By SGN & MAS | 30 Sept 2021
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) turns 50 this year. Prior to 1970, the various functions associated with a central bank were performed by several government agencies. As Singapore progressed, there was a streamlining of functions to facilitate the development of a more dynamic and coherent policy on monetary matters – and, in 1971, the MAS was formed!
Other than being the central bank and financial regulator, MAS also manages the official foreign reserves and develops the financial sector. The MAS has overseas representative offices in New York, London, Beijing and Shanghai.
Find out more about the team at MAS’ New York office.
Wait, the MAS has an office in New York? What do you guys do?
Chin Wee/Nada: The New York office has been around for more than 30 years. We work with partners in North America to promote and develop Singapore as a dynamic international financial centre. The New York office supports the teams responsible for different asset classes – be it bringing new financial products and players to Singapore, learning from best-in-class practices in North America, getting insights from the ground to inform policy making, or exploring partnerships to deepen expertise and develop our workforce. We stay in touch with the Singapore office via regular conference calls and email updates. Key areas we are currently working on include sustainable finance, FinTech, and building out the family office and philanthropy ecosystem in Singapore.
Chong Yang/Ethel: On the reserve management side, we manage our US bond portfolios and our developed markets FX and equities exposure out of the New York office. We also share market colour and market moving news overnight with the team in Singapore, and manage our relationships with our North American counterparties. To stay up to date with portfolio strategy, we have weekly calls with the Singapore office and they will leave us with trade orders daily, if any.
What was it like moving to New York from Singapore during the pandemic?
Chin Wee: It was stressful, especially with a 10-month old baby in tow. Initially, we couldn’t enjoy the city as much, but things are certainly looking up now (fingers crossed).
Nada: It was an adventure to sleep/eat/work/watch Netflix on my sofa for 3 weeks, which was the only piece of furniture I had ordered that was delivered on time! I did manage to take a solo photo with the Charging Bull at Wall Street though (because of the lack of tourists)!
Chong Yang: The travel restrictions meant that we were on our own with two boys, and having to move 10 pieces of luggage from JFK to our hotel and then to our apartment was super challenging. The jetlag was very bad for the boys – which added to the overall stress for the parents. But now that it’s over, we are all ready to enjoy the city!
Ethel: Economic and human pain aside, it was great! I had 19 hours of peace and quiet on an empty flight and immigration clearance was a breeze. I also managed to visit touristy spots in New York without having to jostle with people for a good picture!
What is the dish from Singapore that you miss the most and have you managed to recreate it in NYC?
Chin Wee: Lor Mee. The one from Old Airport Road with freshly fried fish and roe. I am not capable of recreating that taste, so I won’t even try.
Nada: I tried to make chicken rice in my Instant Pot. I’m not about to set up Nada Tong Kee in NYC, but it hit the spot…
Chong Yang: Too many! I would randomly think about cooking Hokkien mee, kway chup and lor mee, but once I think about how to actually cook them, I would give up that thought. But I have managed to cook tom yam fried rice and Hong Kong fried noodles which my wife loves.
Ethel: Chilli crab! I haven’t even seen any crabs at the supermarket… so maybe I’ll try to make chilli lobster one day.
What has been the coolest experience that you’ve had in NYC so far?
Chin Wee: Hanging out one day at Battery Park basking in the warm sun on a picnic mat, my baby boy suddenly took his very first steps and walked off on his own.
Nada: A street art tour in Bushwick, where I discovered work by a Singaporean graffiti artist on the wall of an industrial warehouse!
Chong Yang: Rowing a boat with my two sons at Central Park. They both insisted on rowing and almost capsized the boat!
Ethel: When they were filming of the HBO show “Succession” below my apartment!
Where in the US is top on your bucket list to visit?
Chin Wee: Hiking trails and craft beers in Portland.
Nada: Nashville – for the country music and Tennessee whiskey!
Chong Yang: Going for the Disney cruise and visiting Disneyland in Orlando.
Ethel: Yellowstone National Park!