Singapore Business Review (October - December 2023)

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Issue No. 105

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CIRCULATION: 18,000 ONLINE READERSHIP: 410,000 monthly unique clicks 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 and online advertising or events. PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITORIAL MANAGER PRINT PRODUCTION EDITOR PRODUCTION TEAM

Tim Charlton Tessa Distor Anna Mae Rodriguez Noreen Jazul Consuelo Marquez Frances Gagua


Angelica Rodulfo


Simon Engracial


elcome to our annual property issue, where we explore the changes in Singapore's property market and offer insights to guide investors on where to allocate their money going forward. Over the past year, Singapore saw an increase of up to 60% in its Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD), pushing investors to reevaluate alternative investment prospects, such as multi-family, senior living, and student housing. We discuss all these promising options on page 32. Shifting to the residential sector, homebuyers are now investing in properties that promote 'live, work, and play.' To assist you in identifying standout new projects and discerning current residential market trends, we have compiled a list of this year's "Singapore’s top real estate agents under 40" on pages 36 to 39.


Shairah Lambat

This issue also spotlighted this year's "Singapore's top architecture professionals under 40," engaging them in a discussion about prevailing architectural trends on page 40. If you want to reach out for ideas, the complete list of awardees is available on pages 41 to 44.


Julie Anne Nuñez

Read on and enjoy!


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Janine Ballesteros Jenelle Samantila Cristina Mae Posadas

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FIRST 08 Here are the top ten trends transforming Singapore's food scene 09 Supply-demand gap threatens Singapore's 2030 green goals 10 Four prime sites set to draw high developer demand

LEGAL BRIEFING 16 New bill balances bargaining power between tenants and landlords in retail leases

HR BRIEFING 17 Tips on how generative AI can be harnessed to reshape jobs and improve productivity

MARKETING BRIEFING 18 Here’s how online retailers can use big shopper data

Published Quarterly by Charlton Media Group 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | MARCH 2018 Singapore 069533







20 Locad speeds up D2C retailers' fulfillment and shipping 21 Mercu streamlines hiring and training for deskless workforce 22 TASConnect develops an inclusive supply chain finance platform

SPACE WATCH 23 Short-term accommodation offers affordable homes amidst pricey hotels

PROPERTY WATCH 24 H&M unveils eco-friendly facade at Orchard Store

INDUSTRY INSIGHT 25 How to find the right flex space for an organisation

26 Why the bank of the future is not really a bank 28 Experts point to Indonesia as a top market for SG brands seeking expansion 29 Tokenising healthcare through NFTs simplifies health data management and cuts costs 30 Temasek Foundation helps fund struggling sustainability innovations and startups 31 CLI experiments with tech to balance financial feasibility and sustainability

LUMINARIES 36 Singapore's top real estate agents under 40 41 Singapore’s top architecture professionals under 40

For the latest business news from Singapore visit the website

5 Reasons Why You Should Do a Commercial Photoshoot

In today’s competitive world of business,

companies are more aware of the importance of corporate photography in creating a specific identity for their company and its employees. There is often a general worry that corporate photographs can come across as stiff and overly theatric. However, with the right expertise and direction from our photographers, corporate photography can result in authentic and dynamic portraits too.


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white room studio 1. Creating a Cohesive Brand Identity

A consistent set of group photos can be used to reinforce the company’s brand identity. At White Room Studio, Studio we analyse the ways in which these photos can be utilised across various marketing materials and platforms to establish a recognisable and professional image.

2. Enhancing Employee Engagement

One of the objectives of a corporate photoshoot is to engage with employees and make them feel valued. The act of investing in such activities by a company serves as a recognition gesture, potentially leading to an increase in employee loyalty and job satisfaction.

3. Documenting Company History and Growth

Every small detail in a group photoshoot can serve as a visual representation of the company’s growth over different periods of time. Recognising the importance of capturing the employees’ journey and the brand’s milestones through these images, the company could effectively highlight various stages of growth and progress. It is not only about branding but by creatively demonstrating a personal side of the business, corporate photography can create a connection with customers as well as differentiate a company from its competitors.

Declan O'Sullivan, CEO of Kerry Consulting

4. Capturing and Aligning with Company Culture

Corporate photoshoots provide an excellent opportunity to capture the company’s culture, values, and employee interactions visually. These images can be used to showcase a cohesive and vibrant work environment, which aids in attracting potential candidates who resonate with the company’s values. For HR professionals, this serves as a powerful tool for talent acquisition, as candidates are more likely to be drawn to a company whose culture aligns with their own progress.

