Why a risk role at GIC is so much more
Buy-side returns. Multiple asset classes. Global reach. One enterprise risk professional explains how a role at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund propelled exponential growth.
Recent times have seen geopolitical tensions, rapid tech advancements and business disruption create significant turbulence in the global macroeconomy. While investors watch these developments every day closely to protect their bank balances, risk expert, Wei, does the same – except her efforts are to safeguard the resources of a nation.
A senior vice president at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Wei – alongside the organisation’s chief investment officers, portfolio managers, and economists – discuss economic cycles, geopolitical events, and market movements, such as changes in central bank rates.
“I was involved in discussions to stress test the capabilities of the GIC Portfolio and shift its asset allocation in a material way in response to the changing global macroeconomic environment,” she says. “I also engage in quantitative strategies, some of which lead the market and market trends. Data is everywhere, but what sets you apart is your ability to make sense of it and form your own unique insights.”
GIC’s Risk & Performance Management Department is responsible for the independent assessment, measurement, monitoring, and reporting of GIC’s market, credit, and operational risk profiles. Wei works in the Enterprise Risk & Performance team where she manages the risk levels of the organisation’s top-of-house portfolios by providing an independent and objective view of investment risk and performance drivers for the GIC Portfolio, to ensure all relevant risks are duly considered and addressed.
Risk professionals in the team take on various job scopes – spanning the application of data science to analyse a portfolio’s risk profile, to tracking macroeconomic and political risks.
“The complexity at the total portfolio level is significant. This poses both challenges and excitement around risk management and portfolio optimisation,” Wei says. “Our work is incredibly impactful – our assessments and recommendations have the potential to make a huge difference for the organisation and our stakeholders, and there is a sense of mission to safeguard the nation's reserves.”
“For me, this is a huge motivator to go deeper and push myself further, knowing that the work I do can truly make a difference.”
Great big opportunities
Prior to GIC, Wei was a market risk manager at a large global bank, covering its Asia Pacific credit business. But she sought a more meaningful role with broader exposure to asset classes, and robust career development opportunities.
In particular, she was keen to move from the single-asset, “more regulation-driven” sell-side environment to a buy-side asset manager post.
The latter offers enterprise risk talents a platform to expand their advice from risk alone, to include appropriate estimated returns.
The diversified GIC Portfolio also offers buy-side risk professionals the opportunity to work with multiple asset classes, ranging from equities and bonds to real estate and infrastructure.
Wei’s proudest project thus far is an enhanced risk currency framework that helps the organisation better manage portfolio currency risks. To achieve this, she mastered the varying structures and data availability of assets to understand the unique implications of diverse investment processes and theses.
“I had the opportunity to learn about new instruments, assets, and portfolio management strategies,” she says. “These challenges were a source of fascination and growth.”
GIC’s status as a sovereign wealth fund was also a major draw. While the organisation tracks real return targets, its main mandate is to preserve the international purchasing power of Singapore and grow the wealth of the country.
This translates to longer-term investment horizons and strategies, greater diversification across asset classes and geographies, and an additional, meaningful goal of securing the nation's financial future.
With as vast and varied a portfolio as GIC’s, enterprise risk talents are constantly upskilled and groomed to become well-rounded risk managers equipped with not just hard skills, but also soft skills critical to success in the workplace.
For example, given the organisation’s large, fast evolving multi-asset portfolio, risk managers not only need to dive deep into developments, but also display agility in switching gears across asset classes. On top of quantitative and technical mastery, they need to write and articulate arguments, and present well.
To support the success of employees, GIC leverages its unique international standing to empower teams to participate in exclusive deals and collaborate with other global institutions.
This provides talent with insights, experience, and knowledge of diverse investment strategies across international markets. “New types of products, new modelling methodologies and new investment trends all require continuous learning,” says Wei.
She has also attended courses at the organisation’s career development institute, GIC School, to develop both soft and hard skills across coding, people management, teamwork, and navigating work-life balance.
“These skills are particularly valuable as we progress into more senior roles and navigate complex team dynamics and competing priorities,” she says. “I wanted to work for a company that invests in its employees and gives them the tools they need to succeed.”
Beyond this, she sees her greatest source of learning as engaging with a strong, collaborative team. Lively debates with colleagues often turn out far more productive than reading financial news sources, Wei notes. “No matter how experienced you are, there is always someone out there who can challenge you and push you to be better.”
“I’m glad I made the decision to join this incredible organisation,” she adds. “With a humble mindset and a desire for self-improvement, there is no limit to how far you can go.”
Work at the Point of Impact. Learn more at GIC.CAREERS.