These days, Singapore is among the best known global business centers. Its banking sector contributes to more than 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Around 5% of Singapore’s manpower works in the financial sector, making it one of the most profitable sectors in the country.
A few of the many factors that boost the success of the banking industry are:
· A robust set of rules;
· A conducive business ecosystem that attracts foreign entrepreneurs;
· A superior infrastructure;
· Capable human resources including both, regional as well as foreign personnel, forming an international skill pool.
of the banking industry in Singapore lies in its diversity
that comes in the form of the variety of financial services it offers. Loans,
deposits and investments are also
part of its financial services.
All banks are governed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
· With many foreign banks coming up, Singapore has become a key player in the international banking landscape. Continuous competition among local banks led to the birth of unique financial products and a beneficial price regime. Coming together helps local banks grow regionally.
Six local banking groups merged into 3 (UOB, DBS, OCBC) resulting in better activities and capabilities. They became ‘single-window’ banks catering to every possible financial need.
· Liberalization of banks in 1999 gave foreign banks full banking licenses and offshore banks, more freedom in SGD wholesale activities. The limit on foreign shareholding in local banks was withdrawn and restricted banks can carry out wholesale operations.
· Steps taken by the Singapore government have made it a competitive investment center, by releasing approved bonds. A prospering Singapore Exchange has got many foreign companies to do business in the country.
· Focusing on smarter corporate banking from consumer banking has broadened the scope of many popular banks of Singapore.
· Singapore, like some financial offshore centers, has not signed the EU Tax Directive (2005). This directive requires the signatory to disclose some personal details about its overseas depositors/investors. Singapore keeps confidentiality of the interests of its clients at topmost priority.
High net-worth clients in Singapore get lots of sophisticated wealth management services such as tax/state management, asset protection, strategic orientation, credits, lifestyle/wealth advisory and others.
· Focus on SMEs has won reliable business partners for Singapore banks. Small and mid-sized Singapore companies benefit from premium bespoke financial, insurance, investment and loan products, as well as management and trade services. The government offers SMEs with convenient schemes to expand and upgrade their financial operations.
· Capital gain taxes from incomes earned abroad are not taxable in Singapore.
All Singapore banks can be classified into three groups, based on client-type:
· Commercial banks (catering to corporates);
· Consumer banks (catering to local as well as foreign average individuals);
· Private banks (catering to high net-worth persons).
Based on localization and specialization, all Singapore-based banks can be categorized as follows:
Local Banks (6 banks in all, however, we focus on 3 flagship banking groups):
· United Overseas Bank (UOB) is one of Asia-Pacific’s key banks, operating since 1935 with more than 80 billion SGD assets in hand. It is also known as Singapore’s “Best Overall Fund Group”.
· Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) is Singapore’s largest consumer bank with more than 80 branches across the country and also a strong presence in Hong Kong. In 2008, DBS was ranked 14th (by The Banker) among 200 Asian banks.
· Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), actively operating since 1912, has assets worth more than 190 billion SGD. In 2008, it was rated as the best regional bank by the Asia Risk End-User Research.
Overseas Banks (117 in all) can be categorized as:
· Full Banks – one-stop setups with every type of banking services possible for both corporate clients and individuals. Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas, and Maybank top the charts in this category.
· Offshore Banks – are branches/subsidiaries of Asian overseas banks that conduct banking operations via foreign currency units. SGD transactions happen via the domestic banking unit, but they are slightly in comparison with wholesale banks. A few offshore banks are Korea Development Bank, Bank of New Zealand, Bank of Taiwan, and so on.
· Wholesale Banks – are branches of foreign banks that offer all types of banking services, except SGD retail operations. A few such banks are National Australia Bank, Deutsche Bank, or ING Bank.
· Merchant Banks – manage corporate finances, do underwriting (subscription to bonds and shares for providing them to investors), strategic investments, the union of firms and other business/investment services. Merchant banks work with numerous Asian currency divisions. However, when working with a domestic banking unit, these banks are allowed to borrow or accept deposits only from banks, financial entities or corporates run by shareholders. Instances of these types of banks are Barclays Merchant Bank Singapore Ltd or Credit Suisse Singapore Ltd.
· Financial Companies are licensed institutions allowed to give or provide loans to purchase vehicles or property. They have their limitations when it comes to receiving deposits and are not permitted to extend loans of more than 5k SGD without security, or transact in foreign exchange, valuable metals, or stake in foreign currency (except for companies with paid-up capital exceeding 10 million SGD). There are only 3 financial companies in SG: Singapura Finance Ltd, Hong Leong Finance Limited, and Sing Investments and Finance Limited.
