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Issue No. 95

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20 HOTTEST

STARTUPS

FINANCIAL AND MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY FIRMS LEAD SINGAPORE’S MOST ELIGIBLE IN 2021 VENTURE CAPITAL FLIES INTO COVID-SAFE SINGAPORE E-COMMERCE HELPS STAVE OFF RETAIL DISASTER MBA PROGRAMMES IN DECLINE, BUT STUDENT NUMBERS STABLE TOP INSURERS BOLSTERED BY PRE-PANDEMIC GROWTH SURGE 88 73

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FROM THE EDITOR About Us

The economy is still reeling from the blows of the COVID-19 pandemic, but businesses are doing their best. For this issue of Singapore Business Review, we look into Singapore’s recovery story, the new normal, and the future generation of business leaders.

AUDITED CIRCULATION: 23,116 ONLINE READERSHIP: 410,000 monthly uniques through Google Analytics The Singapore Business Review is the highest circulating and best read business magazine in Singapore. Our online readership has an average of 215,000 unique viewers, according to Google Analytics. We won the Business Trade Media of the Year Award at the 2017 MPAS Awards. Do reach out to us if you would like us to tell your story to our readers via print & online advertising or events. PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tim Charlton MANAGING EDITOR Paul Howell PRODUCTION EDITOR Janine Ballesteros PRODUCTION TEAM Frances Gagua Beatrix Malesido Djan Magbanua GRAPHIC ARTIST Mark Simon Engracial II ADVERTISING CONTACT Aileen Cruz aileen@charltonmediamail.com Karisse Coderes karisse@charltonmediamail.com Reiniela Hernandez reiniela@charltonmediamail.com ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT accounts@charltonmediamail.com

Slowly and steadily, businesses are standing up. The lion city’s COVID-19 resilience is attracting even more venture capitalists. Despite hurdles in startup investments in 2020, the VC scene is seen rising in 2021 as VCs travel to Singapore to build their base. Read more about this on page 12. Further, startups are paving the way for the future, supported by a strong academic base. Check out our annual Hottest Startups list for 2021 and MBA Providers and Programmes survey on pages 30 and 42, respectively. This issue also features the winners of the recently concluded Management Excellence Awards, Made and Designed in Singapore, and Asian Export Awards, all held digitally via virtual presentations. Head over to page 48, 54, and 58 for the full list of winners. Enjoy the issue!

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CONTENTS

28

COVER STORY RISE OF AI START-UPS: “OLD SCHOOL” SECTORS CAN’T HIDE FROM DIGITALISATION

INDUSTRY BRIEFING

FIRST 08 No peak in sight: Condo resale prices

16 Will the Monetary Authority of Singapore allow single family offices

maintain their surge through 2021

to manage VCCs?

09 Inflation returns to local prices 10 ACTS to quicken movement of

18 Consumers ‘extremely receptive’ to contextually relevant ads

shipped goods

FINANCIAL INSIGHT

20 Agile workforces: How companies responded to the COVID employment

12 Singapore’s COVID-19 resilience is

22

INDUSTRY INSIGHT CROSS-BORDER E-COMMERCE SALES WILL PROVIDE KEY TO RETAIL SECTOR RECOVERY

EVENT COVERAGE 48 SBR Management Excellence Awards 2020 recognises top executives and firms

54 SBR hails the most innovative products and solutions of 2020

58 Asian Export Awards 2020 commends leading exporters in the region

crisis

attracting even more venture capitalists

SPACE WATCH

12

FINANCIAL INSIGHT SINGAPORE’S COVID-19 RESILIENCE IS ATTRACTING EVEN MORE VENTURE CAPITALISTS

COUNTRY REPORT 26 Australia weathers the COVID-19

14 BBC Studios reveals new Singapore

crisis

location

Published Quarterly on the Second week of the Month by Charlton Media Group 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building 2 SINGAPORE JUNE 2021 2018 SingaporeBUSINESS 069533 REVIEW | MARCH

For the latest business news from Singapore visit the website

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Top Employers APAC 2021 Congratulations to the certified Top Employers 2021 in the APAC Region as well as those certified as Top Employers in Singapore.To see the full list in your country as well as around the globe, visit www.top-employers.com or scan the QR code to go straight to the 2021 APAC Top Employers list.

SINGAPURA

Top Employers Institute is the global authority on recognising excellence in People Practices. We help accelerate these practices to enrich the world of work. Through the Top Employers Institute Certification Programme, participating companies can be validated, certified and recognised as an employer of choice. Established 30 years ago, Top Employers Institute has certified over 1 691 organisations in 120 countries/regions. These certified Top Employers positively impact the lives of over 7 million employees globally. Top Employers Institute. For a better world of work. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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News from sbr.com.sg Daily news from Singapore MOST READ

HR & EDUCATION

Singaporeans show low level of enthusiasm at work Singapore falls behind globally in terms of employee engagement or their level of enthusiasm with their jobs, scoring only 47% or below the worldwide average of 53%, according to a study by experience management firm Qualtrics. The city lagged behind India (79%), Thailand (72%) and Hong Kong (63%). However, it outpaced Japan (35%) and South Korea (40%), which registered the lowest scores.

TELECOM & INTERNET

Bharti Airtel could counter Singtel’s enterprise business: analysts Singtel’s India associate Bharti Airtel is expected to offset the weaknesses of the telco’s other associates, particularly in Singapore and Australia. RHB noted that the price repair in India continues to bode well for Airtel as its average revenue per user (APRU) went up 5.3% QoQ. In a separate note by DBS, the firm’s turnaround aided by sharp tariff-hike in December 2019 is likely to add over $500m to associates’ FY21F profit.

AVIATION, FOOD & BEVERAGE

SIA and SATS to suffer from flight cancellations and capacity cuts Rising fears on the novel coronavirus outbreak have led to numerous flight cancellations and capacity cuts, which is expected to crash on Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) and SATS’ profitability for 2020, according to a note by global investment bank UOB Kay Hian. “Overall, there is a possibility that traffic at Changi could fall by that quantum over a two-month period. SATS and SIA would be most impacted,” said K Ajith, analyst at UOB Kay Hian.

MOST READ COMMENTARY Benefits of attracting foreign talent BY ADRIAN SHAM

Singapore Budget 2021: Three things startups need to know BY POOJA KHANDELWAL To support Singapore’s continued Every year, entrepreneurs anticipate growth and competition at a global how the budget announcements will level, foreign talent is needed to directly impact their business. The complement the local workforce. The budget announcements are especially introduction of a new Tech Pass to important to startups, as many of them attract founders, leaders, and technical are still recovering from the financial experts with experience is highly instability caused by the pandemic. welcomed and shows the government Highlights are the $5.2b allocated to agrees with our analysis. However, this create jobs & traineeships, GST extended only targets a specific sector and more to low value imported goods & services should be done to help businesses from 2023, and S$60m announced for attract foreign talent to Singapore. Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund.

4 4

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2019 SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Improved mental health after volunteering BY TESS MACKEAN Mental wellbeing is of utmost priority this year, and as we explore different ways of self-care, there is one that stands out for its net-positive impact. More Singaporeans step forward and volunteer their time for pro-bono consulting with charities. With their help, local charities have been able to create significant changes for their organisations, including better management, clearer communication, and more rigorous budgeting.


Drink Scan Listen Stand a chance to win exciting prizes.

Promotion Period: 1 April - 30 June 2021 Terms and conditions apply.

© 2021 The Coca-Cola Company.

TURN UP YOUR RHYTHM

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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AGENDA PEOPLE | PLACES | SERVICES | OPPORTUNITIES

OPPORTUNITIES

SP DIGITAL SP Digital (SPD), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SP Group, was incorporated to spearhead SP Group’s digital transformation and sustainability goals. Driven by our mission to Power Sustainability with EnergyTech, SPD leverages the latest innovations in technology to deliver solutions for SP’s various business units and the built environment. We do this by providing consumers and businesses with timely data for decision making; and leveraging technology to optimize operations and deliver value.

OPPORTUNITIES

S P JAIN SCHOOL OF GLOBAL MANAGEMENT S P Jain School of Global Management (SP Jain) is an Australian business school with campuses in Mumbai, Dubai, Singapore and Sydney. The School offers a plethora of undergraduate, postgraduate, professional and doctoral programs with a motive of crafting leaders for the 21st century workplace. The learning experience provided by them is modern, relevant and truly global. Their full-time MBA programs have significant recognition as evinced through global rankings by Forbes, The Economist and The Financial Times to name a few. To know more, please visit www.spjain.sg

visit

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FOR MORE INFORMATION on EVENTS AND ADVERTISING

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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


The customer we care most about

To feed 9.7 billion people by 2050, sustainably and responsibly, and within our planet’s finite resources, the time to change is now. At DSM, we’re focusing our passion and expertise on 6 key areas to support the livestock value chain and address the challenges facing our planet: • Improving lifetime performance of farm animals • Making efficient use of natural resources • Reducing emissions from livestock • Helping tackle antimicrobial resistance • Reducing our reliance on marine resources • Improving the quality of meat, milk, fish and eggs, while reducing food loss and waste

We strongly believe in sustainable food systems and that the livestock industry can transform itself from within to be a part of the solution. We want to play a key role in this transformation and work at species and country level, with our partners, to provide tangible and actionable solutions to create brighter lives for all.

If not us, who? If not now, when? WE MAKE IT POSSIBLE Find out how DSM can help transform animal nutrition and health sustainably at www.dsm.com/wemakeitpossible

Making deliciously delightful moments possible. Everyday.

Available at leading supermarkets in more than 50 countries.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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FIRST

Condo resale prices are expected to reach a 10-year high in 2021

No peak in sight: Condo resale prices maintain their surge through 2021

C

ondo resale prices rose for the eight consecutive month, and are predicted to reach a decade high in volumes, according to a report by SRX. Prices in the Core Central Region (CCR) increased 1.1%, whilst Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) prices decreased by 0.1% and 0.2% respectively in March 2021. Overall prices increased by 4.2% YoY against March 2020, and 0.1% MoM against February 2021. The report said that an estimated 1,662 units were resold in March 2021, a 28.9% increase from the 1,289 units resold in February 2021. This was the highest monthly volume seen since May 2011. Breaking down by different regions, in March 2021, 60.2% of the volumes were from OCR, 23.2% from RCR, and 16.5% from CCR. Meanwhile, the highest transacted price for a resale unit in the month was achieved for a unit in the EDEN condominium - it fetched $18.3m. OrangeTee’s senior vice president of research and analytics, Christine Sun, said that demand for resale homes in OCR had been higher due to a lack of 8

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

new home supply in the suburban areas and rising new home prices. Over the 15 months from January 2020 to March 2021, there were few mega new launches above 500 units in OCR, and only two mega launches: the 640-unit Clavon development, and the 660-unit Ki Residences at Brookvale. Similarly, over the first three months of this year, there have been no mega launches in OCR. Sun says that has likely

propelled some buyers to seek alternative housing and investment opportunities, and many have found relatively good value in the resale market. “Developers have also been paring down the unsold stock for their launched projects. For some of the balanced units, prices seem to have risen recently. thus creating a bigger barrier to entry for many first-time homebuyers or HDB upgraders to buy new private homes,” Sun added. Sun also said that the rising prices of resale homes could be pushed even further by a number of different supply and demand factors. “A recovering economy and still-low mortgage rates may propel demand and prices of resale homes further. As mega launches in the suburban region will continue to be limited, demand for resale mass-market homes may continue to remain robust this year, barring new cooling measures or unforeseen circumstances,” Sun said. The head of research and content at PropNex, Wong Siew Ying, agreed with this sentiment, saying they expect demand for resale condos to remain healthy throughout 2021. This is expected to be largely driven by local end-user demand, including from those upgrading their private homes from HDB dwellings. “The wide price-per-square-foot gap between new launches and resale properties may also help to steer some buying interest towards the resale segment. Generally, we do expect some potential upside for resale home values, partly supported by the firm prices in the new launch market,” Wong added.

Best Selling Projects in Singapore

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut Source: URA, OrangeTee & Tie Research & Analytics laoreet dolore magna aliquam.”


FIRST OCBC Bank expects 2021 to be modestly positive amidst the rise in crude oil prices globally

Private transportation costs raised the overall inflation rate for the month

Inflation returns to local prices

T

he year started with prices picking up, with a 0.2% headline inflation in January. The increased costs of private transportation and accommodation made up for the lower prices of retail, food, services, and utilities. Experts believe this could set a trend for the coming months. Private transportation costs raised the overall inflation rate for the month, speeding up at 1.9% from the previous 1.2% due to a larger increase in car prices and softer decline in petrol prices as

global oil prices rose in January. Average COE premiums in the open category climbed to a 3-year high in Jan Costs will continue to rise as travel restrictions ease, according to Maybank. “Private transport costs will likely continue rising in the coming months with ERP rates increasing at 10 gantries by S$1 with effect from 22 February to manage congestion during peak periods as traffic recovers,” Maybank said in a report. It added that higher petrol rates could also lead to higher fares

for public transportation. In a joint statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Trade said they expect increased inflation in domestic services as the economy recovers post-pandemic. Food prices have risen to 7-year highs mainly on the back of surge in palm oil and cereals. Meanwhile, house forecast for crude oil prices has been raised to US$55-60/barrel in 2021 following the stronger-than-expected performance year-to-date and improving global outlook with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, according to Maybank. The government sets its expectations for headline inflation to stay within the -0.5% and 0.5% range in 2021. Maybank projects a higher figure at 0.8%. OCBC Bank expects the year to be “modestly positive” amidst the rise in crude oil prices globally. Should global oil prices stay at around US$55 per barrel, it expects a full-year inflation rate of 0.7%. An uptick in global oil prices to US$60 per barrel could drive headline inflation closer to 1% for the full year of 2021. Inflation slid by 0.2% for the full year of 2020, driven by lower costs in transportation, healthcare, clothing and footwear, housing and utilities, and education, and tempered by higher food costs.

THE CHARTIST: REMOTE TALENT LINES UP FOR SINGAPORE’S POSITIVE COVID RESPONSE The Lion City is Southeast Asia’s most favoured destination for remote work. Singapore has moved up 10 spots to 8th place in terms of being an attractive location for global talent worldwide, according to a new study by management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and recruitment platform alliance The Network. Malaysia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan have also ranked in terms of being attractive locations for global talent. Whilst the city-state is Southeast Asia’s “most favoured destination” for remote employment (9th

worldwide), employees willing to work for a foreign company remotely is notably lower than the global average, with only 51% of Singaporeans agreeing to do so. Southeast Asia has also seen a notable decline in candidates’ willingness to move abroad, with only 44% of respondents in Singapore expressing so, down from 70% in 2018. “The pandemic has transformed the attitudes of global talent, with the fall in respondents expressing an ambition to move abroad particularly acute in Southeast Asia,” said Ming Teck Kong, managing director at BCG.

Ranking of countries in terms of their COVID-19 caseload

Source: Legatum Institute

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

9


FIRST ELECTRONICS SECTOR BOOSTS SINGAPORE’S INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Electronics to carry the manufacturing sector in Q1 2021

Singapore’s industrial production grew 8.6% over the first part of the year, driven by the electronics sector, according to Moody’s Analytics. Moody’s Analytics said that almost 20% YoY surge of the electronics sector comes on the back of a heightened demand for semiconductors due to a global shortage in the automobile sector. “Together with heightened demand from 5G markets and cloud services, the electronics boom will carry the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of the year,” it said. HSBC Global Research economist Yun Liu agreed with Moody’s analysis, but countered that electronics saw a pullback in its strong momentum, falling 9% MoM. She added that the almost 20% YoY growth that the sector saw was due to its relatively low base last year. Liu said that the growth in IP was supported strongly by rebound in pharmaceutical production which saw a jump of 85.4% MoM after falling sequentially in December. “On a MoM basis, this was led by impressive growth in pharmaceuticals. However, on a YoY basis, this was almost entirely thanks to ongoing strength in semiconductors. Yes, base effects are partly playing a role, but it’s not because of “conventional” Lunar New Year distortions. Rather, electronics production was in a relatively weaker position in 1Q20, but pharma came from a high base during the same period,” Liu added. Both analysts agreed that strong manufacturing growth is expected to support the economic rebound into 2021, with the manufacturing sector seto to expand firmly in the year whilst serving as bedrock to Singapore’s growth. Liu predicts that the economy will grow by 6.5% in 2021, one of the fastest in the region.