5. Creating Content for Internal and External Communications

With a good commercial shoot, companies could generate content for internal and external communications such as annual reports. Nonetheless, they could also use these images effectively to communicate the company’s culture and achievements.

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News from Daily news from Singapore MOST READ


Developers face new requirements as SG safeguards property market Singapore government is introducing new anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing measures for property developers and for good reason. In 2016, two real estate agents were fined for failing to report suspicious property transactions: one involving a $23.8-million bungalow in Sentosa Cove and another involving a new condominium unit.



Pilon works to address gaps in businesses’ cash flow Businesses know “cash is king” and Singaporean-owned startup, Pilon, believes that “cash flow is queen” and just as important for businesses. In a time when firms find solutions to streamline their supply chains, Pilon Co-founder and CEO Eddie Lee’s company thought of offering a platform that optimises cash flow for both suppliers and buyers. Suppliers now get an overview of their invoices’ on the mobile dashboard.

Auction houses thrive on Asian millennials’ art-buying power Millennials have proven themselves to be the new generation that paints a profitable path for auction houses. Last year, younger collectors accounted for 34% of Christie’s, close to 40% of Sotheby’s, and nearly a third of Phillips’ buyers. “Asia-Pacific (APAC) remains the powerhouse of new and millennial buyers with strong buying power,” said Francis Belin, Christie’s Asia Pacific's president.

Transforming the retail horizon: experimental retail and digitalisation key in driving postpandemic growth BY QUAN YAO PEH In Singapore, retail sales have essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels. Consumers are returning to stores to find revamped and refreshed retail concepts that showcase the relevance of the brick-and-mortar store in the post-Covid era. Experiential retail is taking centre stage as brands highlight their stores as more than just a place to transact.

Organisations beware: The legacy skills gap will stop modernisation BY DAVID IRECKI With Singapore organisations continuing to modernise and position for growth, digital transformation hurdles leave decisionmakers scratching their heads. Cybersecurity is one that immediately springs to mind, and so does human capital. The numbers speak for themselves. According to a local survey, 83 percent of Singapore companies reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring in 2022.

MOST READ COMMENTARY Businesses must unlock a mutually beneficial future in 'zero-sum thinking' era BY NATASHA ZHAO ChatGPT has dominated the airwaves the past couple of months, with fears that artificial intelligence will take over our jobs. This fear has been so tangible, especially against the backdrop of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s Budget 2023 announcement, in which he describes the future as a new era, marked by zero-sum thinking on the global stage.




The evolution of experiential and the future of storytelling

Resolute Communications and Oceanus Media Global’s cutting-edge technologies like XR and Web3 reshape brand experiences, with immersive storytelling.


n a post-pandemic climate, experiential marketing is undergoing a profound shift – one that is changing the way brands approach their storytelling. The notion of “experiential” has evolved through the years, having been typically associated with more hands-on and promotional experiences in the beginning. In today’s hyper-competitive landscape where high-quality content is abundant, a new kind of experiential marketing is emerging in the marketing mix. If experiential is all about creating a memorable brand interaction and forging deeper connections, then immersive storytelling is paving the way for its evolution. The advent of revolutionary new technologies in the marketing space – Extended Reality (XR), generative AI, the Web3 ecosystem, and more – signals an important opportunity for brands to elevate the power of narrative to unprecedented heights of immersion. Elevating Brand Experiences For agencies like Resolute Communications that excel in crafting narratives, these innovations are empowering their passions to create content that is truly immersive, shaped by cutting-edge technologies, helping clients adapt and leap ahead in their brand experiences. As part of Oceanus Media Global (OMG), a creative media tech company, Resolute Communications is harnessing its technological assets to rewrite the rulebook on storytelling and challenge pre-pandemic, industry-standard notions of experiential marketing. Most notable is the agency’s recent win in the SBR Technology Excellence Awards, with their groundbreaking OMG Futurealistic Studio Launch as the project to showcase their evolution in the marketing landscape. This event seamlessly melded XR technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality

distinctive showcase of the agency’s capacity to transcend the boundaries of conventional storytelling. The outcome? A remarkable success, with a reach exceeding 9 million and a total PR value soaring above $130,000.