The banking sector in Singapore is administered by just one authority – the Monetary Authority of Singapore – frames the island-estate’s financial policy, controls banks/financial institutions and releases domestic currency – the Singaporean Dollar. Appropriate acts, general law and equity rules regulate the banking sector:
· The Banking Act is the major legal instrument that lays out the country’s banking principles and the banking operations that are permissible (non-financial activities are banned since 2001);
· Securities and Futures Act
· Rulings against money laundering
· Financial Advisors Act
· Several Singapore banks require the presence of the new company’s directors (or other empowered signatories) for bank account paperwork. At times, if the bank has a branch in the country where the director resides, then there are provisions to accept documents in this foreign branch. However, physical presence quickens the process.
· SGD account fees differ from bank to bank (from 0 SGD in Standard Chartered Bank or OCBC to 7k SGD for some kinds of bank account services in HSBC). The fee is also based on the company’s legal pattern and its line of business.
· The account opening balance differs from bank to bank (30k SGD/30k USD in Standard Chartered or 300k SGD/100k USD in HSBC).
· All Singapore banks do not provide ATM cards (for instance, HSBC does, while Standard Chartered and Citibank don’t).
· All banks provide Cheque books in SGD. Precise knowledge about USD cheque books, from the respective bank is essential.
· For credit cards, banks usually have tailor-made solutions for every corporate entity, for both, domestic and foreign currency. For example, Standard Chartered and OCBC only provide debit cards; Citibank, DBS, UOB, or HSBC also provide credit cards (for local and foreign currency) though conditions apply.
· Every bank provides condition-based Internet banking with both, local and foreign payments.
· While providing business loans to companies, banks take into account the company’s background, headcount and capital stock among others.
· Essential documents to be submitted are:
Singapore is a happening market that makes it one of the best in the world, for banks to build their brand and to broaden their scope.
Government backing and measures have attracted many foreign banks to have their branches in Singapore.
The island-estate’s geography is perfect for banks to connect with Asia’s most lucrative markets. Thus, Singapore is called a banking hub.
If this article makes you ready and willing to set up a business in Singapore, contact us to guide you right through your banking needs with services you can trust and quality that never disappoints.
The Singapore Registry of Ships makes it easy and fast for you to register your ship in Singapore. Once all relevant documents have been submitted, ship registration will be completed within two hours, and there will be various benefits if registered as a Singapore ship. Relevant Act ∙ Regulation - Merchant Shipping Act - Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) 1996 Procedure for ship registration Step 1. Check eligibility for ship registration in Singapore Step 2. Prepare application form - Approval for vessel's name - Apply for vessel’s official number and call sign / signal letters Step 3. Submit the relevant documents for provisional or permanent registration Step 4. Pay the initial registration fee and annual tonnage tax Step 5. Vessel Registered Prerequisites for registration Owner Only the following persons may be registered as owners of Singapore vessels: 1. Citizens / Permanent Residents (PRs) of Singapore 2. Companies incorporated in Singapore A vessel may be registered under the ownership of a foreign, or a locally owned, Singapore incorporated company 1) A foreign owned company is a company incorporated in Singapore in which more than 50% of its equity is owned by non-citizens of Singapore 2) A local owned company is a company incorporated in Singapore in which more than 50% of its equity is owned by citizens of Singapore, or by another local owned company Vessel Generally, ships less than 17 years would be considered for registration Provisional registration The Provisional Certificate is valid for a maximum period of one year with no possibility of extension. The vessel must be transferred to the permanent register before the end of this period. Documents to be submitted for Provisional Registration: - Application Form - Business Profile reported to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Appointment of A Manager Owners must appoint a manager whose residence is in Singapore. All communications relating to the vessel will be directed to the manager. The manager will be responsible for the operations of the vessel for all matters related to the crew, safety and prevention of pollution. ∙ An individual owner may appoint himself as the manager. ∙ A corporate owner may appoint a person in the company to be the vessel’s manager. ∙ If a company is appointed as the vessel’s manager instead, the name of the person in the company with the ultimate responsibility for the vessel and his status in the company must be clearly indicated. If there is any change in the manager, the owner must complete a new appointment of manager form and submit it to the Registrar within 7 days of the change. Evidence of Ownership - (New vessel) A copy of the Builder’s Certificate - (Existing vessel) A copy of the Bill of Sale or the transcript of its former registry, or any other similar document that can demonstrate its ownership Value of the Vessel The owner must