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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

ACTS to quicken movement of shipped goods

T

he ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS), officially launched in November 2020, is a distributed online IT system that makes movement of goods in transit through ASEAN countries quicker and easier. It was developed with technical and financial support from the European Union. With it, businesses are enabled to make single Customs transit declarations without needing to make repeated Customs declarations or change vehicles at the border of each country they cross. Its main features include: single electronic Customs transit goods declaration; single guarantee valid for the whole regional transit journey; single vehicle for the departure to destination; significant concessions for Authorised Transit Traders through application of simplified procedures; automated real time information availability at all Customs points during the journey, standard harmonised electronic data for message exchanges; streamlined Customs controls across countries; minimal transit border checks; mutual licence recognition; and full end-to-end computerisation of ACTS operations. In an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review, Bruno Selmoni (head of road freight and multimodal ASEAN and South Asia, DHL Global Forwarding Management APAC) said Singapore can benefit from this programme. How will ACTS impact companies, particularly in Singapore? The full implementation of the ACTS will contribute to the list of benefits by lowering costs, and enhancing efficiency and reliability for road freight movements in the region by harmonising the cross-border regulatory processes and standards imposed across different ASEAN member economies. The backbone of the ACTS is the use of a regional computerised customs transit management system which allows the customs administrations in each ASEAN Member State to efficiently

Businesses can make single Customs transit declarations without needing to make repeated declarations or change vehicles at the border of each country

ACTS improves the ability of Customs authorities to detect and prevent smuggling

capture and track the status and movement of goods under the ACTS. Instead of having to transfer cargo or container at each country’s checkpoint, forwarders save time and resources by completing the journey with a single truck, single customs declaration and single banker’s guarantee across participating countries under the ACTS. [It] will also lower costs over time, whilst enhancing efficiency and reliability for road freight movements in the region by harmonising the cross-border regulatory processes and standards imposed across different member economies. The benefits of an integrated seamless customs framework would not be reaped by logistics providers, but also by exporters and importers of participating ASEAN countries. How is ACTS relevant alongside other economic initiatives for ASEAN? Whilst free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership provide the foundation to stimulate trade among signatories, a single cross-border transit regime like the ACTS greases the wheels for intraASEAN economic development. The ACTS is an integral part of the ASEAN leaders’ decision to create the AEC to introduce the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour, and freer flow of capital in the region. For the AEC to take root, the establishment of a fully harmonised Customs and transport environment is of the highest priority. Whilst not directly connected to China’s Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, the ACTS has the potential to ease shipping processes for businesses based in markets connected to the B&R, and are shipping to ASEAN or vice versa.


CO PUBLISHED CORPORATE PROFILE

Top Employer HCL Technologies lauds resilient workforce for its success A leading global company, HCL Technologies shares how they adapted to the needs of their workforce during the height of the pandemic.

Apparao V V, Chief Human Resources Officer at HCL Technologies

T

he COVID-19 crisis tested the limits of many companies around the world last year. Whilst 2021 ushers in a more restrained optimism for the global business community, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc and leave a long trail of destruction along its path. Despite this, numerous enterprises are ready to take the challenge of shielding themselves against the crisis. This year marks that, and many businesses are reinforcing their need to survive and support their employees in adapting to new ways of working. As their people develop resiliency to these changes, companies progress despite the difficulties. “A healthy culture can help steer companies through uncharted waters. And, in a crisis, it may prove to be an invaluable lifeline and we do believe that most of the organisations would reset, reimagine, renew the way they look at employees and the impact the culture lasts,” said HCL Technologies Chief Human Resources Officer Apparao V V,. HCL Technologies is a leading global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Certified Top Employer in eleven countries to date, it joins an elite roster of 18 Singaporebased companies plus 1 673 organisations from around the world like Boehringer

Ingelheim, DHL, Infosys, JTI, Novartis, Orange, Pepsico, Philip Morris International, Saint-Gobain, Sandoz, Takeda, and Tata Consultancy Services. Getting the much-coveted and prestigious Top Employers certification globally certifies an organisation’s excellence in creating optimal employee conditions in the workplace—something that HCL Technologies takes pride in. The company is known for its outstanding work environment, including employee satisfaction with the company’s COVID-19 response. “The biggest learnings we have faced during 2020 is how to respond to the changing needs of our workforce in a mutable and unprecedented environment,” said Apparao. “Many of us were functioning in a world where work norms were preestablished, and the rapid shift to how we all worked with minimal transition periods was a great learning opportunity.” “As an organisation we learnt how to stay united despite being apart, how to gauge the needs of our workforce in terms of remote functionality, remaining interconnected, and improving overall health and wellbeing,” he added. The result is a resilient workforce on top of its game despite the challenges of the pandemic. “Words (and sentiments) like ‘recover’, ‘bounce back’, and ‘resilient’ were seen peppered across conversations and communication whilst speculating about

the post-COVID-19 world. The year 2020 was about learning how one must react to these times and how we should be ready for anything unforeseen. The year 2020 was an opportunity to stop looking at surviving but thriving,” he said. Thriving during uncertainty has given the company a better appreciation of change and of its entire workforce across 50 countries. “As said by our CEO, C Vijayakumar, HCL Technologies family is a great example of positive energy. Collectively, we have disrupted our working model, with almost 90% of us now operating in work-fromhome formats at one given point in time, most projects and locations even working 100% from their respective locations,” said Apparao. “We have met our client deliverables and expectations to a very large extent and this was only possible by the support of each and every one of our employees for positively embracing all the changes that have come their way at such speed and short notice. A testimony to this is our FY20 Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, where we achieved very high satisfaction scores from our top clients,” he added. The Top Employers Certification demonstrates that an organisation is a trusted employer. Presented to us by Top Employers Institute, the certification provides the opportunity to celebrate this achievement and reinforce the crucial role of people and HR within a business.

HCL Technologies bagged the Top Employers certification for its outstanding work environment

“The biggest learnings we have faced during 2020 is how to respond to the changing needs of our workforce in a mutable and unprecedented environment” SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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FINANCIAL INSIGHT: VENTURE CAPITAL

Singapore’s COVID-19 resilience is attracting even more venture capitalists There is still plenty of uncertainity lingering around the world economy, but venture capital firms say Singapore offers a resilient new foothold for the sector.

T

he COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, yet whilst its disruption is still felt today, one could say Singapore is amongst the states that’s faring better during the crisis. And this, coupled with Singapore’s COVID-19 resilience package, has helped to encourage further venture capital (VC) firms to move to the region. The package, under the 2021 spending plan, covers additional funding support for businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has projected the economy will expand by 4%-6% in 2021, signaling that Singapore is well on its way to recover, albeit unevenly across sectors. The economy contracted by 5.4% in 2020, but the Government says this could have doubled to 12.4% had it failed to place enough fiscal and policy measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis. VCs move to Singapore Despite hurdles in startup investments in 2020, the VC scene is expected to expand in 2021. The first quarter of the year already saw Hong Kong based travel firm Klook raise US$200m under the Series E round from Aspex Management, Sequoia Capital China, and Softbank Vision Fund 1 amongst other investors.

Venture capitalists share insights on Singapore’s VC scene this year

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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

The Singapore VC scene continues to thrive in 2021, especially benefitting from the stellar reputation in its COVID efforts

“The Singapore VC scene continues to thrive in 2021, especially benefitting from the stellar reputation in its COVID efforts,” KK Fund Co-Founder and General Partner Kuan Hsu told Singapore Business Review. “I have seen VCs travel to Singapore and base themselves here because they feel it is safer for them compared to staying in their home country,” he added. KK Fund started in 2021 with a $26.6m (US$20m) deal with Malaysian multibank supply chain finance company CapBay, under its Series A funding round. Capbay, also a peer-to-peer financing platform, is the first and only financial technology (fintech) company to partner with Telekom Malaysia for its vendor financing programme. Hsu added the 2021 budget, which covers the $11b COVID-19 Resilience Package that will partly extend assistance to businesses, will lead to more successful startups emerging from Singapore. Golden Gate Ventures (GGV) founding partner Vinnie Lauria also projects US-based investors to enter the Southeast Asian market, particularly in countries with resilient economies. “On a global scale, as an American in the region, I look at Southeast Asia and across the globe and how it compares to the US market,” Lauria said.


FINANCIAL INSIGHT: VENTURE CAPITAL

SEA to be the global growth drivers in the next decade

“It’s really where the whole COVID situation is much, much better, especially Singapore where the economy has been way more resilient,” he added, noting US investors will likely realise the region will be one of the global growth drivers in the next decade. Expect “audacity”, and lots of it The pandemic in 2020 sent countries into lockdowns, businesses to temporary closures and nearly everyone home, and its impact continues in 2021 as hesitance in opening up remains. Whilst businesses have yet to fully recover, GGV still sees a bullish outlook ahead. After all, 2020 was just a blip. “Golden Gate Ventures has been around for 10 years now and so I look at 2020 as a bit of a blip in the market but we still made eight investments last year,” Lauria said. “I know that number will increase. We’ll at least make ten to twelve investments this year.” Golden Gate Ventures, along with AC Ventures, and Quona, invested a total of $26.5m (US$20m) in 2020 in sharia fintech firm Alami Technologies based in Indonesia. The VC firm has also made an investment in bookkeeping app BukuWarung made for Indonesian merchants. In the same year, Singapore’s Ninja Van raised $370m (US$279m) from France’s GeoPost SA, B Capital Group, Monk’s Hill Ventures and other VC firms, including Golden Gate Ventures. Lauria expects entrepreneurs, who are rebounding from the impact of the crisis, to be bolder as they strive for a comeback in 2021. “They’re optimistic about the future and they’re going to be launching something new. So, I think what we’ll see in 2021, is audacity and a lot of it,” he said. Hive Ventures founder and managing partner Yan Lee said whilst the pandemic has led to disruptions, it also has paved the path for startups in the Southeast Asian region to reimagine ways to deal with pain points. “The pandemic has created many opportunities for startups to develop new and better solutions to global public problems, and this trend will continue,” Lee said. “Innovative ideas are not restrained by lockdowns or vaccinations and we believe that investments into technology and innovative solutions will continue despite the ongoing pandemic,” Lee added. The Taiwan-based firm, which is largely focused on deeptech companies and solutions, has made investments in tech

The pandemic has created many opportunities for startups to develop solutions to global public problems

and startup school ALPHA Camp in Singapore. KK Fund, meanwhile, believes the 2020 experience prompts startups to plan with a more realistic perspective as the country awaits the evolving “new normal” to take its final form. “I expect to see startups being realistic about the pandemic being part of the new normal, and planning and executing accordingly,” Hsu said. “The overall situation is still in a state of flux and it is perhaps too early for anyone’s crystal ball to function accurately.” He noted that not even startups engaged in digital health and education can guarantee that they will benefit from the optimism of investors. He added investments will continue to pick up in 2021, are unlikely to reach their 2019 levels as investors are “cautiously optimistic”. VCs sustain rebound Investments were down in the first half of 2020 as venture capitalists and startups alike grappled through the disruption brought by the coronavirus pandemic; but this started to recover in the second half of 2020, driven by the digital economy. VC firms noted startups in fintech, digital health and education technology, and logistics are among the high-demand sectors this year. “The digital economy thesis took shape in 2020 and we continue to be validated by its emphasis by both the public and private sectors in economies in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. We believe that 2021 will continue to show an emphasis on the digital economy as it permeates across traditional industries,” Quest Ventures managing partner James Tan said. Quest Ventures led the funding of Popsical, a karaoke system, for $6.9m (US$5.1m) in June 2020. Tan said he considers the deal as notable as it signifies traditional industries giving way to technology. “Quite reasonably the top home karaoke market in the world at the moment, the designed in Singapore product tapped into the zeitgeist of the moment and the opportunities brought about by the shift in entertainment from on-site to at-home,” he said. Tan said in Singapore, there will be a sharper and stronger focus in sustainable investments and investments with an environment, social and governance angle—a development he welcomed as it gives a nod to Quest Ventures’ long-time advocacy toward sustainability. Hive Ventures’ founder Lee sees health technology, e-commerce digitisation and fintech to lead the growth, especially in light of the serious impact to retail and traditional sectors. “We’ve seen industries expedite their long shelved digital transformation initiatives, posing exciting opportunities for startups in various sectors,” Lee said. “Furthermore, getting around lockdowns and travel bans, startups and investors alike have acclimatised to remote communications and virtual due-diligence meetings. This has helped further extend the reach of startups to investors beyond traditional geographical confines and proves to be a net positive opportunity for both sides of the deal table,” he added. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

13


EXCLUSIVE: SPACE WATCH

BBC Studios reveals new Singapore location The new office is 614 square feet bigger than the offshoot’s previous premesis.

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he new joint office for BBC Studios and BBC Global News, designed and built in partnership with Singapore-based commercial design and build company Conexus Studio, was completed in late 2020, a statement read. Located at 18 Robinson in the Central Business District, the new 6,491 sq ft office space is 614 sq ft larger than the previous location at Springleaf Tower. This represented a “significant move” for BBC operations in Singapore, switching from a fixed desk setup to a more agile setting. According to Conexus Studio’s design director Aviruth Trungtreechart, the new office space was “a

The new office space is a strategic mix of formal and informal, and individual and group working spaces

strategic mix of formal and informal, and individual and group working spaces in turn inspire, rejuvenate, as well as balance personal productivity with collaboration.” The new office has two main featured areas: the energetic pantry to the left of the entrance and the more subdued back office to the right. Natural motifs taken from the local Singaporean context were also incorporated into its design for a more authentic feel. “Our new office really reflects the BBC and our bold British Creativity,” said Ryan Shiotani, senior vice president and general manager for South and Southeast Asia for BBC Studios.

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1 The pantry has an earthy design with its wood furnishings and accent pieces

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Optimised for driving productivity, the meeting room features wide desks and bright overhead lights

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The signage wall features top spots in Singapore, rendered in a minimalist design.

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Natural materials were integrated in the new office’s fixtures, such as in shared tables and filing cabinets

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The new reception area is vibrant and welcoming, with its green walls and well-lit signage

Live plants can be found in almost every room, creating a fresh working environment

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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


CO-PUBLISHED CORPORATE PROFILE

Frasers Hospitality exemplifies what “Gold Standard” service really means

In 2020, the world’s leading serviced apartment operator combined meticulous adherence to safety protocols whilst ensuring that their residents receive world-class services.

Fraser Residence Orchard, Singapore won the title of the World’s Leading Serviced Apartment in 2020

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hen Singapore’s circuit breaker measures kicked into action in early 2020 to combat the maelstrom that is the pandemic, the hospitality industry saw its business options literally shut close due to the lack of tourists and travel. Despite these challenges, Frasers Hospitality remained undaunted in its mission of providing world-class, Gold Standard service with a heart. Striking gold again, Fraser Residence Orchard, Singapore won the title of the World’s Leading Serviced Apartment in the 2020 World Travel Awards; an amazing achievement for a 1-year old establishment since its official launch in 2019. This follows just a year after the title was awarded to its sister property, Fraser Suites Singapore. Frasers Hospitality proved that exemplary service is even more important in difficult times. During the circuit breaker, Fraser immediately focused on taking even greater care of their in-house residents and assuring them every step of the way. When supermarket shelves were empty due to panic buying, the service apartment operator rolled out Weekly Breakfast Hampers in Fraser Suites Singapore, Fraser Place Robertson Walk, Singapore, and Fraser Residence Orchard, Singapore. These hampers contained daily food essentials like bread, rice, pasta, condiments, eggs, milk and

many more, all at no additional cost to the residents. They then continued to replenish the hampers every week until the end of circuit breaker phase 2. General Manager, Clara Beng also extended empathy to its residents staying at home— and recognizing the challenges and changes the new normal has brought them—made sure that residents remained active with the rest of the community and that their choices remain tailored to their comfort. Residents were treated to Fraser’s Home Theatre, where a series of local theatre shows were brought into their apartments through Frasers Hospitality’s partnership with Wild Rice Singapore. They even held virtual events such as a pizzamaking session, snow-skin mooncake class, and yoga lessons taught by their very own inhouse yoga guru at Fraser Place Robertson Walk, Singapore! All these were done with their staff working doubly hard to comply with local quarantine requirements and government measures to the highest degree—cutting corners is not in Frasers Hospitality’s vocabulary, whether it is providing worldclass service to residents or ensuring their

safety is taken care of. Whenever a new government measure was announced, orders were promptly relayed to all ground staff to ensure immediate implementation and compliance. This includes hourly cleaning of the gym, conducting twice daily staff temperature checks, installing an ionizer in apartments and facilities, and more. This combination of meticulous adherence to safety protocols whilst ensuring that their residents receive world-class services rooted on empathy was shaped thanks to Frasers Hospitality’s 23 years of exemplary service in the serviced apartment industry. Throughout the years, the global hospitality operator has constantly refined their service standard into the ‘Gold Standard’, and this has been continually brought to life by their dedicated staff. The World’s Leading Service Apartment in 2020, Fraser Residence Orchard, Singapore, achieved the title thanks to its Resident Manager, Suzanna Chan, whose meticulous attention to each customer touch point and willingness to go above and beyond transformed every resident experience to one that is both personal and special.

Frasers Hospitality proved that exemplary service is even more important in difficult times SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

15


LEGAL BRIEFING

Will the Monetary Authority of Singapore allow single family offices to manage VCCs? Legal firm Harry Elias Partnership looks into the impact of this potential change to structuring rules.