Gina Pang, CEO of Resolute Communications

(MR) to supercharge the event’s narrative, allowing them to transport their audience to new worlds, figuratively and literally. By eschewing the typical studio demo approach and focusing on the integration of technology and storytelling to plant the audience in the thick of the action, the result was a captivating performance that immersed audiences in vivid, photo-realistic environments, breaking new, multidimensional ground. Structured into four acts that showcased the studio’s immersive media capabilities, the narrative-driven performance was orchestrated to present a high level of immersion and depth – from the live interaction with an augmented sports car in the assembly line to a mixed-reality spectacle in a concert arena, showcasing the power of finely tuned real-time motion capture tech in the form of a giant robot avatar. The studio launch was one-of-a-kind, a

This shift to the metaverse reflects Resolute Communication’s commitment to crafting immersive narratives that reorient our understanding of what’s possible in experiential marketing.

Immersive Storytelling Pioneer Gina Pang, CEO of Resolute Communications, continues to carry the technological torch of immersive storytelling to this day. Since the agency’s founding in 2020, she has cemented its position as a genuine changemaker in the marketing industry, delivering incisive story beats across high-impact brand activations, corporate summits, webinars, and more. Ever curious, the next step in their journey will take them from the realms of physical immersion to the virtual immersion that awaits in the metaverse. Happitat is the agency’s latest project – an addition to The Sandbox metaverse, an online gaming platform that allows players to build, own, and monetise their experiences on the blockchain. It represents their growing efforts to impact new Web3 communities with their immersive brand of storytelling. As one of 512 different LANDS comprising the larger “Lion City” neighbourhood, Happitat is designed to be a uniquely Singaporean experience and a new platform for storytelling immersion. A living, breathing microcosm of Singapore, it features significant local, and cultural landmarks, faithfully reconstructed on The Sandbox platform. Notably, it includes spaces for sponsors, brands, and players to interact with each other and share stories in the Web3 ecosystem. This shift to the metaverse reflects Resolute Communication’s commitment to crafting immersive narratives that reorient our understanding of what’s possible in experiential marketing. “We’re no longer gatekept by physical boundaries,” explained Gina. “Happitat offers users a completely different way to connect with each other, to tell each other fascinating new stories. Brands, both big and small, can even lease space in our city – this way, they can get their name out there and engage the community virtually. It’s an exciting time to be a storyteller, to find yourself at a milestone in the evolution of experiential marketing.” SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023







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City Developments Limited (CDL)’s Homes Sales app wins Digital - Real Estate Award

The app complements the Company’s commitment to create enduring value for its customers whilst delivering sustainability. outcomes for partners by providing measurable results available for live viewing, such as the number of digital sales, customer satisfaction ratings, and e-balloting hours. Besides that, the cloudbased platform uses open APIs to drive faster and more personalised experiences for customers and allows the use of industry-wide processes with traceability and accountability.

CDL’s Homes Sales app


ith a track record of 60 years in real estate development, investment, and management, CDL has developed over 50,000 homes globally. Being a market leader, CDL has introduced numerous innovative residential concepts to meet the evolving lifestyle aspirations and trends of homebuyers. As part of CDL’s focus on digitalisation and sustainability, it has developed CDL Homes Sales (CHS), an in-house proprietary app, to serve the industry’s need for an integrated platform that provides a seamless experience for homebuyers, property agents, and other stakeholders. Servicing business partners and the community alike, CHS is a first-of-itskind digital platform launched in 2021. Partners and agents can become familiar with multiple processes easily, enabling collaboration and continuous innovation, resulting in a smoother buying experience, as efficiency is often critical. Delivering on CDL’s promise to be an innovative creator of quality and sustainable spaces, CHS creates enduring value for its customers whilst remaining sustainable by: • Enabling direct engagement amongst ecosystem partners, saving time, and enhancing productivity • Unifying different processes on a single platform, reducing waste, and contributing to sustainability efforts Mr Ivan Ng, Chief Technology Officer at CDL, says, “Purchasing a home can be complex and time-consuming, as the process is highly regulated. CHS represents

our vision to harness the capabilities of our partner ecosystem in delivering a better experience for our buyers. By providing a unified platform enabled with real-time insights, the platform also opens up new digital avenues for sales and marketing, whilst strengthening our operational capacity. The feedback has been very encouraging and we will continue to optimise the platform to deliver more value for our buyers and partners.” Leveraging Technology for Efficiency and Sustainability Meeting customers’ unique needs is the app’s priority and this is achieved by leveraging digital technologies to build features such as: • Electronic balloting via Zoom, eliminating the need to physically queue for hours • “Thinking boxes” for buyers who need to review selected units • Secure electronic signatures for multiple documents using DocuSign either onsite or offsite • Integrating Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) initiative, MyInfo, to securely retrieve and validate buyers’ information The app also delivers positive business

