MAS Scholar Huang Yiheng started work in MAS as a Policy Analyst with the Prudential Policy Department after obtaining a Master in Finance from Princeton University and Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics and Economics) from Cornell University. He currently works as a Portfolio Manager in the Reserve Management Department.
As the central bank of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) promotes sustained, non-inflationary economic growth through the conduct of monetary policy and close macroeconomic surveillance and analysis. It manages Singapore’s exchange rate, official foreign reserves, and liquidity in the banking sector. As an integrated financial supervisor, it also fosters a sound financial services sector through its prudent oversight of all financial institutions in Singapore – banks, insurers, capital market intermediaries, financial advisors, and stock exchanges – and is also responsible for well-functioning financial markets, sound conduct, and investor education. As promoter of Singapore as an international financial centre, MAS facilitates the development of infrastructure, adoption of technology, and upgrading of skills in the financial industry.
Undertaking this important work requires motivated professionals who are skilled in their craft such as Scholar Huang Yiheng. Yiheng works as a Portfolio Manager (Asset Allocation) in the Reserve Management Department at MAS where he is part of the team that works on managing Singapore’s official foreign reserves to achieve good long-term investment returns within prudent risk parameters. He also drives strategic asset allocation and sustainable investing efforts.
Yiheng chose to apply for the MAS Undergraduate Scholarship as he had a strong interest in finance and was aware of MAS’ role in formulating and implementing Singapore’s monetary policy during his junior college days. Through the scholarship, he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics and Economics) from Cornell University before earning a Master in Finance from Princeton University.
We hear more about his varied work experiences at MAS and what he enjoys about his role.
What sparked your passion for the field of finance?
It began with an interest in mathematics and economics, which naturally connect to finance given the increased linkages between financial markets and the economy. The Global Financial Crisis also piqued my curiosity about the financial industry and a career in financial regulation.
As I learnt more about the industry during my studies, I decided to specialise in quantitative finance during my post-graduate education as it best suited my interests and strengths.
With your interest in Finance, you aptly chose the MAS Undergraduate Scholarship. Could you elaborate on your decision?
I was drawn to a career in the public service and wanted a specialised role that would allow me to apply my interests and strengths. At the same time, I also hoped to have some variety in my job scope throughout my career.
As an economics student in junior college, I was acquainted with MAS’ role in formulating and implementing Singapore’s monetary policy. At a scholarship fair, I also learnt about the wide range of roles that MAS plays, as a central bank and a financial regulator. This seemed like a good fit for me, and with the impact of the Global Financial Crisis fresh in my mind, MAS struck me as a place where I could really make a difference.
How has the scholarship supported you in your journey at MAS?
The scholarship initiatives, including the internships I completed with MAS, helped me build a network within MAS, which I was able to depend on when I needed guidance or assistance at work. When I was choosing a master’s programme, I was also able to leverage the experience of other scholars who shared their advice.
Could you tell us more about the work that you do in your current role?
As part of the Asset Allocation Division within the Reserve Management Department, I work with my colleagues to manage the Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA) of MAS’ Official Foreign Reserves (OFR) portfolio. In determining the SAA, we consider economic and asset class outlooks, as well as certain risk parameters unique to the OFR portfolio.
My team also drives MAS’ sustainable investing efforts, which include assessing and managing how climate change and different climate scenarios could impact the portfolio’s long-term investment returns and risks.
Another core responsibility is keeping abreast of global market developments, hence my daily routine of reading news and analyst reports. Apart from these, my day-to-day responsibilities differ significantly based on the projects I am working on. I may be writing code, analysing data or reading academic papers, to name a few.
Having worked in MAS for some time, what is your most significant career achievement to date?
Two years ago, shortly after COVID-19 hit Singapore, I joined a cross-departmental workgroup to work on MAS’ response to the pandemic. While the circuit breaker slowed the transmission of COVID, this came at an economic cost as many businesses could not operate, severely affecting their cash flows.
To preserve jobs and support enterprises and households, we worked closely with the financial industry and other government agencies to roll out a range of relief measures, such as loan moratoria for individuals and SMEs, rental relief for affected businesses, and loan guarantee schemes administered by Enterprise Singapore with low-cost funding provided by MAS. Though it was a challenging period with long hours, it was incredibly fulfilling to know that our work had a significant impact on supporting Singaporeans and the economy.
Sounds like your work has been very fulfilling! Could you tell us more about what is like working at MAS?
A career in MAS is both meaningful and exciting. MAS officers have opportunities to specialise in their field of interest and to make lateral transfers through different functions to develop a broader skillset. Within each role, there are constantly new challenges and opportunities to learn and develop.
In terms of work culture, I enjoy the collegial and supportive environment, where supervisors and colleagues are invested in my growth and development.