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he Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is looking into the possibility of widening the scope of permissible fund managers that would allow single family offices (SFOs) to manage Variable Capital Companies (VCCs), according to news reports. An SFO is an entity that manages assets for or on behalf of only one family and is wholly owned or controlled by members of the same family. SFOs are commonly used by high net worth individuals (HNWIs) to manage their own monies. It allows the internally controlled fund manager to rely on existing licensing exemptions under the Securities and Futures Act and Financial Advisors Act. In a legal update, legal firm Harry Elias Partnership provided details on the VCC structure and the VCC Grant Scheme (VCCGS) and explained why widening the scope of permissible fund managers may be important for HNWIs looking to set up a fund to manage their own monies. VCCs and VCC Grant Scheme According to PwC, VCC is a new legal entity form / structure for all types of investment funds in Singapore. It can be formed as a single standalone fund or as an umbrella fund with two or more sub-funds, each holding different assets. Currently, a VCC must be managed by a Singaporelicensed fund manager. This means HNWIs who are setting up in Singapore usually have to engage in external licensed fund managers.

Widening the scope of permissible fund managers is important for rich individuals looking to set up a fund to manage their monies. There are key benefits of SFOs managing a VCC. First is that the segregation of sub-funds may mitigate risks since the assets of one sub-fund cannot be used to discharge the liabilities of another fund under the same umbrella VCC. Legal firm Harry Elias Partnership said this prevents the commingling of assets between sub-funds. This also extends to insolvency, as each sub-fund of the same umbrella VCC must be separate. Second, foreign funds structured similarly to the VCC can redomicile to Singapore via a simple registration process as long as it comprises one or more collective investment schemes. This allows foreign funds to preserve their corporate history and identity. Another is that the VCC’s options of an umbrella fund structure generate cost efficiencies by having sub-funds under the same umbrella VCC share a board of directors and service providers such as fund manager, custodian of assets, and auditor. Fourth is greater ease of varying share capital and allowing 16

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

VCC is a new legal entity form for all types of investment funds in Singapore

the payment of dividends using capital. What SFOs may aim in managing their own VCCs is qualifying for the VCC Grant Scheme that opens up SFOs access to tax treaty benefits and grant incentives. Under the scheme, MAS will cofund up to 70% of qualifying expenses for the establishment of a VCC, capped at $150,000 per application. To apply for the grant scheme, applicants should be Qualifying Fund Managers who have already incorporated or redomiciled a VCC. Qualifying Fund Managers are defined as licensed or registered fund management companies, or certain exempt financial institutions such as banks. Each applicant may only apply for grants for work done in relation to a maximum of three VCCs. Applicants should submit their VCC Grant Scheme application within three months from the incorporation or transfer of their VCC. The scheme will be available until 15 January 2023. Potential tax incentive gains KPMG’s partner and head of real estate & asset management of tax Teo Wee Hwee and asset management tax team director Pearlyn Chew said a VCC is treated for income tax purposes as a single entity, whether for a stand-alone VCC or an umbrella VCC, and similar to that of a private limited company, subject to certain modifications. An example of potential leverage a VCC can have is the availability of Singapore fund tax incentives. The bottomline, according to Harry Elias Partnership, with the benefits under the scheme, this will significantly lower or defray the cost of setting up a SFO using a VCC for HNWIs. “Fund management companies and HNW/UHNW individuals and families should seriously consider whether they wish to adopt the SFO structure and the VCC structure for incorporating or re-domiciling their funds in Singapore and should do so as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the VCCGS and relevant tax incentives,” the firm added.


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MARKETING BRIEFING

Consumers ‘extremely receptive’ to ads that are both in context and engaging Around 91% of Singaporeans recognise the power of contextual relevance in ads, particularly for online platforms.

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nline sites have undeniably made it easier for brands to sell their products and services, as there are now more spaces and more brands that can be featured in a single page. But despite this ease in being able to feature more brands, it doesn’t necessarily translate into better reception from consumers. Ads from brands need to ensure they remain relevant in order to be received well by consumers, as they still deem the contextual relevance of ads important amidst the constantly changing digital advertising landscape. This was revealed in the latest study by global tech company Integral Ad Science (IAS). The research, titled The Power of Context, explores how context influences consumers’ perception of ads and brands. It surveyed over 2,000 consumers across four Asia Pacific countries, namely Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and Australia, amidst the digital advertising landscape’s dramatic shift over the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major findings of the IAS survey saw that Singaporeans were “extremely receptive” to contextually relevant ads, with 91% preferring digital ads to appear alongside relevant content. Consumers from Indonesia (96%), Australia (86%) and Japan (75%) also shared similar sentiments on preference for digital ads to appear alongside relevant content. “Consumers value seeing ads that are related to the topics or articles they’re consuming online. Relevant ads are not only more memorable, but also more likely to foster a favourable consumer opinion toward the brand,” the study advised. Amongst the other main takeaways of the study was that the suitability of ad environments impacts the perception of consumer brands, including the receptivity and memorability of the ads, as well as the overall favourability towards the brand.

Consumers value seeing ads that are related to the topics or articles they’re consuming online The study has highlighted that consumer perception of ads is directly influenced by the content on a page. Roughly nine out of 10 (87%) Singaporean consumers say their perception of an online ad is impacted by the surrounding content on the page. 18

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Singaporeans are “extremely receptive” to contextually relevant ads

Over two-thirds of consumers in Indonesia (95%), Japan (71%), and Australia (71%) also revealed the same thought on consumer perception of ads. Moreover, when shown articles representing different verticals, consumers always preferred contextual relevance. Across the board, consumers paired the advertisements they preferred with articles categorised in the same content vertical. IAS senior vice president for Asia Pacific Laura Quigley said the data shows that contextually relevant ads impact consumers beyond their immediate response, “forming part of their longer term recall and favourability towards a brand.” “Contextual targeting represents a major opportunity for brands in 2021 and understanding how context influences consumers’ perception of ads is critical to capture long-term interest. For marketers, this is essential to stand out within increasingly crowded marketplaces and drive action as a result of ads,” Quigley added. A question of brand security Previous IAS research has shown that consumer perception of ads and brands is influenced by the quality of an environment, moreso now that the advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) enable content evaluation to provide insights into the sentiments conveyed by a given page. Such advancements allow brands to make more suitable ad placement decisions, which could lead to enhanced brand security and audience reception. “Brand safety practices have long been essential to marketing strategies. Whilst most brands agree on what constitutes unsafe content, the ideal advertising environment is likely to be unique to a given brand. That’s where brand suitability comes in,” the study stated.


CREATING TOMORROW’S SOLUTIONS

Close in times of physical distance

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In times like these, physical distance is required – not social distance. The corona pandemic is probably the biggest challenge we have faced worldwide, both in terms of health and economy, for over 70 years. A challenge that we must face together. We are proud to announce that our regional subsidiary Wacker Chemicals South Asia has won the SBR Management Excellence Award 2020. The award recognizes the company’s efforts and achievements in reconnecting WACKER employees in South Asia in times of global pandemic. Wacker South Asia’s colleagues have been able to reach out to each other and their customers despite the latitudes and longitudes separating them.

www.wacker.com

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

19


HR BRIEFING

Agile workforces: How companies responded to the COVID employment crisis Flexible working options for staff are likely to be sticking around for the long term.

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s Singapore eases into the Phase 3 of its reopening, employees are likewise starting to wonder how the foray into the period before a post-COVID-19 normal workplace will look like. Last year, non-essential workers were thrust into working from home for indefinitely — most of them for the first time. According to ByteDance-owned digital collaboration suite Lark’s Vice President of Commercial for Asia Joey Lim, in-person collaboration has dramatically dropped amidst the pandemic, and small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) have had to adjust to a hybrid workforce even since the circuit breaker measures have been lifted. In these environments, at least half of employees are working from home, while some staff are also able to access the office. “As such, physical oversight has become virtually impossible and communication is more likely [to] falter, thus highlighting the need for SMEs to understand how their employees are communicating and across which channels,” comments Lim. On the other hand, career shifts from one sector to another have also taken place. One example would be the transferring of some employees from Singapore Airlines to Pacific Logistics Group (PLG). The employees’ exposure to a myriad of cultures, backed by their diverse backgrounds, are expected to serve as advantages when they are able to return to the airline. Not only that, the logistics company’s management training programme will also aid in expanding the knowledge and skills base across both organisations.

Specific (aviation industry) technical knowledge was applicable across many industries, including the logistics sector. In an email interview with Singapore Business Review, PLG commented: “By leveraging our new employees’ experience in the aviation industry and their familiarity with freight terms, the training time is reduced and they are able to delve quickly into the job. Along with the excellent customer service and management skills amassed from their flying days, we hope to be able to set new logistics service standards, addressing current performance gaps in the industry.” From one sector to another The transition from the aviation to the logistics industry was relatively seamless, at least for Suzanne Chia - one of a group of transferees who shared their experiences with Singapore Business Review. She says this was in large part due to the training and professional support provided by 20

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Professionals in Singapore will need to wait several years before the “new normal” settles in

the logistics specialist. Skills in problem-solving, communications, customer service, and people management, as well as technical and operational know-how proved to be highly transferable, added Kevin Chin. For Alvin Aung, the timing was serendipitous, with the pandemic (and job swap opportunities) coming just as he was considering a career change. “I was in the process of figuring out a suitable career path and (had) decided to apply for logistics as it is a multi-dimensional industry with opportunities to explore and develop more in-depth as a professional,” he said. Specific technical knowledge such as country and airport codes as well as air freight terms were applicable across many industries and in responding to customer queries. “The difference lies in the work focus — previously, it was about passenger needs and safety; now, it is about providing the right solutions for clients, with larger working groups and stakeholders, involving freight,” added Yenny Juwita. Onwards to a new normal The final “new normal” of post-COVID working arrangements are not yet visible - with many in Singapore expecting the pandemic will last four-to-five years before the upheaval ends. “Though the country has done well with keeping numbers low post-circuit breaker, COVID-19 is still affecting millions around the world and hybrid work arrangements will continue to be the norm,” says Lim. As for the aviation sector, Chin says that more regulations would be implemented in ensuring safety aboard aircrafts and in airports. “The aviation industry will recover in time,” assured Juwita. “Vaccinations, quarantines, and safe-travel measures have already been put in place — air-traffic should recover gradually as more cities and nations get COVID-19 under control.”


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21


INDUSTRY BRIEFING: RETAIL

Structural changes have encouraged many to upgrade their technological infrastructure in the retail industry

Cross-border e-commerce sales will provide key to retail sector recovery The trend surged due to international travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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ingapore’s retail industry is still miles away from recovery, despite several measures and initiatives to improve market conditions in the sector. According to data from OCBC, retail sales in 2020 dropped 15.3% YoY. This was after the Department of Statistics reported a 3.6% YoY decline in retail sales for December 2020, bringing the slump to its 23rd straight month.OCBC economist Howie Lee observed that despite the contraction in overall retail sales, sales of computers and telecommunication equipment rose by 24.8% YoY in December 2020, reflecting the broader trend of increased consumer demand for electronics goods, as structural changes in the way people interact and work have encouraged many to continuously upgrade their technological infrastructure. Whilst gradual economic recovery is underway due to the rollout of 22

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

COVID-19 vaccines, retailers will still have to rethink their business strategies and organisation moving forward to the post-pandemic retail market. Innovations in the retail sector have continued to provide hope for businesses amidst an uncertain future. Leveraging on cross-border The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent circuit breaker measure introduced by the Singapore government have put e-commerce on the map amidst the rapidly changing consumer trends and demands. Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing revealed in a speech that Enterprise Singapore is in active discussions with Amazon on introducing new programmes to help local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sell overseas. The programmes include listing optimisation, customer service, and international demand generation.

The borderless world of e-commerce presents fresh opportunities that are up for grabs by all who are willing to try

“The borderless world of e-commerce presents fresh opportunities that are up for grabs by all who are willing to try. Technology is neutral. Businesses that can master it faster and better, win,” Chan said. The minister added that the competition is already on a regional and global level, and Singapore firms must position themselves to make the most out of the phenomenon as it is unlikely to end. Meanwhile, IGD head of APAC insight Nick Miles mentioned that cross-border sales have been a growth segment of e-commerce in recent years. He added that whilst crossborder sales remain more focused on general merchandise products, food and consumer goods have a role to play with retailers and manufacturers using e-commerce platforms to tap into the demand for international products from Asia. “These businesses provide a


INDUSTRY BRIEFING: RETAIL

Nick Miles

A lot more people shop online due to lockdowns and social distancing measures

Qian Yi

whole range of services from import assistance, marketing support, sophisticated and user-friendly platforms, excellent logistics capabilities and huge amounts of data to help brands target consumers,” Miles explained. Such is the case for e-commerce platform Lazada and cross-border marketplace Tmall Global. According to Lazada head of LazGlobal Qian Yi, the increasing popularity of e-commerce reinforces the brand’s belief in building a strong e-commerce infrastructure, which Lazada has been investing heavily since its establishment in 2012. “More consumers have shifted online for their daily needs, and have been forming new online shopping habits, which propels businesses to digitalise their operations and start on their e-commerce journey,” Yi said. Lazada has upgraded its crossborder logistics capabilities in 2020, which include the launch of its newest warehouse solution Fulfilled by Lazada (FBL), which has helped enhance efficiency in cross-border shipping to allow sellers to upgrade their supply chain solutions. “With enhanced shipping efficiency and diversified product offerings, consumers are now able to shop the world from the comfort and safety of their homes. We see it as complementary to the local marketplace businesses, which brings vitality to the market, and is for the greater good for our consumers,” Yi said. Meanwhile, Tmall Global has noted shifts in consumption patterns and attitudes toward online shopping. “The pandemic has supercharged

the adoption of and affinity for e-commerce worldwide. Consumer behaviors have changed dramatically, with a lot more people shopping online due to lockdowns and social distancing measures,” Tmall Global senior director William Zhao said. The brand has accelerated its merchant onboarding and incubation process to open doors for overseas brands, including Singapore, to sell to Chinese consumers. “We’ve also shifted our platform from an invitation-based model to an open one, meaning merchants are now able to launch their own brands onto the platform, and with more flexible options to choose from that best suits their business model and location,” Zhao said. Looking into e-commerce logistics The rise of cross-border e-commerce has also posed opportunities for industries like logistics amidst challenges brought by international travel restrictions. Singapore Post (SingPost) revenue for H1 2020 rose 9.6% to $707.8m, mainly due to growth in post and parcel and logistics segments, with strong e-commerce volume growth. Domestic post and parcel saw significant e-commerce volume growth of 43% for the period ended September 2020. E-commerce revenue now stands at 32% of all domestic post and parcel revenues. Meanwhile, the logistics segment revenue rose 20.3% for the period. SingPost’s courier subsidiaries CouriersPlease, Quantium Solutions, and SP eCommerce all experienced

William Zhao

robust growth as a result of increased adoption of e-commerce in Asia Pacific. Yi mentioned that logistics is fundamental in the cross-border e-commerce value chain, especially in Southeast Asia that has a unique diversity and vast geography. Technology innovations for postpandemic retail The Singapore retail industry has maximised online technologies to drive up recovery amidst the impacts of the pandemic. According to a report by financial services company PPRO, 43% of cross-border e-commerce in Singapore as of January 2020 was from China. Moreover, the decrease in footfall has led to the rise of immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. A report by Euromonitor International mentioned that these immersive technologies have allowed consumers to form new shopping habits going into 2021. Livestream shopping and online shopping festivals are some of the trends that rose in 2020 due to travel restrictions. Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in November 2020 has ridden on these trends, with focus on helping more merchants tap the surge in Chinese consumers’ demand for cross-border online shopping. What lies ahead for retail? Now that Singapore is well on its way to recovery due to vaccination programmes and border reopening, the retail sector can also expect a better year ahead. Miles noted that many businesses have been focusing their attention on ensuring supply of products in local markets to keep with demand. “As a new normal emerges, cross border will remain a key new revenue stream, whilst restricted travel will also promote this trend further,” he said. Lee forecasts that retail sales will bounce back by 12.5% YoY in 2021 largely due to low base from the pandemic. However, retail spending will not return to pre-pandemic level until herd immunity is achieved within the local population and until Singapore opens up its borders to international travellers. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

23


THOUGHT LEADERSHIP ARTICLE

AIA Singapore takes the lead on destigmatising mental health

Singapore’s largest employee benefits insurer has a plan to improve mental health in the workplace for 1.2 million workers in Singapore. health issues. It is making its “Resilience Mindset” training programme available free to not just its own staff, but all corporate solutions customers as well. The four-week programme, in partnership with Potential Project, a global leader in organisational effectiveness training, takes a deep dive into the causes of workplace mental health issues, as well as strategies to better manage stress.