CHS Integration for Enhanced Synergy The platform’s other benefits include reduced costs, increased generated revenue, and improved productivity in five projects (with more coming soon). CHS also enables increased efficiency across ecosystem reporting and management, increased speed of innovation for products and services, and sustainability. To foster synergies across the single digital eco-system, CDL plans to integrate CHS within the larger company in-house network, which comprises other digital solutions such as: • CityNexus mobile app (won the Mobile – Real Estate award in SBR Technology Awards 2022): First rolled out in 2019 for the office community at Republic Plaza, CDL’s flagship commercial property, the app allows building users to gain access to buildings, call for lifts using contactless technology, and check the availability of parking lots in real-time, amongst other value-added services. • My CDL Home app: Allows homebuyers to view monthly updates on the construction progress of the development, including estimated Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) and information specific to their apartment unit. The app also allows homebuyers to view their billing schedule and payments made, submit a request for a change of their personal particulars, or schedule an appointment for key collection after TOP.

CHS creates enduring value for its customers whilst remaining sustainable by enabling direct engagement amongst ecosystem partners, saving time, and enhancing productivity SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023


FIRST "From packed lunches to printed lunches, food prep is about to become a lot easier with advances in 3-D printing technology helping consumers create perfectly portioned and nutritionally balanced meals of their choice at home," Deliveroo noted. Like other indsutries, Delvieroo believes the food indsutry will also dive into metaverse. "The metaverse will expand into an interconnected world where people’s digital and physical engagement with food fully converge," Deliveroo said. "With the rise in augmented artificial smell technology, the metaverse can be incorporated into meal delivery platforms, where consumers will virtually smell and taste the food before ordering, helping to discover new food options whilst reducing time deciding between a wide selection of cuisines," it added.

Interest in healthy diets and alternative proteins has increased amongst Singaporeans (Photo by Deepika Murugesan on Unsplash)

Here are the top ten trends transforming Singapore's food scene



ice and noodles may be replaced as Singapore's daily food staples by 2040 with healthier foods such as petai, jackfruit, cowpea, arrowroot, azuki bean, buckwheat, amaranth, other variants of Asian yams, beans, and forms of superfoods. This was amongst the top 10 trends that will transform the way Singaporeans consume food, according to Deliveroo's Snack to The Future Report. Other trends noted by Deliveroo in its report include the rise of breath prints and "mega-nism." “Expect personal tech devices to be enabled with BreathTech, enabling consumers to breathe on a device and get a deep level of insight into what foods they should be eating to have an optimal impact on their health and wellbeing," Deliveroo said. "Me-ganism" or a hyper-personalised diet fully bespoke to each individual's nutritional needs powered by AI technology will be the mainstream diet of the future. Underpinning the Me-gan diet and lifestyle, Deliveroo said



AI technology will offer consumers their own personal AI or a lifelong AI buddy, which will help automate and tailor what they eat based on their preferences and needs at any given time. By 2040, experts also expect dining to be fully immersive with platforms such as delivery services using augmented imagery, audio, and packaging to elevate consumers' meal enjoyment. Delvieroo called this trend "foodgasms." In the future, the food and beauty industry will also become more integrated than ever and give birth to "edible beauty" or products such as anti-ageing ice cream. Singaporeans may even have a chance to dine from hormone-balancing and dopamine-driving menus. Soon, 3D-printed meal plans will also make its way into every Singaporean's diet.

