and financial development.
"MAS is an organisation where I could apply my interest in economics and finance for the greater good," he said.
The scholarship selection process cinched his decision, as he observed the passion and dedication that MAS staff put into their work as well as the warm camaraderie and teamwork that they exhibited.
Investing in Potential
Recognising his potential, MAS awarded Jia Rong the prestigious MAS Undergraduate Scholarship, sponsoring his Bachelor of Science in Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Master in Finance from Princeton University.
The investment yielded handsome dividends for both scholar and sponsor. At LSE, Jia Rong had the privilege of being taught by Sir Charlie Bean, former Chief Economist and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Meanwhile, at Princeton, he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from quantitative traders and hedge fund managers about current topics such as high-frequency trading and the characteristics of Asian capital markets.
Summer breaks were also a time for learning. Through multiple internships, Jia Rong was able to both gain real-world experience and contribute to MAS' aims. He interned at MAS' Markets Policy and Infrastructure Department (MPI) where he worked on a research project modelling the impact of different market microstructures on the quality of stock markets, and again at the Systemic Risk Centre at LSE coding up models to forecast financial risks.
"It was fascinating to apply theoretical concepts in a real-world setting, especially those which I had previously learnt in school," said the scholar, fondly recalling animated lunch discussions and the financial insights therein.
A Resilient Banking Sector
Today, his primary work scope focuses on the financial stability implications of climate change, developing climate scenarios for stress tests while conducting assessments of how climate-related risks could affect our financial state.
That said, our national financial regulator does not operate in a vacuum. When the pandemic hit, MAS was closely involved in supporting the local economy.
"Many MAS staff, including myself, were involved in cross-departmental workgroups looking at MAS' Covid-19 response – while the work was especially fast-paced and challenging, it was heartening to see the very tangible and immediate impact of our work on the financial industry, the broader economy and ultimately, the lives of Singaporeans," said Jia Rong.
While the learning curve for this and other projects has been steep, a team-oriented and collegial work culture helped him settle into his role quickly and comfortably. He also fit in with the organisation's belief in fostering personal growth, reflected in the range of development opportunities available to MAS officers, including numerous in-house training courses, attachments to financial institutions, and secondments to government agencies and supra-national organisations like the International Monetary Fund.
Jia Rong's story proves that taking up the MAS Scholarship is a sound investment, be it in finances or one's future.
The scholar closed his interview by highlighting the future investment trends MAS must tackle – and the opportunities therein for other budding economists, supervisors, and financial sector developers. "The economic and financial landscape is constantly evolving – accordingly, the issues that MAS officers work on are increasingly complex and cross-cutting in nature."
"Thus, work in MAS is intellectually stimulating and rewarding, and will have a tangible impact on shaping Singapore's economy and financial development."