Alvin Fu, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer at AIA Singapore

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ention ‘mental health’ at the office, and you can still hear the nervous banter as colleagues attempt to steer the conversation to more politically neutral territory. It’s a reflection of the stigma still attached to mental health issues, despite widespread examples of the negative impacts of stress, burnout, and mental overload that almost every professional in Singapore will have witnessed at one point or another during their careers. Independent research confirms these anecdotal case studies. According to a 2017 APAC Benefits Strategy Study, done by HR Consulting Group, Aon Hewitt, seven out of 10 employers recognised the link between mental health issues among their workforce. However, only 51% have implemented wellness programmes that specifically address mental health issues. And 38% of employers said they had no plans to address the gap in the near future. At the individual level, the 2018 Institute for Mental Health report stated that 86.5% of employed people in Singapore did not seek help for mental health, in part because of the stigma that still surrounds it. So even when employers do make such services directly available to their staff, there remains a gap in participation levels among the workforce. Now, one of the country’s leading life insurers is looking to make a serious change to that equation. AIA Singapore is tackling both the lack of effective mental health and resilience training and development support schemes, while simultaneously busting some of the myths and misconceptions around mental

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Complimentary training for the Singapore workforce The training is available to all AIA Singapore employees and corporate solutions customers. As the largest employee benefits insurer in Singapore, AIA’s complimentary programme now available to one in three employed in Singapore (1.2 million workers), at no additional cost. Alvin Fu, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer at AIA Singapore, said, “Our purpose is to enable healthier, longer, better lives for more people and mental health is a major component in fulfilling this mantra. There is no health without mental health. With Singaporeans being ranked as some of the most stressed workers in the world, mental wellbeing is a vital aspect of any workplace wellbeing program.” “This mental resilience training scheme was initially trialled by the AIA leadership team in Singapore. The goal was to help them become better people managers, equipping leaders with the necessary skills to identify and address employee burnout. The results from the pilot run were incredible, with a recorded quadrupling of mindset shift towards more positive, optimistic, and selfless thinking recorded after the session, compared to before. As such, we decided to extend this training at no additional charge to all AIA employees and corporate customers as part of a broader effort to nurture a culture of workplace wellbeing across the country,” added Fu. The four-week programme consists of an introductory webinar, which is complemented by a series of subsequent check-in sessions, ensuring a positive, lasting change of mindset and workplace habits.

Immediate impact Fu says AIA Singapore leadership team underwent the mental resilience training pilot programme in the second half of 2020. The results from that first intervention were a pleasant surprise to everyone involved. At the beginning, more than 25% of participants reported feeling “tired”, “stressed”, and/or “overwhelmed” in their daily work. By the end, there was a marked shift in those descriptions. 91% of participants’ language indicated that the shift towards more positive, optimistic, and selfless mindsets had almost quadrupled as a result of the programme. Some 97% of participants also said that they found the sessions “helpful” and would recommend it to their colleagues. Pioneers in mental health coverage The Resilience Mindset programme is just one of the initiatives that AIA Singapore extends to its clients and their employees. Fu says this is part of the insurer’s broader commitment to improving mental health awareness and coverage in Singapore. “In 2019, AIA Singapore became the first insurer in the market to offer insurance solutions for mental health conditions. Launched in 2019, AIA Beyond Critical Care is the first and only critical illness plan in Singapore to provide coverage for five prominent mental illnesses. By taking this first step to cover mental disorders, we hope to encourage more members of our society to acknowledge these conditions as legitimate health conditions that require treatment and support,” he continued. Looking beyond insurance solutions, AIA Singapore also has a comprehensive award-winning wellness programme health and wellness programme: AIA Vitality. The first in the market when it was launched in 2013, AIA Vitality encourages members to make real and long-lasting improvements to their daily behaviours to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Since inception, AIA Vitality has grown to over 100,000 members in Singapore alone .

We hope our society will acknowledge mental disorders as legitimate health conditions that require treatment and support


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COUNTRY REPORT: AUSTRALIA

The pandemic acted as a “shockwave” in Australia’s economy

Australia weathers the COVID-19 crisis The federal and state governments have managed the impacts of the pandemic effectively, but some business sectors still need policy support to cope with revenue losses.

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s a developed country that has enjoyed more than 20 years of continued economic growth, Australia consistently stands strong in the face of crises. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has shown that even resilient economies are not completely immune to the massive impact of a pandemic. In Australia and across the world, the fallout resulting from COVID-19 is profound for large businesses whose operations rely on global supply chains, as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose survival depends on day-to-day earnings. Lockdowns required to contain the spread of the virus and protect the population have created an economic emergency, necessitating solutions that blend cautiousness and pragmatism. These challenging times give rise to a few important questions: Which sectors of the Australian 26

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economy are most affected by the pandemic? How have businesses weathered the crisis? What steps did the government and private sectors taken to ensure economic recovery whilst protecting public health? Several economic analysts have examined the economic situation in Australia in the context of recent events. They have also presented their growth forecasts for 2021, as summarised in this report. Business faces a tough test Dr Pradeep Philip, lead partner at Deloitte Access Economics, describes the pandemic as a “shockwave through the economy and the community”. To keep businesses afloat, “the government has launched programmes to keep workers employed, provide supplementary income to those on welfare, reduce tax liabilities for businesses—all had a positive impact on businesses, workers, and the community,” he explains.

The key to Australia’s success in navigating this situation is an integrated approach to public health and economic concerns

These programmes also involve strategies to manage worker attendance in offices, the movement of workers from home to office, and enterprises’ access to markets. Philip adds that “as governments [in neighbouring countries] quickly enacted strong fiscal stimulus measures, the Reserve Bank of Australia [also] ensured there was liquidity in markets. The increase in government debt has been more than offset by the period of record low interest rates.” Shahana Mukherjee, economist at Moody’s Analytics, says that “COVID-related restrictions have severely hurt businesses, with industries such as transport, hotels and restaurants more acutely affected than others. Forced closures have asymmetrically affected SMEs in particular, which have relied on policy support to cushion the impact of lost revenue.” Businesses experiencing financial strain have received


COUNTRY REPORT: AUSTRALIA Australia’s external position will largely benefit from stronger commodity prices and recovering demand in Asia

Growth in H1 will be driven by a strong revival in domestic demand

government assistance in the form of special credit lines/provisions and lost-cost borrowing. The loan deferral scheme has helped ensure adequate liquidity flow and relaxed repayment alternatives for vulnerable enterprises. Furthermore, “Australia’s sound fiscal position, with historically low debt levels relative to other OECD countries, is a big positive, as it implies policymakers can realistically maintain a balanced approach between achieving growth targets and investing in its long-term health infrastructure,” says Mukherjee. According to Shaun Roache, Asia-Pacific chief economist at S&P Global Ratings, Australia’s services sector has suffered the most during the pandemic. “Foreign travel restrictions hit activity in education—given a large presence of foreign students—and tourism. Lockdowns affected shops and restaurants. These are job-rich parts of the economy and employment fell by about 6% from peak to trough.” He also notes that most of the affected jobs were of a part-time or temporary nature. Moderately encouraging forecasts Jeremy Zink, Australia analyst at Fitch Ratings, believes that the Australian economy has “weathered the pandemic well compared with its peers.” He cites successful virus containment and an effective fiscal and monetary response as crucial elements, consistent with a policy framework that ensures mediumterm resilience to shocks. Thus,

Fitch Ratings expects the economy to grow by 3.8% in 2021, thanks to robust consumption by households that have accumulated savings due to government relief measures. Moody’s Analytics anticipates growth in the first half of 2021 to be driven by a strong revival in domestic demand, says Mukherjee. According to her, GDP is expected to return to pre-crisis levels by June and grow by 4% in 2021 if monetary and fiscal policy settings remain conducive to growth and no major interruptions occur in the country’s vaccination drive. Roache of S&P states that “even though Australia is normalising faster than many other countries, keeping the risks of infection low will mean some activities are curtailed to some extent, from large gatherings such as sports events to international travel.” He explains that the economy may have to operate at 90% capacity, that is, below its potential for a certain period. Furthermore, consumers may decide to spend less and save more. Thus, he thinks that ongoing policy support is needed to help the most directly affected sectors. Very low policy interest rates are also expected to remain in place to ensure economic stability. Full recovery Given the circumstances, another interesting question is whether full recovery is on the horizon. Mukherjee of Moody’s Analytics believes that if the momentum continues, the economy is expected

to return to pre-crisis GDP levels by the June quarter of 2021. “In our view, a full recovery entails sustainable or stable economic conditions, which includes stable long-term growth and inflation and a tight labour market. Assuming that domestic coronavirus cases remain low, that no new localised outbreak emerges and that Australia successfully concludes its domestic vaccination drive by the end of 2021, Moody’s Analytics expects the Australian economy will achieve its dual targets of stable inflation (between 2% and 3%) and a tight labour market (with unemployment at 5.1%) by the September quarter of 2023. In turn, this will allow for a gradual tightening of interest rates to begin by the end of 2023,” Mukherjee added. S&P expects Australia’s economy to grow at approximately 4% in 2021, well above its long-run average growth rate of about 2.7%, says Roache. Investment and lending may be restrained by weakness in the balance sheets of some corporations and banks. Thus, S&P does not expect a “return to normal” until herd immunity is achieved through vaccinations, borders reopen, and the unemployment rate drops back to pre-pandemic levels, which may happen in 2023 or 2024. Philip of Deloitte states that repairing the economy entails further effort. “Bounce back does not equal recovery, especially when structural change is underway. We should seize the opportunity provided by [the pandemic] to transition our economy to provide a better outcome for Australia. This could include a stronger focus on achieving full employment and sustainable wages before dialling back stimulus measures too far. This will ensure that workers who want a job can get a job, and rising inflation will add further incentive for businesses to invest in future productivity growth,” he says. Moreover, he emphasises the opportunity to drive skills and innovation as catalysts towards economic reform. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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COUNTRY REPORT: AUSTRALIA Identifying the strong, supporting the weak Which sectors are likely to lead the economy towards recovery and what measures are being taken to boost their capacity while also supporting the vulnerable ones? Mukherjee of Moody’s Analytics acknowledges that “a composite recovery across all sectors will be imperative to ensure sustainable growth beyond [this year]. The wholesale and retail sectors are well-placed to benefit from a pickup in household confidence through 2021 and 2022, whilst the mining industry is likely to reap returns from stronger commodity prices as global manufacturing picks up momentum from the second half of 2021. Considering the extent of the damage on tourism-exposed industries (which remain among the most vulnerable), the resumption of international travel and highereducation-driven immigration is vital, although this is unlikely to happen before the end of 2022.” She thinks that these industries may benefit from a boost in domestic tourism and travel bubbles with countries such as New Zealand. She also anticipates significant growth in the residential property market to uplift the construction industry until next year, although the growth may be tempered by a softer increase in non-residential construction. Deloitte expects technology investments across most sectors to contribute strongly to the recovery as solutions which have been trialled during the pandemic are implemented in business operations. Stimulating the economy would also call for general investment incentives. Philip adds that “with the upcoming COP26 meeting at the end of the year and a renewed climate enthusiasm with the election of US President Biden, Australia, like many countries in [the AsiaPacific] region, will want to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves [in the energy sector]. The personal care sectors will continue to feature strongly in Australia’s economic future and are sectors where technology and 28

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business design will unlock new sources of value and growth.” According to Zink of Fitch Ratings, “Australia’s banking system, which scores ‘A’ on Fitch’s banking system indicator, is well positioned to manage the current shock, with modest assetquality deterioration to date due to government-support measures for households and businesses. Business insolvencies are at historic lows, but are likely to rise slightly as fiscal support measures are withdrawn. Capitalisation buffers are sufficient for banks’ current rating levels. Sound prudential regulation and stronger underwriting standards improved the resilience of bank balance sheets entering into the shock.” S&P’s Roche expounds that “in the early stages of the recovery, the resources sector, especially mining, outperformed, helped by demand from China. As the recovery matures, the service sector, including retail and hospitality, should see the fastest growth. Lagging sectors will include tourism and travel and there will likely remain a need for policy support for some time.” Another vital sector is retail. According to KPMG Australia’s report on the country’s retail outlook for 2021, the past year brought turbulence and change to the sector. Government initiatives such as the JobKeeper programme, which provided payments to qualified

Anthony Walker

Pradeep Philip

Shahana Mukherjee

Shaun Roche

Australia’s banking system is well positioned to manage the current shock

employers to prevent layoffs, and the temporary suspension of insolvent trading laws mitigated the impact of the pandemic amongst retail businesses. As retailers closed physical stores and shifted to online operations, some of them have produced better-than-expected financial results. Prime ratings and potential risks Fitch Ratings has affirmed a long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating at “AAA” with a negative outlook. The agency foresees federal government deficit to reach 9.1% of GDP and state deficits to increase. Based on government finance statistics, a general government deficit of 12.7% of GDP is expected for FY21 (ending June 2021), up from 7.3% in FY20. Meanwhile, S&P Global Ratings has issued an “AAA/ Negative/A-1+” rating for Australia. Anthony Walker, a sovereign analyst at S&P, attributes the negative outlook to potential fiscal and economic risks. The downside scenario is a possible lowering of the ratings in the next two years if the pandemic causes prolonged economic and fiscal damage. Meanwhile, the upside scenario points to stability if the general government fiscal balance strengthens as the economy recovers thus, creating a buffer to absorb any potential shock in the near future.


THOUGHT LEADERSHIP ARTICLE

Building stronger tenant relationships

SP Digital’s TenantCare and automated metering systems improves tenant engagement and satisfaction to drive sustainability.

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hen it comes to tenants, property owners have two key priorities - retaining existing tenants and attracting new ones by offering differentiated and value-added services. These include helping tenants achieve a better workplace experience and reducing utilities costs and their carbon emissions. Smart Meters for a Smart Future Commercial properties traditionally rely on manual meters to collect utilities data from tenants. Third-party service providers read the meters manually and tenants are then billed based on their electricity consumption. However, such traditional metering systems result in higher operating costs and poor productivity. Resources are deployed to take manual readings and perform checks to verify readings. Moreover, usage data from traditional meters cannot be obtained in a timely and accurate manner, making it harder to resolve tenant enquiries. One solution is for landlords to tap on smart meters. Today’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) or smart meters are capable of real-time and advanced monitoring. This has enabled the digitisation and automation for building owners. SP Digital, the digital arm of SP Group, believes that energy technology can help customers achieve efficiencies, cost and energy savings, and be sustainable. It’s Chief Executive Officer Chang Sau Sheong highlighted that SP Digital’s inhouse solutions can help drive operational efficiency through automation, while helping customers contribute to a low carbon, smart energy future. “We want to use digital capabilities to help our customers to deliver value for themselves, and for their tenants,” he said. Property owners want to prioritise operational efficiency when it comes to managing tenants, as well as increasing rental yield and brand value. To achieve this, SP Digital developed the Smart Digital Suite platform that integrates different building systems and diverse data sources. It provides landlords with a holistic and seamless experience in managing their buildings and help landlords improve their relationships with their tenants.

Chang Sau Sheong, CEO at SP Digital

TenantCare, one of Smart Digital Suite’s modules, allows landlords to efficiently manage tenant energy consumption and around common areas. It simplifies operational challenges involved in utility management, improves tenant engagement, and frees up valuable time for building owners to focus on their core business. TenantCare – Using prompt and accurate data to achieve energy and cost savings Chang mentioned that through the TenantCare module and smart meters, each tenant’s electricity consumption can be read every half hour, compared to the traditional monthly reading. Chang added that with monthly utilities readings in a traditional system, it is hard to analyse what causes a surge in utility bills. This limits the ability to take proactive actions. TenantCare addresses these problems and reduces conflicts. Any anomalies in utilities consumption can be addressed immediately through anomaly detection algorithms and alerts.

These then provide actionable insights almost immediately compared to waiting for monthly data. TenantCare also helps landlords in terms of revenue assurance as the use of smart meters significantly reduces human errors and prevents unnecessary revenue losses due to manual readings and inaccurate billing. It comes with SP Digital’s robust advanced metering infrastructure, as well as hardware and communications infrastructure that are standards compliant and reliable. With SP Digital’s focus on advancing sustainability for customers, solutions like TenantCare can drive behavioural changes for both the tenants and the landlords in terms of how they view management of utilities. “Our vision is to Power Sustainability with EnergyTech for a low carbon, smart energy future. The kind of solutions that we are deploying for the commercial real estate market will drive sustainability by empowering both the landlords and tenants in their green efforts,” Chang said. To find out more about TenantCare and SP Digital’s portfolio of solutions, contact: spd@spgroup.com.sg

TenantCare Dashboard

“We want to use digital capabilities to help our customers to deliver value for themselves, and for their tenants” SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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HOTTEST STARTUPS 2021

Rise of AI start-ups: “Old School” sectors can’t hide from digitalisation Singapore Business Review’s annual list of the most exciting local startups highlights a renewed focus on finance and health technology businesses, amid lower funding over 2020. “Some examples include distribution channels for insurance and real estate. The pandemic has forced companies to digitalize, and we can expect to see these ‘old school sectors’ opening up to innovation and digital-first experiences,” she said. Daoud also saw a second coming of e-commerce after the pandemic accelerated its trend in Asia. Meanwhile, Senior Analyst at VC firm Quest Ventures Gwen Sim told Singapore Business Review that work from home arrangements gave some the opportunity to monetize their spare time by creating content or setting up home businesses on social media. “I believe this push towards the creator economy is on the rise and we will increasingly see tools to facilitate that growth,” Sim said. Startups started banking on digital technology to excel in their respective markets.

