AicA | Alliance of Inter-Continental Accountants

Global member - Singapore


Singapore is a well-established and diversified one of Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore). In just over four decades, Singapore has established a thriving financial centre of international repute, serving not only its domestic economy, but also the wider Asia Pacific region and in some instances, the world. Singapore’s financial centre offers a broad range of financial services including banking, insurance, investment banking and treasury services.

A key aspect of Singapore’s financial centre is its deep and liquid capital markets. With one of the more well-estalished capital markets in Asia-Pacific, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is the preferred listing location of close to 800 global companies. Today, Singapore has grown to be the largest Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs) market in Asia ex-Japan and also provides an extensive offering of investments in business trusts of shipping, aviation and infrastructure assets.

Singapore is a leading provider of services such as international banking, trade finance, maritime finance, insurance, treasury operations, and asset and wealth management within the region. Singapore is the fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world after London, New York and Tokyo.

As one of the top fourth in the world’s leading Global financial centres, Singapore is also the second largest over-the-counter derivatives trading centre in Asia, and a leading commodities derivatives trading hub. There are over 121 commercial banks with over 115 foreign banks and 3 representative office of banks in Singapore. All of which play an active role in banking and finance. With total assets under management of around S$1.2 trillion, and which continues to see steady growth, Singapore is also recognized as one of the premier asset management location in Asia.

Companies based in Singapore can tap the diverse capital markets and cutting-edge financial services from more than 500 local and foreign financial institutions here. In addition, there are over 4,500 companies offering professional services, including audit, accounting and management consulting; market research, advertising and public relations, human capital services; and legal services.

Singapore is also fast emerging as an optimal destination for the centralization of services or ‘shared services’. Centralizing activities such IT, finance, and logistics, offers benefits such as lower operating costs, consistent service levels and enhanced productivity.

Global businesses will find it advantageous to site their headquarters in Singapore. Strong trade and investment makes the most competitive Asian country (Global Competitiveness Report 2008). The World Bank also ranks the Republic as the world’s easiest place to do business (Doing Business 2009 Report).

The Official Languages in Singapore are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil due to multi-races religions. English is the first language of the nation. 80% of Singaporeans are literate in English as either their first or second language. Chinese Mandarin is the next commonly spoken, followed by Malay and Tamil.

As an international financial centre, Singapore offers Company a pro-business environment, excellent infrastructure, cost-competitiveness, a highly skilled and cosmopolitan labour force, and is strategically located in a region of opportunies.

Strategic location in a Region of Opportunities

Singapore is strategically located in a region of opportunities located at the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore is well placed to serve the fast-growing markets of the Asia-Pacific region. Financial institution in Singapore also trade around-the-clock with Asia-Pacific centres, as well as European and American centres, making Singapore a significant hub for 24-hour trading in foreign exchange and securities. International travel is equally convenient. Singapore has grown to be a strategic link and important gateway for global investors.

Singapore seeks to ensure its relevance and connectivity to growth markets, not just in Asia but also beyond. As part of this initiative, Singapore has concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with major economies, including the United States, China, Japan, India, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Jordan. There are ongoing FTA talks with other countries. These FTAs provide privileged access to the markets of partner countries. Beyond the immediate region, Singapore is also building linkages with countries further a filed including the Middle East, capitalizing on the growing trade and investment interests between these two regions.

Cost competitiveness

Singapore offers company a competitive tax rate environment. Singapore’s corporate tax rate of 17% is one of the lowest in Asia-Pacific. Singapore also offers the advantage of having a comprehensive network of Double Tax Agreement with more than 60 countries. Singapore also continues to be cost competitive compared with other major cities. Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Rebate / SME Cash Grant and tax incentives / exemptions are granted to all companies (ie resident and non-resident) in Singapore subject to meeting the prescribed conditions. More supports are given to SMEs for technology innovation. These initiatives will further expand SMEs’ innovation capacity, and increase their competitiveness and profit potential.

Clean environment and Stable Political Environment

Singapore is ranked 5th in the world and 1st in Asia for having the least corruption in its economy. Singapore is ranked the most transparent country in the world and Asia. A stable political structure with parliamentary democracy, a well-established judicial system, and the presence of strong domestic institutions with good corporate governance practices, have made the Singapore business environment even more attractive to global investors. Investors have also come to appreciate the high levels of transparency and reliability in business, economic and regulatory affairs in Singapore.

Singapore is the one of the Asian country with a “AAA” rating sovereign credit rating with a stable outlook despite the recent economic recession and the Eurozone debt crisis.

Excellent Infrastructure

Singapore’s unique location and sophisticated telecommunications network allow financial institutions here to transact business with any part of the world within the same working day. International travel out of Singapore is equally convenient, with more than 84 international airlines operating scheduled services through Singapore to more than 180 cities in 57 countries worldwide. Singapore has a robust and efficient legal and judicial framework and a well-regulated international financial sector.

Skilled Workforce and Attraction of Talents

Singapore also has skilled workforce to meet industry demand. In addition to grooming the local workforce meet the demand of the industry, Singapore also has an open door policy to international talent and expertise. Washington-based risk consultancy agency, Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI), has rated Singapore’s workforce as the world’s best workers since 1980. According to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2010, Singapore’s labour regulations are also the most business conductive in Asia.