Pioneering ideas Another trend that Deliveroo expects to define in 2040 is restorative restaurants. "New restaurant concepts will immerse diners and remove outside world distractions, with personal tech devices banned from entry, to a rise in popularity of silent cafés and restaurants which only offer tables for one to encourage mindful eating," the platform explained in its report. In the future, daily staples of Singaporeans will look a bit different, shifting from the usual rise and noodles to newfound staples such as petai, jackfruit, cowpea, arrowroot, azuki bean, buckwheat, amaranth, and other variants of Asian yams, beans, and forms of superfoods. Deliveroo believes there will be a rise in "alt-ohol." "Gone are the days of awful hangovers as by 2040, we expect alt-ohol beverages such as wine-inspired cordials formulated to mirror the dryness and depth of wine but fortified with vitamins and nutrients to keep consumers healthy - literally raising a glass to a longer life," Deliveroo said. Apart from the change in consumer preferences, the report stressed that future food shortages brought about by climate change and overpopulation will also affect people’s diets and the way they live. “Many of the plant varieties that are grown today might not be available because they are unable to meet the climate challenges of tomorrow,” the report said.

The metaverse can be incorporated into meal delivery platforms, where consumers will virtually smell and taste the food before ordering

FIRST percentage in ASEAN-6, tied with Vietnam.Singapore has also gained momentum in decarbonising its maritime sector by establishing the world’s longest Green and Digital Corridor with the Port of Rotterdam. The corridor is expected to “bring together a coalition of shippers, fuel suppliers, and other companies to work on potential alternative fuel solutions and optimise maritime efficiency, safety, and transparent flow of goods through a digital trade lane.” In aviation, Singapore has also piloted blended sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) on flights departing from Changi Airport and sold SAF credits as part of the pilot. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Singapore Airlines, and GenZero took part in the pilot.

A report says SG has ‘insufficient’ renewable resources to meet energy demand by 2050

Supply-demand gap threatens Singapore's 2030 green goals RENEWABLE


ith less than seven years to go before the target date of the Singapore Green Plan, the country still has not addressed the biggest hurdle in its energy transition—the mismatch of its renewable demand and supply. As described in the "Southeast Asia’s Green Economy 2023 Report: Cracking the code" report by Bain & Company, Temasek, GenZero, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Singapore “demonstrates the strongest need to import clean energy to achieve its 2030 goal and Net Zero in the longer term” amongst countries in the region. Based on the report, the citystate’s total renewable energy (RE)

resources are 0.4 gigawatt (GW); of which, 0.3 GW comes from Photovoltaic (PV) Energy and 0.1 comes from onshore wind. The total RE resources of Singapore are insufficient to meet its electricity demand by 2050 at 18 GW. “Singapore doesn't have sufficient renewable energy potential to meet 100% of the nation’s electricity demand,” the report stated. Whilst lacking in the RE aspect, Singapore has been leading in the transport front, from electric vehicle (EV) adoption to decarbonising its maritime and aviation sectors. Data from the report showed that EVs account for 12% of new car sales in Singapore. The highest

Singapore doesn't have sufficient renewable energy potential to meet 100% of the nation’s electricity demand

RE transition To ensure efficient RE transition and EV adoption, the report recommended several actions for ASEAN countries. Amongst its recommendations was to double down on power master plans to provide clarity on the transition path, which Singapore has done through its issuance of the Green Plan 2030. The report also recommended ASEAN countries accelerate EV charging station infrastructure development, citing Singapore’s regulation that mandates EV charging points at all new buildings with car parks.



n the battle of digital banking adoption, the rapid growth in Singapore's heavy digital users has propelled the country ahead of Hong Kong. According to RFI Global's latest research, Singapore has seen more rapid growth in their heavy digital users or customers who use only the internet or mobile banking frequently. Based on data, the percentage of heavy digital users in Singapore has reached more than a third (35%) of its retail banking population as of H2 2022. Growth in heavy digital users, however, has been slower in Hong Kong, with only a quarter of the population identified as heavy digital users in H2 2022. The report added that Hong Kong still has a higher percentage of traditional users or customers who only use traditional channels such as ATM and phone banking frequently. Looking at the markets' Net Promoter

Scores (NPS) for digital versus traditional banking, RFI concluded that in Singapore, "heavy digital users are more satisfied with their main banks than traditional users, suggesting the success of digital channels.""Conversely, in Hong Kong, traditional banking resonates more with customers, as evidenced by higher NPS scores among heavy traditional users," RFI said. NPS is a metric that reflects customer satisfaction and loyalty."The contrasting NPS trends between Singapore and Hong Kong emphasise the need for banks to recognise and adapt to regional customer preferences. Singapore leans towards digital banking, while traditional channels hold sway in Hong Kong," RFI said. "This divergence underscores the importance of a tailored banking approach to cater to the unique needs of each market," it added.