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ech-based startups may have dominated the tenth edition of Singapore Business Review’s 20 Hottest Startups but relatively young sustainable food startup Next Gen took the top spot with a recently raised funding of $13.3m in a seed funding round. The company also takes the title of the youngest startup with the highest amount of funding raised in our list. Tying in second place were mapping technology platform NextBillion.ai, founded just last year, and independent blockchain platform for trade and supply chain finance digitisation #dltledgers. They both raised $9.3m in Series A funding rounds last year. The startup is followed by digital trading platform Zipmex founded in 2019 that raised more than $7.9m (US$6m) in a pre-Series A funding round. Other startups in the list are BotMD ($6,6m), Popsical ($6.6m), Lendela ($5.3m), ION Mobility ($4.3m), Neuroglee ($3.05m), Volopay ($2.9m), Qapita, ($2.3m)), Karana ($2.2m), BRDA ($1.9m), UI-licious ($1.9m) Krosslinker ($1.6m), Propseller ($1.5m), Appboxo ($1.4m), ACKTEC Technologies ($1.3),OrderEZ ($500k), and In-d.ai ($500k). These 20 startups averaged around $4.18m in funding last year, which is a 46.75% drop from the average funding amount of 2019. Traditional sectors to digitalise What all these startups have in common is that they are banking on digital technology to excel in their respective markets and industries. Michele Daoud, partner at VC Monk’s Hill Ventures, said in an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review that there have been recent trends of digital-first challengers “attacking” service sectors that have unreasonable incumbent margins. 30

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The pandemic has forced companies to digitalise, and ‘old school sectors’ to open up to innovation and digital-first experiences

Growth for healthcare and education sector Industries used to face-to-face operations have been pushed to go online. Healthcare and education were forced to adopt telemedicine and conduct online classes to operate during the height of the pandemic. According to Daoud of Monk’s Hill Ventures, the rise of such startups like Bot MD, an AI-powered clinical assistant for healthcare professionals, are gaining attention from VCs. “The pandemic has pushed several sectors online including healthcare and education. We believe that these sectors will continue to grow as there’s a growing demand for online services. While vaccine developments and implementation are underway, COVID-19 has accelerated the change in customers’ behavior, and with better digital experiences that shift is not expected to fully revert postpandemic. Examples include the shift towards remote or hybrid learning in schools or the adoption of telemedicine or remote monitoring of health. We’ve seen the growth of edtech and healthtech startups during the pandemic, and this momentum will sustain post-COVID,” Daoud said. The pandemic also boosted startups from healthcare sectors during the pandemic and VCs believe investing in them is considered timely. Not about survival Daoud said that with Monk’s Hill Ventures as first-principles investors, they look for great founders and companies that solve big problems using sound unit economics. “As startups transition to the new normal, it’s not just about survival or pivoting their business models. Founders need to stay focused on their business fundamentals and think about how their solution or product will be received after the downturn,” she added. For Sim of Quest Ventures, she advises startups to think through how they intend to navigate the increasingly competitive landscape to be a leader in their industry.


HOTTEST STARTUPS 2021 1. Next Gen

2. Nextbillion.ai

Founders: Timo Recker and Andre Menezes Funding: Next Gen recently raised $13.3m (US$10m) in a seed round led by Temasek, K3 Ventures, NX Food, FEBE Ventures, and Blue Horizon. Start of operations: 2020

Founders: Gaurav Bubna, Ajay Bulusu, and Shaolin Zheng Funding: It recently raised more than $9.29m (US$7m) in Series A funding round from Lightspeed India Partners and Falcon Edge Capital, as well as top angel investors. Start of operations: 2020

Established early 2020, but only launched in October 2020 because of the pandemic, Next Gen was founded by leaders in the food industry Timo Recker and Andre Menezes to help the world through sustainable food. The company develops and commercialises innovative and sustainable plant-based food products using cutting-edge technology. The startup’s pilot product, TiNDLE which is chicken made from plant-based products have made its debut in stores around Singapore. After Singapore, Next Gen plans to bring their sustainable food products to cities across Asia and international markets.

Founders Ajay Bulusu, Gaurav Bubna and Shaolin Zheng were all part of the senior management team of ride-sharing company Grab before they first started Nextbillion.ai. Nextbillion.ai is a mapping platform built to resolve problems that arise from underlying mapping technology. The technology company provides enterprise-grade fully-managed map data and APIs whose products address the hyper-local nuances and provide tailor-made solutions for specific business needs, based on their data and geography. Meanwhile, the solutions they provide are costeffective, have better accuracy and 10x higher scalability.

3. #dltledgers

4. Zipmex

Founder: Samir Neji Funding: #dltledgers has so far raised some $9.44m (US$7m) in a funding round led by Regis and Savoy Capital, Vittal, and Walden International. Start of operations: 2017

Founders: Marcus Lim and Akalarp Yimwilai Funding: Zipmex raised more than $7.97m (US$6m) in a preSeries A funding round , which was led by US venture capital firm Jump Capital. Start of operations: 2019

#dltledgers is an independent blockchain platform for trade and supply chain finance digitisation, headquartered in Singapore to address the pain points of lack of transparency, visibility and adequate risk-monitoring, in-turn driving a financing gap between capital starved institutions and banks in the traditional trade & supply chain processes. The platform helps corporates and banks to authenticate their commercial documents, contracts, and bank interactions, enabling them to automate multi-party transactions, streamline processes, and reduce cost.

Headquartered in Singapore, Zipmex is a fully licensed international digital trading platform with an empassioned goal to break down barriers, then educate, excite, and enrich everyday people on its fully regulated digital asset platform. It allows investors to trade digital assets including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Services include its interest-bearing accounts ZipUp and ERC-20 token ZMT. The startup is regulated in Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and licenced in Thailand and has plans to turn into a digital assets bank. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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5. BOT MD

6. Popsical

Founders: Dorothea Koh and Yanchuan Sim Funding: They’ve recently raised more than $6.64m (US$5m) in a Series A funding round led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. Other backers were SG Innovate, XA Network and SeaX. Start of operations: 2018

Founders: Fadhli Rahim, Faruq Marican and Umar Abdul Hamid Funding: The company has so far raised a total of $6.9m (US$5m) in a recent Series A funding round led by Quest Ventures and SEEDS Capital. Start of operations: 2017

Bot MD was created to be an AI assistant for doctors that would allow them to improve the efficiency of care and to enable doctors to securely communicate vital patient updates to their teams. Headquartered in Singapore, the company plans to expand to other countries in Asia-Pacific including Indonesia, Malaysia, India and the Philippines. Currently, 13,000 doctors and organisations such as Changi General Hospital, National University Cancer Institute of Singapore, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Parkway Radiology and the National Kidney Transplant Institute used the company’s AI assistant.

Popsical was founded in Singapore in 2016 by three karaoke enthusiasts who were determined to revolutionise the at-home karaoke experience. They came up with the concept of a simple to use, plug-and-play system that updates itself and can be controlled from any smartphone whilst being affordable and available to everyone. Popsicle soon followed with a second generation product, Popsical Remix, that a suite of vocal effects that can be controlled directly from the Popsical Karaoke mobile app. It has a unique self-updating library of over 200,000 songs in 14 languages.

7. Lendela

8. ION mobility

Founder: Nima Karimi Funding: Lendela recently brought in $2.65m (US$2m) raised through a pre-Series A funding round led by Promise Future International and 2be.lu. Investments. Start of operations: 2018

Founders: James Chan and Joel Chang Funding: Ion Mobility raised $4.39m in its last funding round led by Monk’s Hill Ventures, TNB Aura, Village Global, the 500 Durians fund, an AngelCentral syndicate, kipleX and Seeds Capital. Start of operations: 2019

Introducing a new model to an industry that is traditionally very conservative was the biggest challenge consumer-centric lending platform Lendela had to face when they first started back in 2018. It started to educate lenders and banks to quell skepticism. As a lending platform, Lendela’s unique way of matching a multitude of partner lenders and giving borrowers access to the best rates in the market is their edge against competitors. The platform also deals with the more pressing problems like tedious and time-consuming loan applications by simplifying the process for borrowers.

Founded by automotive industry veteran Joel Chang and tech venture capitalist and entrepreneur James Chan, ION Mobility is a smart electric motorbike company aiming to answer Southeast Asia’s market demand for motorbikes with a more sustainable and affordable option but superior than their petrol-based counterpats. This year, Ion Mobility started team expansion in Indonesia and is set to further grow its team and operations across Singapore, Jakarta and Shenzhen, develop its in-house research and development capabilities, and build up its supply chain and manufacturing partnerships.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


HOTTEST STARTUPS 2021 9. Neuroglee

10. Volopay

Founder: Aniket Singh Rajput Funding: The company raised more than $3m in a pre-seed funding round led by Japan pharmaceutical company Eisai Co. and the CEO of Biofourmis Kuldeep Singh Rajput. Start of operations: 2020

Founders: Rajith Shaji and Rajesh Raikwar Funding: Volopay has total funding of more than $2.92m (US$2.2m) from investors such as Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen. Start of operations: 2019

This healthcare startup aims to help those suffering from neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, using its digital therapeutic platform created specifically to treat patients in the early stages of the disease. They combine cognitive rehabilitation strategies and a machine learning approach to enable their platform to empower patients, families and clinicians by helping to preserve cognition and independence. Their main product, NG-001, is a software that was designed to work in tune with medication and other treatments.

Volopay provides startups and companies with a financial control centre that allows them to easily and seamlessly manage a wide range of operational processes. These include typical business spending, employee reimbursements, money remittances, and online subscriptions. The platform also provides access to credit and accounting integrations. It does this by offering services such as physical and virtual cards that can manage marketing SaaS spending and gives companies a platform money transfer for both local and international. Its automated accounting can track every transaction that helps many clients to manage ongoing cash flow requirements and continue to scale their businesses.

11. Qapita

12. Karana

Founders: Ravi Ravulaparthi, Lakshman Gupta and Vamsee Mohan Funding: Qapita raised $2.44m (US1.8m) in seed funding in September last year, led by Vulcan Capital and other prominent early-stage investors. Start of operations: 2019

Founders: Dan Riegler and Blair Crichton Funding: Raised $2.24m (US$1.7m) in a seed funding round led by Henry Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin Corp, Big Idea Ventures, Germi8, and Asia-based FMCG distributor Real Tech. Start of operations: 2018

Founded to address inefficiencies in the private-market, Qapita is a SaaS business model that digitises the record systems for equity ownership, or captables. Their platform also serves as a one-stop repository of all legal documents relating to equity such as the relevant filings, share certificates, shareholder agreements, and more. Furthermore, Qapita uses a softwarebased approach to “succinctly, accurately, continuously, and systematically” communicate Employee Share Option Plans (ESOPs) to each employee.

Karana was established after its founders saw a market gap for a new generation of plant-based meats that are minimally processed. Using edible undervalued plants with meat-like textures such as jackfruit, Karana created many different meat alternatives to sustainably feed the planet. The company zeroed in on pork alternatives as it is the number one consumed meat, especially in Asia. Karana sources their main ingredient, jackfruits, from Sri Lanka. The company’s research and development are currently focused on turning more edible plants to become meat alternatives. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

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HOTTEST STARTUPS 2021 13. BRDA Pte Ltd

14. UI-licious

Founders: Andy Low (pictured), Ding Xiao Qiang, Dr Li Ce Funding: BRDA currently has more than $1.9m (US$1.5m) in funding, received from angel investor and local businessman Henry Neo. Start of operations: 2020

Founders: Shi Ling Tai and Eugene Cheah Funding: The company recently raised $2.02m (US$1.5m) in a pre-Series A funding round, led largely by the Singapore-based VC firm Monk’s Hill Ventures. Start of operations: 2016

How would you monetize data? This was the question in the minds of BRDA Pte Ltd founders Andy Low, Ding Xiao Qiang and Dr Li Ce when they first formed the company. The firm aims to help its partners better utilize data to develop innovative products and access to new markets. BRDA partners with these companies who provides data and together they create data products.The firm leverages their strong market presence in China to test and build on their technology to better help them collaborate with data owners to properly monetize their data, by developing innovative data products to gain access to new markets.

UI-licious is a unique software testing automation platform that allows software teams to effortlessly test and monitor end-totest user journeys for their web applications across all browsers. With the UI-licious software, users may write the test without needing to know how to code, or even how to decipher the target website’s underlying HTML and CSS code. Furthermore, the platform is both interactive and intuitive. Testers can send UI-licious reports to show exactly the how, when and where a particular defect is in applications, allowing bug-fixing teams to resolve these issues faster.

15. Krosslinker

16. Propseller

Founders: Gayathri Natarajan, Elmira Soghrati, and Mahesh Nathan Funding: Secured $1.66m (US$1.25m) in a seed funding round, led by the 500 Durians Fund, Entrepreneur First, and Seedscapital. Start of operations: 2019

Founder: Adrien Jorge Funding: Raised $1.5m (US$1.2m) with investments from Iterative, Hustle Fund, XA Network, Rapzo Capital, Stein Jakob, and Ben Neve, among other private investors. Start of operations: 2018

Founded by three scientists, Krosslinker develops advanced thermal insulation materials that are cheaper with low-energy consumption and reduced carbon footprint. Their first product serves the cold-chain biopharma packaging industry, and with its high-performance thermal insulation material, it protects temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, precious biologics and vaccines throughout their shipping journey. With the company’s technology, aerogels are produced at triple the rate compared to traditional methods. 34

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Combining technology and real estate, Propseller banks on its tech-powered real estate agency platform to offer the most reliable way to successfully and efficiently sell, buy or rent a property. The company utilises in-house agents who have at least four years experience in real estate and are specialised by area whilst banking on technology to help ease every transaction. The company’s technology helps with vital real estate tasks such as accurate property valuations. With inhouse agents, the platform has reduced standard commission fees to 1% from the usual 2%.


HOTTEST STARTUPS 2021 17. Appboxo

18. ACKTEC Technologies

Founders: Kaniyet Rayev and Nursultan Keneshbekov Funding: Appboxo has snagged $1.45m (US$1.1m) in seed funding, in a round led by FF APAC Scout, 500 Durians Fund, Plug and Play Ventures and Antler. Start of operations: 2019

Founder: Rayvan Ho Funding: ACKTEC Technologies raised $1.35m (US$1m) in an initial seed funding round, led by local Singaporean family office Octava. Start of operations: 2018

The growing demand in the mobile app market, has powered Singapore-based technology company Appboxo to create what they call ‘apps in a box’ for super apps.The company developed a suite of developer tools that when integrated into apps can offer seamless or native-like experience of miniapps. Using their platform, a company’s super app can access Appboxo’s showroom where various miniapps are ready for integration. They have more than 80 international partners in their showroom for super apps to access. They are planning to be a global operating system for mobile commerce and currently discussing regional partnerships.

ACKTEC specialises in providing digital learning ecosystems, structuring and digitising learning and development (L&D) content for educational organizations, large-scale multinationals, companies in their growth stages, as well as companies scaling beyond their borders. Through its immersive learning platform ACKTEC Learn, ACKTEC helps organisations and institutions transform their existing L&D content into immersive learning modules that are able to utilise augmented and virtual reality, as well as interactive 3-dimensional platforms.

19. In-d.ai

20. OrderEZ

Founder: Siddhartha S Funding: Raised $500k (US$$374k) seed funding from Datamesh Investments Pte Ltd. Singapore, as well as half of its planned $750k bridge round. Start of operations: 2018

Founders: Andrew Creswick and Jeffrey Meese Funding: Recently raised $500k (US$$374k) in a seed funding round from private investors with aims to solidify its operations in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Start of operations: 2019

IN-D.ai was originally the artificial intelligence lab of Intain, a start-up building a blockchain based capital markets platform. Part of the fourth cohort for EY’s startup incubator EY Foundry, In-d.ai is an AI-powered platform for locationagnostic, agile and low-cost digital operations, from performing KYC checks to processing insurance claims or managing accounts payables. The company uses cognitive solutions to help organisations to read, understand and extract information from documents and images like a human would do but without the costs and human errors.

OrderEZ is a business management platform that caters specifically for F&B businesses, helping to digitalise many of the manual processes involved in hospitality work. With their platform, founders Andrew Creswick and Jeffrey Meese introduced an efficient, yet simple and scalable tech infrastructure. OrderEZ uses its end-to-end business management platform to help F&B suppliers and venues to use real-time data and seamless platform integrations to help businesses digitise supply chain processes, centralise business management and generate more revenue. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

35


OSTEOPORE INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD was awarded the

MADE IN SINGAPORE 2020 (Medical category) for its

Osteomesh for Orthopaedic device at the

MADE IN SINGAPORE and DESIGNED IN SINGAPORE awards presented by Singapore Business Review Lim Jing, PhD

Chief Technology Officer Osteopore International Pte Ltd

Empowering Natural Tissue Regeneration 36

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Osteopore International Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of Osteopore Ltd (ASX:OSX) a publicly traded company on the Australian stock exchange since 23 September 2019.


