28 Jun 2018

Community - People

Building a Strong Culture 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). In this feature, we speak to Deborah Ho, BlackRock’s Head of Southeast Asia, to find out more about the company’s success factors, and her advice for young professionals keen on joining the local financial services sector.



Contributed by Deborah Ho, BlackRock’s Head of Southeast Asia

Deborah Ho is Managing Director and Head of South East Asia for BlackRock. Based in Singapore, Deborah is responsible for a wide-ranging portfolio in markets across South East Asia. This includes delivering the breadth and depth of BlackRock’s capabilities to clients in the region.

Deborah has over 25 years of experience in financial services. Prior to joining Blackrock, she was co-head of Senior Relationship Management at Barclays. Previous to that, she was Chief Executive Officer for DBS Asset Management in Singapore. Deborah has also spent many years in the Fixed Income space and build the fixed income distribution business in Non-Japan Asia at UBS and at JP Morgan.

1. BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world. What do you think its ingredients for success are?


BlackRock was founded 30 years ago and is still considered a relatively young company. The most important success factor has been our unwavering commitment to BlackRock’s principles. These include our fiduciary duty to clients and the passion to drive performance and innovation, as well as a “One BlackRock” approach to everything we do.


Our long-term sustainability depends on our people – the greatest asset of the firm. We operate as a global firm, with 14,000 employees in 30 different countries who speak more than 100 languages. We also serve millions of clients from different cultures around the world. We are deeply committed to cultivating and advancing diversity and inclusion in all forms across our organisation because we believe a wide range of perspectives and talent is crucial to creating a richer culture for our employees and a better experience for our clients.


2. Tell us more about the strategy and aspiration of BlackRock in Southeast Asia, which you head.


One of the most important priorities for BlackRock today and in the future is building on our presence in high-growth markets around the world, particularly Asia. The Southeast Asian region is regarded as the world’s next growth engine after China. According to a recent report from Deloitte, the ten economies that make up ASEAN are projected to constitute the fourth largest economy in the world by 2025*. Southeast Asia’s demographics, along with its economic and regulatory attributes such as high savings rates and rapid household financial asset growth, will create significant opportunities for BlackRock over time.


The strength of our culture has significantly contributed to our success, and our commitment to continually fostering an inclusive and diversified environment that attracts and retains top talent will propel BlackRock and its clients forward for years to come. We will continue to embrace a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds and insights from our employees to inspire innovation, challenge the status quo and create better outcomes for both our employees and our clients.


3. As a highly successful executive, what advice would you give to young professionals looking to follow in your footsteps?


Something I have realised as a mother is kids never listen to advice from their parents. So, if I were to speak to young people who are interested joining in the financial services sector, I would say:


  1. Define your own success. What’s right for one person might not be right for another. Have the courage to be honest with yourself and determine what’s right for you. Spend time on introspection. It will come in handy over time.

  2. Financial services is going through tremendous change. Be prepared to reinvent yourself more than once during your career.

  3. Stay true to your values. True happiness is being able to connect the work you do to what is truly important to you. Develop a sense of purpose.  

4. In your view, what is the value of an overseas work experience and how does this benefit the development of the local financial services industry?


Living overseas is always a fruitful experience. Learning how to interact and understand people from different cultures and backgrounds is increasingly important in a world that’s becoming more connected. This experience is particularly useful in the local financial services industry because the success often depends on availability of talent. Talent comes from everywhere. Being able to collaborate well with others is also important. BlackRock Singapore comprises some 23 nationalities. Such diversity adds to the fun and richness of living and working here. We also believe diversity of thought is critical to our success.




About BlackRock


BlackRock helps investors build better financial futures. As a fiduciary to its clients, the firm provides the investment and technology solutions they need when planning for their most important goals. As of March 31, 2018, BlackRock managed approximately US$6.317 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide. For more information, please visit  


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 interested in Financial Services, please request to join at


*Source: Capturing the multi-trillion dollar asset management opportunity in Southeast Asia - Monitor Deloitte


Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.