‘Kodak moments’ in the Singapore Finance Industry

As a joint initiative by OSU, MAS and IBF, we are curating a series of features on people who stand out within the Finance industry. They will shed light on developments of the industry in Singapore, as well as the work they do to engage a community of Overseas Singaporeans in Finance (OSF).


This week, we have Mr. Eric Lim, Managing Director of Group Finance at UOB.



1.     Please introduce yourself and what you do


Hi, my name is Eric Lim and I head up the Finance function for UOB Group. I’ve been a finance (read: bean-counter) in financial services guy for most of my career and find it to be a massively fascinating industry. It is an industry that is built purely around a concept – as in the concept of “money”; nothing concrete is actually made, it really is just a bunch of digital bits and bytes of financial information, wrapped in legal contracts (that’s all most loans and investment products are!) and used in a way where we can either create great value for or inflict great harm to our economies and communities. It is also an industry that is so completely intertwined with our daily lives – every time we take a train, buy a car, relax at home, send our children to school and have a meal out with friends, the whole range of financial services are invisibly present to enable us to do all these things. It is this view I have, of the criticality and ubiquity of the industry that drives me to help build and run a bank as responsible and sustainable as we can.


2.     Share some background on this community and how it was conceived?


The Overseas Singaporeans in Finance (OSF) community was conceived over a networking session between financial services professionals based in Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). At this session, we were speaking on how to continually build a Singaporean pool of talent for the financial services industry in Singapore. This was when the topic of engaging Overseas Singaporeans who are working in overseas markets came up. As a returnee myself, it is a topic that is close to my heart and so, we assembled a team of industry professionals to work on this initiative. The goal of the community is to build connections between Overseas Singaporeans and the industry back here in Singapore, and to provide meaningful resources for OSFs who are looking to come home, so as to ease their repatriation. We are working closely with the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) to reach out to our fellow Singaporeans across the world, and we hope to be of value to them.


3.     What is one development in Singapore or Singapore's financial services that you find most interesting?


Not so much a development, but a constant. Having been home for some years, I have begun to fully understand how a country like Singapore is continuously faced with ‘Kodak moments’ (i.e. Kodak not keeping pace with digital cameras and becoming side-lined) where we are forced to either evolve or lose relevance. We can see this very starkly in the financial services industry – with the advent of financial technology (Fintech) and a rapidly evolving customer behaviour (i.e. eyeballs on mobile as a preferred manner of interacting with the world), it is critical that Singapore’s financial services industry re-invents ourselves to meet the demands of our customers. I don’t subscribe to the “Fintechs will replace banks” worldview, but I do think that traditional banks will win or lose the next generation of customers based on its ease of digital engagement – at the end of the day, it comes back to the customer and whether we are wrapping ourselves around them to give them the best experience possible via their preferred mode of interaction.


4.     What is the most valuable part of your overseas experience that you have brought back with you to Singapore?


I spent the first 12 years of my career overseas and have lived/worked in over 20 countries (I’ve lost count of the cities…). As many of my Overseas Singaporean friends will attest to, each experience is so very valuable in building the mind-set and philosophy that we have today. I think the biggest thing I took away from my time overseas is this fundamental belief and conviction that we Singaporeans are capable of competing at the top levels of global talent if we are willing to put ourselves out there –  to test ourselves against the best, to take on the scary and tough assignments, and to try and try again at the things we feel least confident about.


Overseas Singaporeans have no ‘safety net’ when we are away from home. It’s a combination of talents that you’ll have to forge on a global stage, when on someone else’s terms, to earn your space in someone else’s country. This makes for highly competent and resilient professionals. I salute you, our Overseas Singaporeans in Finance!



OSF (Overseas Singaporeans in Finance) is an initiative by the financial services industry in Singapore, working in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU).


The primary objective of this group is to engage global Singaporeans who have an interest in staying in touch with Singapore’s financial services industry, connecting with other Singaporean FSI professionals, and who may be interested in exploring financial services careers in Singapore.


This group will connect you to key FSI personalities and their thoughts on the industry, as well as keeping you updated on interesting news and developments relating to Singapore as a financial hub.


It will also link you to an exclusive panel of Singapore-based executive search professionals who would be able to assist you in exploring careers in Singapore.


Membership is exclusively by invitation only. If you’re a financial professional based outside of Singapore and are interested, please request to join at https://goo.gl/TNk9R5