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37


RANKINGS: INSURANCE INDUSTRY

Insurers’ reliance on third-party service providers increased during the circuit-breaker

Local insurers confident in the face of global slowdown Singapore Business Review’s annual rankings reveals that the city’s top insurers gained $236b in assets over the year prior to the pandemic.

E

ven though the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may linger a little bit longer, the Singapore insurance industry is confident about its ability to serve customers whilst balancing cybersecurity needs and sustainability, and is looking to remain buoyant as the border reopens and the economy bounces back. Singapore Business Review’s annual review of the Lion City’s insurance sector revealed that its top 49 insurers gained 21.1% to $263b in terms of assets in 2019. Great Eastern Life Assurance still reigned supreme with $61b in assets, a 19% jump from $51b in 2018. AIA Singapore followed in second place, recording a 19% increase to $51b from $43b in 2018. Prudential Singapore came in at third place with $45b, NTUC income placed fourth with a 14.1% growth to $40b, and Manulife Singapore rounded up the top five with $19b. Uncertainties in several factors may continue over a longer period, as shown in a PwC sector report, which ranges from regulatory measures to lower sales volumes to underwriting volatility. Insurers also have to be wary about deteriorating consumer risk

38

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Growing instances of supply chain attacks has led MAS to bolster its rules for financial institutions’ dependence on third-party providers

profiles due to lapses in coverage. And with rapid digitisation and rise of remote working come increased data and cyber risks, as insurers need to ensure that their digital capabilities can support their operations without sacrificing network security. Notwithstanding all these pain points, insurers are still determined to prioritise the needs of their customers. The General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) will continue to bolster resilience amongst general insurers over the next 12 months which will allow them to extend better support to clients now and in the long term, its president Craig Ellis told SBR in an email interview. Likewise, Aviva Singapore will not be complacent even if the economy is showing signs of recovery, chief information officer Santosh Gon assured. “In the next twelve months, we will maintain our momentum of adapting to recovery, and focus on leveraging technology disruptions and driving digital customer innovations,” Gon said. Regarding consumer demands, AXA Insurance is seeing customers who are more concerned about

securing their futures amidst uncertainties, said its chief customer and operations officer Jeremy Ong. This is in line with PwC’s observation that customers will gravitate from investment-centered products towards protection-focused policies. “In January, we launched Singapore’s first prenatal plan offering free health insurance coverage for newborns as a way to encourage parents to take a longterm view for their unborn child’s future insurance needs as early as possible,” Ong explained. On the other hand, Aviva’s Gon noticed that clients are moving away from premiums that cover for more than 10 years. “The demand for premiums with a shorter shelf life calls for new, simple and transparent products that can be bought at greater convenience.” There is also an ongoing need for insurers to reassess the service that they deliver to clients, in which accelerated use of technology will be a key, added Gon. Nonetheless, clients will still turn to their financial advisors “because of the personal touch they bring,” he explained. This observation was echoed by Ellis, who cited a GIA joint survey with YouGov saying that even digitalsavvy younger customers are still yearning for a human touch. “Our sector is making sure that general insurance protection remains accessible to all and that changing needs continue to be met in an ever-changing market environment. To do so, we are ensuring that our digital capabilities, whilst much more efficient, still effectively recreate the in-person and advice-based relationships customers are looking for today,” Ellis said. To address evolving demands, PwC recommends that insurers must evaluate product design and pricing, especially where investment returns are priced in and tax advantages are expected. Moreover, the sector must gain a deeper understanding of future risk and varying risk profiles. “Risk management guidelines provided to customers will need to be adapted to ensure they appropriately plan for pandemicrelated risk that may emerge in the


RANKINGS: INSURANCE INDUSTRY Insurers also have to be wary about deteriorating consumer risk profiles due to lapses in coverage

Insurers are still determined to prioritise the needs of their customers

future, particularly for business interruption and liability products,” PwC said. Insurers’ reliance on outsourced and third-party service providers to carry out key business activities has increased during the circuitbreaker period, PwC has observed. Working with third-party providers is important for Aviva to remain at par with the latest technologies and focus on core competencies, explained Gon. “More IT service providers are moving to the cloud—a form of third-party provider, which is highly reliable and offers shorter time to market. Contrastingly, relying solely on on-premise solutions is cost and timeconsuming,” Gon added. However, the growing incidents of supply chain attacks has led the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to fortify its rules for financial institutions (FIs) as well as their dependence on third-party providers and services. The revised guidelines have urged the sector to build a strong process for timely analysis and sharing of cyber threat intelligence within the ecosystem, as well as to conduct cyber exercises to stress test defences through simulating tactics and techniques that are used by real-world attackers. In addition, institutions must assess its risk exposure that may affect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its IT systems and data before entering into an agreement with a third party.

Perhaps most importantly in the context of third-party providers, “the FI should ensure the third party employs a high standard of care and diligence in protecting data confidentiality and integrity as well as ensuring system resilience,” MAS said. The move was welcomed by the sector, with insurers saying that it provides a common framework for institutions and their suppliers whilst keeping pace with the evolving cyber landscape. GIA’s Craig does not think that the new guidelines will lead to a reduction in dependence on third-party providers; instead, he expects that their presence will increase and the guidelines should cement the need for risk assessment and management of such providers. “Aviva is keenly aware that reliance on third-party service providers should not result in any deterioration of controls and compromise of risk management. We are committed to only working with vendors who reflect our high standards of security, particularly in the areas of customer and payment data,” Gon assured. In terms of data sharing, Aviva and AXA are both keen to work with MAS for the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex). According to Ong, not only will it grant customers a comprehensive view of their financial information, it will also help advisers streamline the financial planning process. “Aviva is working closely

with MAS and other financial institutions to identify challenges and implement solutions to ensure financial information can be safely exchanged to provide customers a comprehensive view of their portfolio,” Gon noted. Both insurers also highlighted their own initiatives and projects in ensuring a more sustainable future in their operations. Aviva has started cutting the frequency of its business travel even before the pandemic started, which yielded a 40% drop in its carbon emissions footprint, Gon said. It has also been pushing for lower paper consumption and zero-waste amongst its employees. AXA has also been taking into account ESG considerations in its investments by investing in green assets and impact funds, Ong said. The general insurance sector remains committed to the Singapore government’s efforts in advancing its national sustainable development agenda, Ellis said. GIA has been made a strategic partner of the Green Finance Industry Taskforce, which aims to champion a green outlook in the business community through a new environmental risk management handbook, amongst other key initiatives. The association is also working towards the launch of the GlobalAsia Insurance Partnership in collaboration with MAS which will establish a centre of excellence for insurance and risk management in the region, Ellis shared. “This is a tripartite partnership amongst regulators, academics, and the global insurance and financial service industry aiming to address the future development and needs of our sector with the support of global collaborators.” “We are optimistic about what the future brings. Taking these valuable lessons and our shared purpose of protecting livelihoods with us in our journey, general insurers remain committed to steering Singapore towards post-pandemic recovery and driving progress for our industry,” Ellis concluded. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

39


RANKINGS: INSURANCE INDUSTRY 2019 TOTAL ASSETS*

2019 RANKING

2018 TOTAL ASSETS

LIFE

$61b

1

$51b

GENERAL/LIFE

$51b

2

$43b

LIFE

$45b

3

$38b

NTUC INCOME INSURANCE CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED

GENERAL/LIFE

$40b

4

$35b

5

MANULIFE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD.

LIFE

$19b

5

$11b

6

AVIVA LTD

GENERAL/LIFE

$10b

6

$9b

7

TOKIO MARINE LIFE INSURANCE SINGAPORE LTD

LIFE

$8b

7

$7b

8

HSBC INSURANCE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LIMITED

LIFE

$7b

8

$6b

9

AXA LIFE INSURANCE SINGAPORE PRIVATE LIMITED

LIFE

$4b

9

$3b

10

TRANSAMERICA LIFE (BERMUDA) LTD.

LIFE

$4b

10

$2b

11

QUILTER INTERNATIONAL ISLE OF MAN LIMITED SINGAPORE BRANCH

LIFE

$2b

11

$1b

12

ETIQA INSURANCE PTE. LTD.

GENERAL/LIFE

$1b

13

$863m

13

SWISS LIFE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD.

LIFE

$1b

12

$995m

14

FRIENDS PROVIDENT INTERNATIONAL LTD (S'PORE BRANCH)

LIFE

$997m

15

$836m

15

MS FIRST CAPITAL INSURANCE LIMITED

GENERAL

$686m

14

$859m

16

MUNICH RE

GENERAL/LIFE

$834m

22

$435m

17

ZURICH INTERNATIONAL LIFE LIMITED (S'PORE BRANCH)

LIFE

$830m

16

$751m

18

AXA CORPORATE SOLUTIONS ASSURANCE SINGAPORE BRANCH

GENERAL

$615m

41

$39m

19

MSIG INSURANCE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD.

GENERAL

$568m

19

$559m

20

INDIA INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE PTE LTD

GENERAL

$548m

20

$529m

21

AIG ASIA PACIFIC INSURANCE PTE. LTD.

GENERAL

$538m

18

$669m

22

SWISS REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED

GENERAL/LIFE

$432m

21

$504m

23

CHUBB INSURANCE SINGAPORE LIMITED

GENERAL

$430m

24

$387m

24

TOKIO MARINE INSURANCE SINGAPORE LTD

GENERAL

$426m

23

$424m

25

LIBERTY INSURANCE PTE LTD

GENERAL

$367m

25

$364m

26

CHINA TAIPING INSURANCE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD.

GENERAL

$353m

26

$316m

27

UNITED OVERSEAS INSURANCE LTD

GENERAL

$258m

27

$238m

28

GREAT EASTERN GENERAL INSURANCE LIMITED

GENERAL/LIFE

$237m

31

$175m

29

QBE INSURANCE (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD.

GENERAL

$224m

28

$204m

30

SOMPO INSURANCE SINGAPORE PTE. LTD.

GENERAL

$213m

29

$200m

31

ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE COMPANY, LTD, S'PORE BRANCH

GENERAL

$208m

34

$153m

32

SINGAPORE REINSURANCE CORPORATION LTD

GENERAL

$202m

30

$193m

33

XL INSURANCE COMPANY PLC, SINGAPORE BRANCH

GENERAL

$195m

35

$146m

35

ALLIANZ GLOBAL CORPORATE & SPECIALTY AG, S BRANCH

GENERAL

$184m

32

$171m

36

ASIA CAPITAL REINSURANCE GROUP PTE LTD

GENERAL/LIFE

$164m

33

$155m

37

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

GENERAL

$129m

36

$137m

38

PARTNER REINSURANCE ASIA PTE. LTD.

GENERAL/LIFE

$75m

38

$71m

39

SWISS RE INTERNATIONAL SE, SINGAPORE BRANCH

GENERAL

$75m

37

$73m

2020 RANKING

INSURANCE COMPANY

1

THE GREAT EASTERN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED

3

AIA SINGAPORE PRIVATE LIMITED

2

PRUDENTIAL ASSURANCE CO. SINGAPORE (PTE) LTD

4

40

EVEREST REINSURANCE COMPANY

GENERAL

$42m

40

$44m

41

THE TOA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED

GENERAL

$41m

43

$37m $46m

42

SCOR REINSURANCE ASIA-PACIFIC PTE LTD

GENERAL/LIFE

$40m

39

34

XL BERMUDA LTD

GENERAL

$39m

42

$38m

43

AXIS SPECIALTY LIMITED (SINGAPORE BRANCH)

GENERAL

$35m

44

$36m

44

SCOR GLOBAL LIFE SE SINGAPORE BRANCH

LIFE

$27m

46

$18m

45

ODYSSEY REINSURANCE COMPANY

GENERAL

$21m

45

$22m

46

SIRIUS INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE CORPORATION

GENERAL

$18m

47

$17m

47

ALLIANZ SE, SINGAPORE BRANCH

GENERAL/LIFE

$17m

48

$15m

48

ENDURANCE SPECIALTY INSURANCE LTD, SINGAPORE BRANCH

GENERAL

$7m

49

$8m

49

IAG RE SINGAPORE PTE LTD

GENERAL

0

50

TOTAL

$264b 21.09% increase

*Data are derived from Monetary Authority of Singapore’s 2019 Insurance Statistics 40

Classification

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

0 $218b


SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021 AZAwardAdFINAL.indd 1

41

23/2/21 6:14 PM


RANKINGS: MBA PROGRAMMES

Top MBA providers in Singapore shares trends amongst MBA candidates

MBAs in hot pursuit, as pandemic ignites demand for future skills

More MBA students upskill as they anticipate a high post-pandemic competition.

E

ntrepreneurs and professionals looking to competitively position themselves in the fast-changing business landscape amidst the pandemic have driven the MBA scene this year. Not only did they prompt MBA providers to develop innovative approaches, their selectiveness also paved the way for new tech-focused courses. In this year’s Singapore Business Review rankings, the INSEAD MBA once again emerged as the largest MBA programme with 915 students enrolled in 2021. The multi-campus educator likewise snatched the top spot amongst MBA providers in Singapore last year. Ranking second is the James Cook University MBA with 240 students, nearly landing on a tie with the SP Jain Master of Global Business, which came in as the third largest with 239 students. 42

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

As for the MBA providers, INSEAD was followed by SP Jain School of Global Management (SP Jain Global) with a total of 637 students from its four programmes and the National University of Singapore (NUS) with 374. The overall number of MBA students fell slightly by 6.9% to 3,418 this year, compared to 3,671 students in 2020. It must be noted that the 2020 numbers took into account 33 different programmes, and this was reduced to 25 this year. Future-proofing careers Top providers have observed MBA applicants are largely interested in taking courses that centre on technology and digitalisation. Such skills are becoming more and more relevant as the world gravitates toward contactless and online solutions. “There is a small but growing

There is interest in MBA programs with an emphasis on entrepreneurship

proportion of MBA applicants looking to further their studies due to the job market. Interest has grown for MBA programs with a focus on Industry 4.0 including technology, digitalisation, and analytics,” said Andrew Chew, Chief Commercial Officer of James Cook University, Singapore (JCU). “Also, despite the pandemic some young people are starting their own businesses and there is interest in MBA programs with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.” Starting 2020, JCU has offered six new majors: namely, Analytics and Business Solutions, Creative Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Talent Management, and MICE, Tourism and Hospitality. Chew noted the new majors resulted in a higher interest in their MBA programme as seen in the increase of enrollees.


RANKINGS: MBA PROGRAMMES There is an interest in pursuing a dual Master’s leading to more opportunities for senior leadership

Applicants prefer tech-focused courses as leverage for the inevitable digitalisation journey of most employers

The Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Nanyang Business School (NBS) also saw interest amongst applicants for tech-focused courses, intended to differentiate those working in a highly competitive environment, particularly those in the Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians segment. “Many of our MBA candidates are looking for technologically oriented management courses to increase their tech know-how, which they can leverage for their organisation’s digitalisation journey. Thus, more professionals are considering the Nanyang MBA as a suitable programme for upskilling,” NBS Graduate Studies Deputy Director Gilbert Chua said. SP Jain Global President Nitish Jain said whilst uncertainty clouds over Singapore as the pandemic presents new challenges, reputable institutions are still able to attract students looking to take advantage of their time to prepare for the new normal. “There is much uncertainty on how long would this last, would it get worse before it gets better and what would the impact be on employment. However, business schools with a solid reputation continue to attract students who are taking advantage of the lull to gear up for a post COVID period,” he said. SP Jain Global adjusted its Executive MBA programme by offering On-Campus (Blended Learning Format) and Engage Learning Online (ELO) options, which has 138 and 162 students enrolled, respectively. Nitish said the ELO allows

the SP Jain Global to replicate a classroom virtually, as opposed to other technologies designed for office meetings, that fail to deliver eye contact between professors and students. On top of this, students were given study options, including studying in other SP Jain campuses in Dubai, Mumbai and Sydney. For INSEAD, Global Director of Admissions Virgenie Fougea noticed applications for their MBA programme increased overall, which is partially due to the way the Singapore government managed the COVID crisis. She said other factors for the increase could be the general perception on taking an MBA in Singapore, considering its competitive and innovative economy. In addition, Prateek Nayak, regional director for Southeast Asia of Amity Global Institute, said the trend amongst professionals to upgrade their skills is not exclusive in Singapore as he saw interest amongst students from as far as South Africa, France, North America and the Netherlands. More students enrolled in the University of London and University of Northampton MBA programmes, both under Amity Global Institute, which Nayak linked to the flexibility of online learning. “The flexibility to balance work and personal life and at the same time there are some exciting and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered by institutions across the globe,” he said. Moreover, Kaplan Higher Education President Joe Keen Poon said there is an interest amongst MBA

takers for dual Master degrees. “Another trend we have seen is interest in pursuing a dual Master’s - MBA combined with another Master’s specialisation – that enhances the value of learning, which might be relevant to the learner’s current career, leading to more opportunities for senior leadership,” he said. Keeping students engaged Perhaps amongst the key challenges of pursuing studies in the time of COVID is bringing the professorstudent engagement in the normal setup to the virtual classroom and ensuring learning is effective in such a major shift. Over the past year, INSEAD took the time to better understand the new learning process and developed a teaching strategy. This includes starting the class with a poll to gauge the “virtual temperature,” translating key discussions into multiple choice polls every ten minutes to mark transition of lessons and regularly sending students to “Break Out Rooms” where students can deepen their discussions. In 2020, INSEAD offered a new MBA course on Advanced Negotiations and an elective on Negotiating your Career. Starting May 2021, it will open a new elective on diversity, equity and inclusion which will be taught by Professor Zoe Kinias to MBA and Master in Management (MIM) students. Meanwhile, at Amity Global Institute students are given collaborative learning spaces, called the “Classroom of the Future,” that support both professors and students in navigating the interconnected world. This also allows educators to promote social learning and maximum engagement. On top of this, they have taken initiative to record classes, which they upload in clouds accessible to students who fail to attend classes due to work and other personal commitments. For its part, tech-focused NTU invested in a hybrid learning system and redesigned its course delivery. It has also embedded issues of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sustainability, agile leadership and technology and innovation in its curriculum. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