declare the value of the vessel in Singapore dollars under the company’s letterhead if this is not already reflected in the other documents submitted (i.e. Bill of Sale). Tonnage Certificate All vessels must have their tonnages determined in accordance with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Tonnage) Regulations (which gives effect to the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TM 69)). A tonnage certificate may be issued by the MPA’s Shipping Division or any of the classification societies authorized by the MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) to do so. Class Certificate Class certificate may be accepted as evidence of seaworthiness. - (New vessel) Interim class certificate or Statement of entry - (Existing vessel) Statement of class maintained Tax benefits of SRS (Singapore Registry of Ships) To encourage companies to develop businesses in Singapore, ship registry offers benefits to Singapore-registered vessels. Withholding Tax (WHT) Exemption To further promote the growth of the maritime sector, qualifying shipping enterprises will enjoy automatic WHT exemption on interest and related payments made in respect of arrangements obtained to finance the purchase or construction of vessels, or the purchase of containers and intermodal equipment. Tax exemption Profits derived from the operation of a Singapore vessel are exempt from Singapore income tax. Singapore shipping industry Singapore registry of ships Source: MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) BY NUMBER BY '000 GT 2008 3,843 43,702 2009 3,950 45,632 2010 3,978 48,783 2011 4,111 57,360 2012 4,232 65,018 2013 4,379 73,615 2014 4,595 82,249 2015 4,739 86,300 2016 4,717 88,023 2017 4,578 88,808 2018 4,456 90,944 2019 Jan 4,468 92,133 Feb 4,469 92,486 Mar 4,472 93,075 Apr 4,471 93,926 May 4,465 95,411 Jun 4,460 95,808 Jul 4,461 96,234 Aug 4,447 96,116 Sep 4,446 96,885 Oct 4,463 97,736 Vessel Arrivals Source: MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) BY NUMBER BY '000 GT 2008 131,695 1,621,065 2009 130,575 1,784,669 2010 127,299 1,919,408 2011 127,998 2,120,282 2012 130,422 2,254,353 2013 139,417 2,326,121 2014 134,883 2,371,107 2015 132,922 2,504,155 2016 138,998 2,662,695 2017 145,147 2,799,585 2018 140,768 2,791,966 2019 Jan 11,678 248,250 Feb 10,275 214,560 Mar 11,509 229,405 Apr 11,243 226,032 May 11,697 235,454 Jun 11,138 227,457 Jul 11,554 238,851 Aug 11,739 236,774 Sep 11,547 244,462 Oct 12,026 250,282 ▶ The largest container ports worldwide in 2018, based on throughput (in million TEUs) Largest container ports worldwide - by volume of cargo handled 2018 The port of Shanghai was the largest container port in 2018, handling containers with a capacity of 42 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU). In 2018, nine out of the ten busiest container ports were located in Asia. The world's largest container ports The busiest container ports in Asia include Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In the United States, the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach form the largest container hub in the country. The cities of Rotterdam, Hamburg, and Antwerp are home to the largest ports in Europe. The world's largest container terminals Singapore’s PSA International is ranked among the world’s leading marine terminal operators, followed by Hutchison Port Holdings, which is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands. PSA International operates several ports around the world, generating about four billion Singapore dollars in revenue in 2018. If you have any questions about Singapore company incorporation and investment, please contact us via Contact Us page. We will provide you with a variety of solutions for efficient business operations as well as practical advice on legal requirements.read more
The Employment Pass (EP) is a work permit scheme aimed at skilled overseas employees with professional expertise, managers, and company directors who want to work and live in Singapore. This article spreads out specific information on the EP, including the overall perspective, criteria to apply for employment pass and registering a company and applying for an employment pass. Employment Pass – The Overall Perspective The Employment Pass (EP) is meant for expats who work as officers, managers and qualified experts in Singapore. First-ever applicants may get an EP for the first two years, following which it can get a renewal for a maximum of three years at one go. The EP is assigned to persons having employment offers, inclusive of a monthly salary of at least SG$3,600 (US$2.629). Aspirants with higher experience are offered more salaries so that they are eligible for this work visa. Nominees that have been offered a salary of SG$6,000 (US$4,383) or more per month, qualify to apply for a dependent’s pass for their legitimate spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 years to be with them in Singapore. Applicants keen on bringing their parents, common-law spouse, or stepchildren should file an application for the Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP).The requirements are similar to those for dependent’s pass, nevertheless, only those with a minimum fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 (US$8,768) are eligible to get their parents into the country. No foreign employee tax or quota is allowed for this particular work permit. Additionally, it takes a maximum of 5 weeks to process EP applications. This process takes three weeks if done online. Conditions to Apply for Employment Pass Employment Pass in Singapore - Eligible or Not You qualify to file an application for an Employment Pass for Singapore, provided you fulfil all the conditions given below: You will work as a manager, an executive or a professional. You will fulfil the least Employment Pass salary conditions: If your work experience is less or you are a fresh graduate, your salary must be at least S$3,600. If you are older and more experienced, the EP lowest monthly salary benchmark will be higher. It is compulsory to be sufficiently qualified, such as having a university diploma, special competencies, or specialized skills. The Ministry of Manpower takes a call on whether an applicant fulfils the conditions of a Singapore Employment Pass. There are no approved institutes where you can take up work. Rather, the MOM considers other standards to determine your eligibility to get the EP, for instance, your employer’s ratings and labor standards, or your own requisite skills. If you are considering applying for the EP, you may undertake an assessment test the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) on MOM’s website for determining whether you qualify or not. Fill in your details, your employment track record, education, and your prospective salary. The tool will let you know if you fulfil the requirements for the Employment Pass or any other pass. Documents Required for the Employment Pass While applying for a Singapore Employment Pass, the following supporting documents are a must: Filled Application Form for Employment Pass that can be downloaded from the MOM’s website. It must have yours (the foreign employee) and your employer’s (or an authorized person from the company) signatures. It must have the hiring company’s stamp. Photocopy of your passport’s personal information page and the issue/expiry date. Your academic certifications, like diplomas and degree qualifications. Corroboration for your academic certifications and paperwork, available at Dataflow or other worldwide verification authorities. At times, a notary certificate is not sufficient. If you are a Chinese citizen, a verification from China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center or China Academic Degrees & Graduate Education Information will suffice. The latest resume. Fresh passport-size photograph, according to the Singapore photo criterion. Copy of your prospective employer’s business profile. A narrative of your job responsibilities/duties. Letter of Support or Registration from a Registration Agency, Professional Body, or Accreditation Agency. On the basis of occupation, these letters of support can be availed from the following professional associations: Singapore Medical Council (Doctors) Singapore Dental Council (Dentists) Allied Health Professions Council (Diagnostic radiographers, Occupational therapists, Physiotherapists, Radiation therapists, Speech therapist) Singapore Nursing Board (Nurses) Singapore Pharmacy Council (Pharmacists) Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board (TCM Practitioners) Legal Services Regulatory Authority (Lawyers) Sport Singapore (Football player or coach) For the staff members of an eatery setup: A copy of the license from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). Additional Documents Required In addition to the already mentioned documents, when you apply to get your Employment Pass issued, you will need to present: Your passport details. Details about your Short-Term Visit Pass or immigration pass. Your address of residence in Singapore. Your Embarkation/Disembarkation Card. If required: A medical examination form or a health declaration form. (As mentioned in the IPA letter, you will require a medical checkup. This must be done in Singapore.) Your IPA letter. Remember that those who process your application have the right to ask for further papers after they have the application. Documents in a language other than English are required to be translated into English. A scheme for registering a company and applying for employment pass Company Establishment + Employment Pass Application Service In the case of foreigner business professional inclined to start a company and move to Singapore to manage its operations, the following criteria need to be met: 1. Incorporation of a Singapore company 2. Acquiring a Singapore Employment Pass work visa Singapore Company Setup Requirements · A local registered office address · 1 resident director · At least 1 shareholder · 1 company secretary · A paid-up capital of at least S$1 In the case of foreigner business professional inclined to start a company and move to Singapore to manage its operations, the following criteria need to be met: 1. Pearson & Partners can help you set up your Singapore company and we can help you hire a resident nominee director as a provisional solution, till you get your Employment Pass 2. Submit your Employment Pass application 3. Transfer the directorship after receiving your Employment Pass 4. Move to Singapore and initiate your business Conclusion So essentially, the Employment Pass (EP) is a primary form of work visa that the Singapore government has for qualified professionals, executives, managers, owners and directors keen on taking up specialty positions in Singapore. We are a registered filing agent who provides custom-build solutions to new businesses in Singapore. If you are employing foreign workers and if you have questions regarding Singapore work visa, contact us for further info. We can help you with all company registration issues, in addition to applying for a work pass without you being physically present in Singapore.read more