September marked the first anniversary for our Singapore office and a lot has been achieved in the short time since its launch. All around the Singapore central business district new skyscrapers have been springing out of the ground with stunning and inspirational architecture. Growth in the jurisdiction has continued in the fiduciary sector with a number of new trust licences being issued in recent months taking the total to 58 and corporate activity continues apace reflecting the evolution and globalisation of business activities.
With change comes opportunity and businesses that Enhance works with in other jurisdictions continue to follow the trend of entering and/or expanding their activities in Asia.
Some of these businesses happen to have particularly close ties with Jersey, where Enhance has its headquarters. Kensington Trust Group, which has a strategic alliance with JTC Group, is among the organisations that recently received a Singapore trust licence. Towards the end of last year Bedell acquired a majority stake in Singapore Trust Company Pte Ltd. At the time of writing it is understood that there are also additional firms with Jersey links applying for a trust licence and others that are looking to complete on mergers and acquisitions.
With such a wide spectrum of business activities, Singapore has excellent conferences and seminars. Richard Sayers has been kept busy presenting to the Singapore Trustees Association, The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments and will be representing the business at the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Asia Conference, which is taking place in Hong Kong in November.
Since arriving in Singapore there have also been some economic headwinds; the first 4-months saw the crude oil price fall from over $50 to below $30 per barrel, having been over $100 for the preceding few years. It has now recovered to nearer to $50 again but this has had an impact on the sector. Shipping, another important sector, has been under pressure due to the global economic environment and specifically lower demand for coal and iron ore from China and India.
The recent Singapore Trustees Association Conference; “Trustees in Transparent Times” focused on the impact of the Global Account Tax Compliance Act (GATCA) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which have had a dramatic impact on financial service activities. Meanwhile the fintech sector continues to grab headlines as Singapore races Hong Kong to become Asia’s leading fintech hub while the regulator considers how best to deal with the rate of evolution.
One of Asia’s leading financial service institutions, the Bank of Singapore has supported the new Trustee Managed Portfolio Asia Indices and the service will be expanding to provide a powerful resource to the private client sector in the region.