43


RANKINGS: MBA PROGRAMMES MBA PROGRAMME

PROVIDER/LOCAL PARTNER

Total Number of Students 2020

HEAD OF SINGAPORE OFFICE/DEAN

INSEAD MBA

INSEAD

1008

Ilian Mihov

James Cook University MBA

James Cook University, Singapore

246

Prof. Chris Rudd OBE

S P Jain Master of Global Business

S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore

239

Dr. Balakrishna Grandhi

The NUS MBA (including MBA-MPP & MBA-PhD) and and Double Degree (Peking University, HEC, Yale)

National University of Singapore

161

Andrew K. Rose

Manchester Global Master of Business Administration

Alliance Manchester Business School

219

Lim Bee Ing

University of Northampton - MBA

Amity Global Institute

73

Leon Choong

S P Jain Executive MBA (Engaged Learning Online)

S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore

NEW

Dr. Gary Stockport

Singapore Management University MBA

Singapore Management University

146

Gerry George

S P Jain Executive MBA On Campus (Blended Learning Format)

S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore

172

Dr. Gary Stockport

University of Birmingham MBA

SIM Global Education

120

Kelly Yeo

S P Jain Global Master of Business Administration

S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore

98

Dr. Balakrishna Grandhi

University of London MBA

Amity Global Institute

62

Leon Choong

The NUS Executive MBA (in Chinese)

National University of Singapore

83

Andrew K. Rose

Murdoch University MBA

Kaplan Higher Education

140

Prof. Peter Waring

Nanyang Professional MBA

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

50

Prof. Christina Soh

University of Roehampton, London

Aventis School of Management

79

Stanley Soh

Nanyang MBA

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

90

Prof. Christina Soh

The NUS Executive MBA (in English)

National University of Singapore

51

Andrew K. Rose

Kaplan Higher Education

40

Dr. Jacqueline Holland

50

Prof. Christina Soh

35

Prof. Christina Soh

30

Prof. Christina Soh

Northumbria University MBA Nanyang Executive MBA (Chinese) Nanyang Executive MBA Nanyang Fellows MBA

Nanyang Business School & Shanghai Jiao Tong University Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Murdoch University Double Masters Master of Business Administration - Master of Human Resource Management

Kaplan Higher Education

NEW

Prof. Peter Waring

Unversity of Dubuque Iowa (USA) MBA

Aventis School of Management

NEW

Stanley Soh

Murdoch University Double Masters Master of Business Administration - Master of Business Administration + Master of Information Technology (Data Science)

Kaplan Higher Education

NEW

Prof. Peter Waring

GENERAL FIGUES SHOW TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS AS OF 31 JANUARY 2019

44

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


RANKINGS: MBA PROGRAMMES TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS Minimum Cost (SG$)

Number of Intakes Per Year

Duration

Full-time

Part-time

915

N/A

$141,175.80

N/A

10 months

N/A

2

240

12

$37,236

$37,236

12 months

12 months

3

239

N/A

$38,091.19

N/A

16 months

N/A

3

116

110

$69,550

$69,550

17 months

24 months

1

N/A

205

$68,167.56

N/A

N/A

18-24 months

2

97

81

$23,540

$16,050

12 months

12 months

3

N/A

162

N/A

$21,941.17

N/A

18 months

6

86

65

$66,340

$68,480

10-15 months

18 months

2

N/A

138

N/A

$36,968.50

N/A

18 months

2

N/A

123

N/A

$36,273

N/A

24 months

4

98

N/A

$46,431.82

N/A

12 months

N/A

2

14

83

$23,538.93

$23,538.93

12 months

12 months

4

N/A

93

N/A

$141,346

N/A

24 months

1

$22,020

$22,020

12 months

12 months

3

N/A

70

N/A

$65,000

N/A

18 months

1

N/A

69

N/A

$22,800

N/A

10 months

4

60

N/A

$62,000

N/A

12 months

N/A

1

N/A

55

N/A

$108,630

N/A

15 months

1

$21,800

$21,800

15 months

15 months

4

N/A

50

N/A

$128,600

N/A

24 months

1

N/A

35

N/A

$100,000

N/A

14 months

1

25

N/A

$75,000

N/A

12 months

N/A

1

$28,320

$28,320

16 months

16 months

3

N/A

14

N/A

$22,800

N/A

12 months

4

N/A

33

$35,280

$35,280

24 months

24 months

3

*NEW ON THE LIST **FIGURES RETAINED FROM 2018 DATA *** ESTIMATED FIGURES SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

45


RANKINGS: MBA PROVIDERS MBA PROVIDER INSEAD

MBA PROGRAMME INSEAD MBA

HEAD OF SINGAPORE OFFICE/ DEAN Ilian Mihov

TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS Full Time

Part Time

915

N/A GRAND TOTAL

S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore

S P Jain Global Master of Business Administration S P Jain Executive MBA On Campus (Blended Learning Format) S P Jain Executive MBA (Engaged Learning Online) S P Jain Master of Global Business

Dr. Balakrishna Grandhi

98

N/A

Dr. Gary Stockport

N/A

138

Dr. Gary Stockport

N/A

162

Dr. Balakrishna Grandhi

239

N/A GRAND TOTAL

National University of Singapore Business School

The NUS Executive MBA (in Chinese)

Andrew K. Rose

N/A

93

The NUS Executive MBA (in English)

Andrew K. Rose

N/A

55

The NUS MBA (including MBA-MPP & MBA-PhD) and Double Degree (Peking University, HEC, Yale)

Andrew K. Rose

116

110 GRAND TOTAL

Amity Global Business School

University of Northampton, MBA

Leon Choong

97

81

University of London MBA

Leon Choong

14

83 GRAND TOTAL

James Cook University, Singapore

James Cook University MBA

Prof. Chris Rudd OBE

240

12 GRAND TOTAL

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Nanyang Executive MBA

Christina Soh

N/A

35

Nanyang Fellows MBA

Christina Soh

25

N/A

Nanyang MBA

Christina Soh

60

N/A

Nanyang Professional MBA

Christina Soh

N/A

70

Nanyang Business School & Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Nanyang Executive MBA (Chinese)*

Christina Soh

N/A

50

University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School

Manchester Global Master of Business Administration

GRAND TOTAL Lim Bee Ing

N/A

205 GRAND TOTAL

Kaplan Higher Education

Northumbria University MBA

Dr. Jacqueline Holland

N/A

N/A

Murdoch University MBA

Prof. Peter Waring

N/A

N/A

Prof. Peter Waring

N/A

N/A

Prof. Peter Waring

N/A

N/A

Murdoch University Double Masters Master of Business Administration - Master of Human Resource Management Murdoch University Double Masters Master of Business Administration - Master of Business Administration + Master of Information Technology (Data Science)

GRAND TOTAL Singapore Management University*

Singapore Management University MBA

Gerry George

86

65 GRAND TOTAL

SIM Global Education

University of Birmingham MBA

Kelly Yeo

N/A

123 GRAND TOTAL

Aventis School of Management

University of Roehampton, London

Stanley Soh

N/A

69

Unversity of Dubuque Iowa (USA) MBA

Stanley Soh

N/A

14 GRAND TOTAL

46

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


RANKINGS: MBA PROVIDERS Minimum Cost (SG$)

TOTAL

Duration

Number of Intakes Per Year

Full Time

Part Time

Full Time

Part Time

$141,165.61

N/A

~10 months

N/A

2

$46,421.01

N/A

12 months

N/A

2

N/A

$36,968.50

N/A

18 months

2

N/A

$29,568.13

N/A

18 months

6

$38,078.25

N/A

16 months

N/A

3

N/A

$141,346

N/A

24 months

1

N/A

$108,630

N/A

15 months

1

$69,550

$69,550

17 months

24 months

1

$23,540

$16,050

12 months

12 months

3

$23,538.93

$23,538.93

12 months

12 months

4

$37,236

$37,236

12 months

12 months

3

915

637

374

275

252 N/A

$100,000

N/A

14 months

1

$75,000

N/A

12 months

NA

1

$62,000

N/A

12 months

NA

1

N/A

$65,000

N/A

18 months

1

N/A

$128,600

N/A

24 months

1

N/A

$68,167.56

N/A

18-24 months

2

$21,800

$21,800

15 months

15 months

4

$22,020

$22,020

12 months

12 months

3

$28,320

$28,320

16 months

16 months

3

$35,280

$35,280

24 months

24 months

3

$66,340

$68,480

10-15 months

18 months

2

N/A

$36,273

N/A

24 months

4

N/A

$22,800

N/A

10 months

4

N/A

$22,800

12 months

4

240

205

168

151

123

83

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

47


EVENT COVERAGE: MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARDS

SBR Management Excellence Awards 2020 recognises top executives and firms

HOSPITALITY & LEISURE- SALES & MARKETING TEAM, PAN PACIFIC HOTELS GROUP MANUFACTURING- HERAEUS MATERIALS SINGAPORE PTE LTD (HERAEUS MEDICAL COMPONENTS) PHARMACEUTICALS- IT & DIGITAL TEAM, ASTRAZENECA SINGAPORE AND ASIA EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT OF THE YEAR HEALTH PRODUCTS & SERVICES- MEDTRONIC APAC PHARMACEUTICALS- KYOWA KIRIN ASIA PACIFIC PTE LTD

COVID MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR AI- UNIPHORE SOFTWARE SYSTEMS PRIVATE LIMITED CYBERSECURITY- ESET ASIA PTE LTD HUMAN RESOURCE TECHNOLOGY- BIPO SERVICE midst the challenges brought upon by the pandemic, company managements are faced with the question of how they can protect (SINGAPORE) PTE LTD IT SERVICES- SMARTEN SPACES their stakeholders whilst effectively maximising opportunities and LIFE INSURANCE- TOKIO MARINE LIFE INSURANCE adapting the digitisation trend. Those who were able to transform amidst the SINGAPORE MANUFACTURING- WACKER CHEMICALS (SOUTH ASIA) PTE. crisis has proved to be the crème de la crème in their respective industries. LTD. Singapore Business Review recognised these companies as it lauded PHARMACEUTICALS- KYOWA KIRIN ASIA PACIFIC PTE LTD outstanding executives and firms at the SBR Management Excellence Awards RETAIL- LAZADA SINGAPORE PTE LTD 2020 held via individual studio presentations and a virtual presentation in December, following social distancing and safety guidelines. Now in its sixth year, Singapore Business Review honours the country’s most outstanding business leaders, including trailblazing teams and individuals whose initiatives have brought tangible business gains for the success of their companies. This year’s winners were judged by an elite panel that includes Irving Low, Partner, Co-Head of Advisory at KPMG in Singapore; Cheang Wai Keat, Head of Consulting at Ernst & Young Advisory Pte. Ltd.; David Chew, Risk Advisory Regional Managing Partner at Deloitte Southeast Asia; Roger Loo, Arctoris Pte Ltd Executive Director, Management Consulting Services at BDO LLP; Yeo Boon Chye, Senior Partner, Head of Assurance at Foo Kon Tan; Lim Wei Wei Partner, Governance & Risk Practice Leader at Baker Tilly TFW LLP.

A

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners:

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES- AARON TAN, CEO AND FOUNDER, CARRO BANKING- VICTOR LEE MENG TECK, CEO, CIMB BANK SINGAPORE BUSINESS SERVICES- SUDHIR AGARWAL, FOUNDER & CEO, EVERISE CYBERSECURITY- PARVINDER WALIA, PRESIDENT ESET ASIA PTE LTD FINANCIAL SERVICES- NEO SAY WEI, CO-FOUNDER AND GROUP CEO, RF INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS PRIVATE LIMITED HEALTH PRODUCTS & SERVICES- CHRIS LEE, PRESIDENT, ASIA PACIFIC, MEDTRONIC APAC HEALTHCARE- SIMRANJIT SINGH, CEO, GUARDANT HEALTH AMEA HOSPITALITY & LEISURE- CHOE PENG SUM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PAN PACIFIC HOTELS GROUP LIFE INSURANCE- CHRISTOPHER TEO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TOKIO MARINE LIFE INSURANCE SINGAPORE TECHNOLOGY- ARVIND MOHAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, IVY MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES PTE LTD TELECOMMUNICATIONS- ADELYN ONG MEEI CHYI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHINA MOBILE INTERNATIONAL (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD. INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR CHEMICALS- DR. MOHAMMAD HOSSEIN DAVOOD ABADI FARAHANI, FOUNDER & CEO, SEPPURE PTE LTD NON-PROFIT OR GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS- KELVIN KONG CHIU WEN, FOUNDER, VOICES OF ASIA BIOTECHNOLOGY- MARTIN-IMMANUEL BITTNER MD DPHIL, CEO, ARCTORIS PTE LTD TECHNOLOGY- SAMIR NEJI, CEO. DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGIES (DLT) PTE LTD TEAM OF THE YEAR BUSINESS SERVICES- BOARDROOM SINGAPORE TEAM DATA CENTER- PRINCETON DIGITAL GROUP – SINGAPORE TEAM HEALTHCARE- GUARDANT HEALTH AMEA TEAM 48

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

AstraZeneca Singapore and Asia

AstraZeneca Singapore and Asia

AstraZeneca Singapore and Asia


BIPO Service (Singapore) Pte Ltd

BoardRoom Singapore

ESET Asia Pte Ltd

Everise

Heraeus Materials Singapore Pte Ltd

Kyowa Kirin Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

Lazada Singapore Pte Ltd

Medtronic APAC

Pan Pacific Hotels Group

Pan Pacific Hotels Group

Princeton Digital Group

Smarten Spaces

Smarten Spaces

Smarten Spaces

Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore

Wacker Chemicals (South Asia) Pte. Ltd

Guardant Health

China Mobile International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

49


EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR - CYBERSECURITY COVID MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR - CYBERSECURITY

ESET leads cyber security efforts to support businesses during the pandemic The company provides cost-effective, cybersecurity tools that allow companies to stay safe even during the crisis. commitment to developing the best in cybersecurity solutions and protecting the digital worlds of our customers, especially during these tumultuous times which has underscored the importance of cybersecurity,” said Parvinder.

Parvinder Walia, ESET President of Asia Pacific and Japan

T

he COVID-19 pandemic has been a tremendous challenge to businesses worldwide, with many companies walking on uncharted territories and enforcing workfrom-home setups just to survive. This sudden shift to remote work has its own challenges, and the risk of cybercrimes have gained momentum at an unprecedented range. Now, businesses are recognising the need to put up more powerful cybersecurity infrastructures so its employees can securely access corporate data even at home. According to ESET President of Asia Pacific and Japan Parvinder Walia, “Cybercriminals have turned to using increasingly complex techniques to deploy highly sophisticated attacks, thus it requires a lot of innovation to stay ahead of the bad actors.” For more than 30 years, ESET has been developing industry-leading IT security software to protect businesses and consumers from digital threats. Recently, the company bagged two awards—COVID Management Initiative of the Year for Cybersecurity and Executive of the Year for Cybersecurity—at the recently concluded Singapore Business Review Management Excellence Awards 2020. The COVID Management Initiative of the Year acknowledges companies that have implemented effective strategies to lessen the economic difficulties brought about by the pandemic, whilst the Executive of the Year award commends leaders whose ideas have driven their company’s growth. “We are proud to be recognised for our

50

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Free online safety and training tools Since the pandemic, ESET has been providing free cybersecurity tools and resources to help its customers and consumers maintain business continuity. “We recognised not all businesses, especially SMBs, had the resources to do so, hence we provided various free cybersecurity tools and resources to support them. These included trial extension of ESET’s business products so businesses could remain protected, and complimentary home licences with limited duration for employees working from home who were using their personal devices,” said Parvinder. The company has also shifted its cybersecurity training for partners online, empowering them to perform thousands of hours of cybersecurity health check for customers across the region for free.

