In March 2020, Fred Lai decided to retire at the age of 72 to spend time with his family. He had originally planned to travel around the world after his retirement and visit his daughter in Australia.  Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores and scuppered his travel plans with lockdowns in many countries.

With his retirement plans in disarray, Fred decided to stop idling at home, and seized the opportunity to return to work again. Besides being in good health and having an insatiable appetite to broaden his knowledge, he feels that he has much to contribute to the financial sector. 

Leveraging his experience

Before retiring, Fred had spent a good 18 years in a fund management company where he handled trade settlement of securities instruments as well as liaised directly with brokers, counterparties and third-party service providers.

To tap on his years of experience in fund management, Fred decided to explore job opportunities in the same sector and managed to secure a job as Vice-President of Investments at Singapore Consortium Investment Management Limited (SICIM) in May 2020.

Compared with his previous role where he mainly carried out settlement instructions from front-office analysts and fund managers in the back office, Fred is required to play a more proactive role in his new job. He is very much involved in overseeing the development and enhancement of analytical tools to support investment recommendations. He also supervises analysts in their research on securities, initiates trade settlements as well as ensures the timely preparation and delivery of reports to clients. 

Gaining new skills and capabilities  

Given that this was a new area of work, his employer supported Fred’s career transition by sending him to a Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for the financial sector. Administered by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF), CCP seeks to pre-emptively reskill mid-career Singaporeans to develop new skills and capabilities to take on redesigned job roles or roles in growth areas. By working closely with hiring financial institutions, IBF’s aim is to help mid-careerists and mature employees like Fred have up-to-date and relevant skills for the industry.

Through this programme, Fred gained new skills and knowledge in the areas of Portfolio Management, Corporate Governance and Ethics, and Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) Standards of Reporting which are critical in his current role. In the midst of undergoing CCP, Fred also had to take an industry examination which he was required to pass as part of his job requirements.

Unwavering support from employer

Due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic, Fred was allowed to work from home with shorter working hours to give him time to study for the industry examination. Even now after the pandemic, his employer has given him the flexibility to work from home and he goes to office as and when required. This has saved him time on commuting and to focus more on his work. 

Fred is very grateful to his employer for not only giving him the opportunity to transit to his new role in fund management through the CCP journey, but also for their constant support and encouragement. He hopes to stay in his job as long as his health permits and he can contribute meaningfully to his work. In return, his employer likes to keep an open mind in exploring suitable work arrangements especially for their mature employees. SICIM currently has three other staff who are more than 65 years old.   


Mrs Goh Mui Hong, Executive Director and CEO of SICIM, added, "The company values the diverse range of skills and experience that multi-generational workforce brings. Fred is a very good example as he is now contributing to the front office but is also able to share his years of experience in the back office with the younger team members in the company."  

Staying relevant 

Since joining the company, Fred has progressed in his career by taking on additional responsibility as the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). As CSO, he is involved in proposing and evaluating strategies to address Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns and in overseeing the overall execution of sustainability initiatives implemented by SICIM. This new role has given Fred greater impetus to continue contributing to the company and industry.

Despite his age, Fred has thrived in his career because he has a growth mindset to learn new skills to stay relevant in the industry, coupled with the support of his family and employer.

When asked what keeps him going, Fred said, "Embrace each start of day with a cheerful smile and feel the strength that's around us.”

Fred is indeed an inspiration to many! 

IBF administers the Career Conversion Programme (CCP) which helps mid-careerists to reskill and successfully switch to new roles within the financial services sector. Find out more about CCP here.