WE ARE PROUD IN OUR COMMITMENT TO DEVELOPING THE BEST IN CYBERSECURITY SOLUTIONS AND PROTECTING THE DIGITAL WORLDS OF OUR CUSTOMERS Affordable, cloud-based security ESET offers cloud capabilities for various businesses to remotely protect their endpoints from cyberthreats. The bundle, which consists of essential security tools that can be deployed and managed remotely, is also affordable, allowing up to 50% savings for customers when compared to purchasing solutions individually. “We created various free cybersecurity resources and checklists for IT admins to help their organisations to transition into the new normal. We also empowered our partners to perform cybersecurity health checks for customers to ensure the right security tools

and policies were being used for effective protection against cyberattacks whilst remote working arrangements were in place,” said Parvinder. “At the end of the day, we were able to help many SMBs to adopt remote working whilst staying protected from cyberthreats,” he added. Parvinder, who also won SMB’s Executive of the Year for Cybersecurity awards last year, has played a key role in setting the company’s regional office in Singapore as a hub of IT excellence across the region. “This award is testament to the journey that I had gone through as one of ESET pioneer staff in the Asia Pacific. I am proud to be part of the team who established our APAC regional office in Singapore more than 10 years ago,” he said. Under his leadership, ESET has experienced 10 years of consecutive growth in the region. He has also expanded the regional office role beyond sales and marketing functions with other areas, such as certification, training and malware research to better support the markets in APAC. “Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to helm multiple roles and to lead an amazing team to expand our brand presence in APAC as well as to deliver ‘real value’ to our partners and customers. I take great pride in what the team has achieved, which resulted in 10 years of consecutive growth in APAC,” he said. Moving forward during and after the pandemic With all these accomplishments on hand, ESET continues to set its eyes on strengthening cybersecurity worldwide. “Having doubled our R&D investment compared to five years ago, we will continue to invest in developing cutting-edge new products and security solutions in the coming months and years to keep our customers safe from advanced cyberthreats,” said Parvinder. He also said ESET will continue to research and monitor cybersecurity threats and trends. “We will constantly monitor and research the global threat landscape, and these findings and updates are always available to the public on ESET’s Research blog at www.welivesecurity.com,” he added.


Learn more: eset.com/sg

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

51


Medical Components

YOUR PA R T NE R IN BRINGING BE T T E R ME DIC A L DE V ICE S T O M A R K E T. VISIT HER AEUSMEDICALCOMPONENT S.COM 52

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


Accelerate Your Expansion Into Asia’s Most Dynamic Digital Economies We deliver scalable and reliable internet inf rastructure through our 18 carrier and cloud-neutral data center facilities in 12 cities, across 4 countries, and counting. Email us at visitus@princetondg.com to book a guided data center tour. www.princetondg.com

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

53


EVENT COVERAGE: MADE IN & DESIGNED IN SINGAPORE AWARDS

SBR hails the most innovative products and solutions of 2020

A

s one of the leading manufacturing hubs in the region, Singaporean companies never fail to bring new and innovative products to the table which proved to assist users, especially during these trying times. In an effort to recognise products and initiatives that proved to be an industry game changer in their respective sectors, SBR hailed 13 companies at the recently concluded Made in Singapore Awards and Designed in Singapore Awards 2020. The awards were handed via digital and individual studio award presentations during the first and second weeks of December due to the pandemic. Winning companies were also interviewed throughout to share their thoughts on winning in the prestigious event. The panel of judges for this year’s awards include Jonathan Ho, Head of Internal Audit, Risk & Compliance Services, Head of Enterprise Market at KPMG Singapore; Henry Tan, Group Chief Executive Officer & Chief Innovation Officer at Nexia TS; Richard Loi, Deloitte Private Leader at Deloitte South East Asia; Joshua Ong, Managing Partner at Baker Tilly; and Toh Kim Teck , Assurance Partner at Foo Kon Tan LLP.

The Coca-Cola Company

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners: MADE IN SINGAPORE AWARDS 2020 AUTOMATION SYSTEMS ELID TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD ENERGY & POWER REC SOLAR HEALTHCARE ENDOFOTONICS PTE LTD INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION SIAC PTE LTD

JCS Biotech Pte Ltd

INFECTION CONTROL JCS BIOTECH PTE LTD MEDICAL OSTEOPORE INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD PERSONAL CARE MANDY T DESIGNED IN SINGAPORE AWARDS 2020 BEVERAGE THE COCA-COLA COMPANY CHEMICALS GIVAUDAN PTE LTD FOOD GLICO ASIA PACIFIC PTE. LTD. LUXURY MADLY PTE LTD MEDICAL HILL-ROM SERVICES PTE. LTD. SECURITY & SAFETY DORMAKABA SINGAPORE PTE LTD 54

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

Osteopore International Pte Ltd


Elid Technology International Pte Ltd

dormakaba Singapore Pte Ltd

Hill Rom Services Pte Ltd

Glico Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd

(Photo was taken before the pandemic shut down)

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

55


AUTOMATION SYSTEMS

ELID Technology International’s AXIOBOTS® bags Made in Singapore – Automation Systems award The robotic cleaning and painting system reduces manpower by 50% whilst reducing risks for façade cleaning work.

ELID’s latest innovation, AXIOBOTS®

E

lid Technology International Pte Ltd has won the Made In Singapore Award in the Automation System category by Singapore Business Review with its latest robotic innovation — AXIOBOTS®. “We are deeply honored to have won this award on the first run and it has provided a significant milestone for AXIOBOTS® in its global marketing efforts,” said the firm. Façade cleaning relates to working at height which in turn creates a general perception of ‘high risk’ work. It is intensively dependent on labour, with efficiency and safety in question on every deployment which is a vast concern of the Ministry of Manpower. Elid Technology International Pte Ltd envisioned a quality and value for results façade painting and cleaning robot to address the above concerns. The development of a façade cleaning and painting robot faces many challenges as unlike ‘ground-moving’ robots, this robot will be deployed on the façade hanging in ‘mid-air’. Whilst emphasis was placed on quality of finishing (in terms of painting) and cleanliness, safety in deployment requires extensive research.

56

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

To protect AXIOBOTS® intellectual property, it was trademark and various patent applications were initiated to some 16 countries, namely, Singapore, USA, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Gulf Cooperation Council and counting. AXIOBOTS® has received the Grant of Patent in Singapore, USA and China.

NO ONE CLEANING METHOD SUITS ALL FAÇADE Elid realises that ‘No One Cleaning Method Suits All Façade’. Thus, with these in mind, different cleaning processes have been developed to customise to different building facades so as not to affect the integrity of the façade as well as to assure cleanliness. It was recently deployed for cleaning at a building that has not undergone any cleaning since its temporary occupation permit (TOP) six years ago, AXIOBOTS® cleaned the surface with agitation to remove stains in one cycle. Compared to conventional rope access façade cleaning, stains were still clearly visible after two rounds of cleaning.

AXIOBOTS® works via suspended platforms such as gondolas, building maintenance units, boom lifts and scissor lifts. It has been computed to increase productivity by >30%, reduces manpower requirements by 50% whilst eliminating risk of working at height. ELID Technology International provides state-of-art security access equipment for some of the most prestigious projects in Singapore. Its products range from biometric and access control systems to CCTV surveillance and pedestrian gates. Do contact Elid Technology International Pte Ltd for your façade needs and we will be glad to assist on your vision towards automation.

CONTACT Company name: ELID TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD Contact number: +65 62952218 Email: elids@singnet.com.sg Website: www.elid.com.sg


Hillrom was recently recognized at the “Made in Singapore and Designed in Singapore Awards 2020”, Medical category, for its two new respiratory health innovations, Volara™ and Synclara™. The Volara™ System and Synclara™ Cough System provide hospital-grade oscillation and lung expansion (OLE) therapy. The Volara™ System is versatile, enabling patients to continue receiving OLE treatments with the precise settings used in the hospital, at home while the Synclara™ Cough System is a non-invasive therapy that simulates a cough to remove secretions in patients with compromised peak cough flow. For more information go to https://www.hillrom.com/en/productscategory/non-invasive-respiratory-therapy/ SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

57


EVENT COVERAGE: ASIAN EXPORT AWARDS

Asian Export Awards 2020 commends leading exporters in the region

A

part from the slow economic growth and China-US trade tension, the pandemic has also affected the export industry in the past months. However, companies that didn’t back down from the challenge and have continued to innovate amidst these unprecedented times have proved to be on the top of the export industry in their respective sectors. These companies that provided excellent products or services were hailed at the recently concluded Asian Export Awards 2020. Now in its third year, the awards event honoured products and services that have significantly enhanced business in the regional export scene. The awards were handled via digital presentations during the first and second week of December. Winning companies were also interviewed virtually to share their thoughts on winning in the prestigious awards programme. Winners were judged by Edmund Lee, Consulting Leader at PwC Hong Kong; Toh Kim Teck, Partner at Foo Kon Tan; Kuntha Chelvanathan, Partner, Supply Chain and Operations at Ernst & Young​; Eric Tan, Executive Director, Corporate Advisory at BDO Singapore; Chong Cheng Yuan, Partner at RSM; and James Elsom, Executive Director, Corporate Finance Advisory at Deloitte Asia Pacific.

Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper

Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners: THE ASIAN EXPORT AWARDS - LARGE CORPORATE

Freedom Foods Group Limited

ANIMAL CARE- DSM NUTRITIONAL PRODUCTS (THAILAND) LTD BEVERAGE- FREEDOM FOODS GROUP LIMITED CANNED GOOD- CENTURY PACIFIC FOOD, INC. FOOD- NESTLÉ INDIA LIMITED SNACK- REPUBLIC BISCUIT CORPORATION CONDIMENT- RODAMAS INTI INTERNASIONAL PULP AND PAPER- INDAH KIAT PULP AND PAPER THE ASIAN EXPORT AWARDS - LOCAL CHAMPION CONFECTIONERY- PT NUTRAGEN GLOBAL ESANA TEA- AKBAR BROTHERS (PVT) LTD. COFFEE- TRUNG NGUYÊN INTERNATIONAL SIGNAGE- PCA GROUP SDN BHD PERSONAL CARE- HEMAS HOLDINGS PVT LTD

DSM Nutritional Products (Thailand) Ltd 58

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


Century Pacific Food, Inc

PCA GROUP SDN BHD

Rodamas Inti Internasional

Republic Biscuit Corporation SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

59


SIGNAGE

PCA Group succeeds in Signage category at Asian Export Awards 2020 The maker of Corporate Identity Elements products has seen significant growth in recent years.

B

randing is an indispensable element of business, and companies usually allocate large budgets for Corporate Identity Elements (CI) products such as signage, flat-pack fast assembly furniture and shop fittings, LED light sources, digital signage with total content management system and similar materials. In the CI business, PCA Group Sdn Bhd occupies a special place as one of the world’s leading product manufacturers. Since 1989, the company has provided single source end-to-end service solutions in the design, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of outdoor and indoor CI elements and other corporate visual enhancement products for well-known multinational corporations, global chain stores, and brands. In 2020, PCA’s excellent work was recognised at the Asian Export Awards in the Signage category, Local Champion division. The company is a 30-year company involving in servicing retail network for renown global brands and multinational corporations’ chain stores, with existing clientele amongst petrol retail, automotive, QSR, tele-communications and FMCG industry players in the Asia Pacific (including China and India), Oceania, Middle East, Europe, South and Central America. Headquartered in Nilai, Malaysia, this ISO 45001:2018 certified company is also involved in the design, construction, and refurbishments of retails outlets for their clients in selected countries via its manufacturing facilities located in Malaysia, China, and India, and supported by its 16 sales and operations service centres worldwide. To keep up with industry developments, the company has streamlined its engineering and production work process over the years. PCA continues to innovate towards smart automation by procuring new machinery and assets to meet growing demand whilst increasing output and production capabilities. It has maximised the use of technology and assets and tapped the expertise of human capital, which has led to success and efficiency in high-quality production. All products are manufactured under 60

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

PCA Group stands out in the industry as one of the world’s leading product manufacturers

one roof, which ensures fast turnaround and timely delivery. The company’s more than 600,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing facilities includes equipment covering mill work, metal, paint, joinery, and wood. The company’s worldwide personnel consist of 1,200 engineers, management and marketing specialists, procurement and logistics experts, technical supervisors and workers, as well as administrative and support employees. It has a roster of longterm clients that include Shell since 1995, followed quickly by ExxonMobil, MercedesBenz, BP and several other names in the oil

PCA CONTINUES TO INNOVATE TOWARDS SMART AUTOMATION TO MEET GROWING DEMAND WHILST INCREASING OUTPUT AND PRODUCTION CAPABILITIES and gas industry over the years, winning Saudi Aramco and Chevron recently. More customers are in the telecommunication, quick-service restaurants, multiple sites chain stores, and other industries. Its key achievements are (1) improving total sales growth: from 2016 to 2018, the percentage of PCA Group’s export sales grew steadily with more than 70% of total sales being export sales; (2) continuing its excellence in all activities

and winning prestigious awards such as Star Outstanding Business Award (SOBA, 2018), Gold Award for Best Global Market Export Excellence Award organised by Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, 2019), SHE Excellent Award (2019) by Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Shell Global - Most Replicable PWR (High Rise Sign) in 2019, CBRE Malaysia - Best FMC Contractor in 2019; and Asian Export Gold Award under signages categories in 2019 and (3) introducing the use of LED light to replace traditional fluorescent tube, and promoting the transition towards energy saving in corporate signages. With the advent of IR 4.0, PCA is investing in automation and digital transformation in support of product and services offering to customers. With particular focus on sustainable energy and IoTs. With its remarkable track record of collaboration with global brands and strategic partnerships worldwide, PCA Group stands out in its industry and is poised to remain competitive. Client satisfaction with the quality of PCA’s products is expressed by a representative from a global super major petrol retail company: “One of the words that jumps to mind is flexibility. They are able to absolutely get into our mindset and develop the products that we would be happy with”


SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021

61


WEBINAR: UNLEASH THE POWER OF CLOUD

CMI Cloud Connect provides multi-cloud connection and cloud access service

CMI elevates industry with 5G and mCloud solutions China Mobile also assists with onboarding and migration to the cloud.

A

s today’s businesses shift to digital and new companies that cater to big data are growing exponentially, the need for cloud services and solutions is likewise on the rise. The demand for cloud platforms, which are capable of carrying big data, continues to grow but customers are always on the lookout for better and more secure alternatives. At the forefront in providing digital solutions to businesses is China Mobile International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (CMI), which has introduced new and improved services revolving around 5G and IoT Innovation, AI, Edge Computing, and mCloud. The company shared these latest offerings during the “Unleash the Power of Cloud” webinar held on 10 March 2021. CMI’s managing director Adelyn Ong said CMI is working on developing new technologies and partnering with more companies to elevate its services to customers. “As the world begins to transition from the digital era into the intelligent era, CMI aims to spearhead the development of a new generation of network technology 62

SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 20XX 2021

like 5G to encourage the adoption of intelligence technology globally. The dawn of the intelligence era is upon us and we hope to be at the forefront of it. CMI global network resource has grown exponentially,” she said. According to solution director Chen Choon Kiat, one of their aims is to boost industry application and to present their innovation as 5G+X. This will be a mix of 5G, edge computing, and AI. “The blending of 5G, edge computing, and AI provides a foundation to support new groundbreaking cases in almost every industry. Not only will this enrich our lives, but it will also become a platform for innovation, bringing an array of opportunities to the industry,” he said. He shared that the trend nowadays is that the use of cloud has become a priority in digital transformation. Public cloud IaaS spending grew 38% in 2019 to a worldwide total of US$49b. Despite cloud computing being still in its early stages of development, the company projects that 85% of customer service interactions will be centered more

The blending of 5G, edge computing, and AI provides a foundation to support new groundbreaking cases in almost every industry

on self-service by 2022. This is a huge leap from the current recorded number of 48%. Included in their array of services is CMI Cloud Connect which is a service based on VPN and SDN, combined with SDWAN. It provides customers with multicloud connection and cloud access service, and can serve to connect to the cloud resource, data center, and office. Solution manager Andrew Aw said that by being an mCloud partner of CMI, customers may receive training and will be put on a priority list when it comes to CMI’s latest services. “We have launched a consulting partner program. As a cloud partner, you’ll be entitled to better discount rates and priority when it comes to our latest offerings. Additionally, we can also leverage on these partnerships to provide cloud training and certifications,” he said. CMI can provide these services because it has an abundant backbone of network resources and POPs all over the world. Through this, the company can provide direct connection service to the major global exchanges and can meet customer demand for ultra-low latency network and high security dedicated lease line, including customers with high frequency transactions (HFTs). For interested customers and businesses, Aw said that CMI will help with the migration of data to the cloud. Aside from this, CMI will assist in the other areas needed for onboarding such as its financial, operational, and technical aspects. “On the technical side, we have a solution team that will work with partners and service providers directly to support the technical aspects of the migration.” he said. “We will also ensure minimal disruptions to the business operations and also ensure optimisation in terms of the migration.” he added. In addition, CMI said it can provide the Data Center service to its customers with a variety of financial data center cooperation models to fulfill the needs of customers at all stages.


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Multi-statutory compliance Multi-statutory compliance

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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | JUNE 2021


Malaysia Airlines reserves the rights at its discretion to review, amend and modify its offerings and Terms & Conditions at any time without prior notice.

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