SG's heavy digital users have already reached 35% of its retail banking population




The government is starting to populate residential catchments along some of the new mass transit stations (Photo by yenwei from WikiCommons)

Four prime sites set to draw high developer demand RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY


he Singapore government has released a slew of prime property locations for tender, a move that surprised real estate experts, especially considering the potential dampening effect on prime property prices by the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) hike. “We have not seen such prime sites since GLS 2H 2019’s Irwell Bank Road site, and not as many prime choices in a single GLS programme in a decade or more. The proportion devoted to [these] prime sites is surprising given the recent cooling measures," said Tricia Song, CBRE’s head of Research for Southeast Asia. The four prime sites under the 2H23 GLS programme, which experts believe will attract high demand from the developers, are Orchard Boulevard, two on Zion Road, and Holland Drive. The prime sites under the Confirmed List are Parcel A - Zion Road and Orchard Road, whilst Parcel B - Zion Road and Holland Drive are under the Reserve List. According to Song, the prime sites account for 24% or 1,225 units of the total 10


number of units that can be built on the Confirmed List. Including the Reserve List, these four prime sites comprise about 29% of the total residential supply. Meanwhile, the four sites can also potentially inject over 2,500 units into the Core Central Region (CCR), according to Leonard Tay, Knight Frank Singapore’s head of research, as the government seems keen to develop residential catchments around these mass transit stations. “It does appear that with the commissioning of new MRT lines in recent years, such as the Thomson-East Coast Line, the government is also starting to populate residential catchments along some of these new mass transit stations, such as at the Orchard Boulevard, Zion Road and Upper Thomson Road plots,” Tay commented. Orchard Boulevard What makes Orchard Boulevard attractive is its location, said Tay, adding that it is

sitting next to Orchard Boulevard MRT station and close to the premier shopping belt at Orchard Road. “The embassies in the vicinity and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The last time a GLS site was sold in the Orchard Road area was in May 2018, where Cuscaden Reserve is now being developed,” Tay said. Data from OrangeTee showed that Cuscaden Reserve attracted nine bidders. The winning bid for the site was SG$2,377.2 (US$1,784.28) per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) and was awarded on 17 May 2018. Christine Sun, Orange Tee’s senior vice president of research and analytics, has stated that Orchard Road may be viewed as a “trophy project” by the developers. “It is a plum site situated beside the Orchard Boulevard MRT station and nestled within the Orchard shopping belt, which is very rare in the market. The MRT station is along the Thomson East Coast Line opened recently. Moreover, few new developments in the Orchard area are directly linked to an MRT station,” Sun said. “There has not been a GLS released for sale in the vicinity in the past five years ago. Therefore, developer and buying interest may be healthy for this plot…The future condominium may be marketed as a superluxury project which may draw keen interest from high-net-worth individuals,” she added. Lee Sze Teck, Huttons’ head of research, said the top bid for the site could be more than $1,500 psf ppr. Zion Road The two Zion Road land parcels will be attractive to developers because of the accessibility to public transport nodes, said Tay, adding that the sites are a short drive from the Central Business District (CBD). Lam Chern Woon, EDMUND TIE’s head of research and consulting, expects strong end-user demand for the Zion Road parcels “given its choice location and proximity to the Great World City, the Tiong Bahru food centre, quaint and hip neighbourhood of cafes, and the Great World MRT station.” Sun had a similar sentiment, saying the future development in the site may be popular among buyers as it is within walking distance of an MRT station. "However, future condominium units may not enjoy river views as they could be blocked by nearby developments,” said Sun. To read the full story, go to https://sbr.

The proportion devoted to prime sites is surprising given the recent cooling measures

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One-stop marine service provider RMS Singapore makes voyages simpler and safer

Under the forward-thinking leadership of Gabriel Hong, RMS Marine & Offshore Service Singapore has achieved remarkable growth, and demonstrated a strong commitment to social contributions and philanthropy.

RMS Marine & Offshore Service's Gabriel Hong at the SBR Management Excellence Awards


ith its inception in 2015, RMS Marine & Offshore Service (Singapore) has swiftly ascended to being the leading marine service provider in Singapore with revenue set to surpass $80m this year. Headquartered in China, with other offices in South Korea, Rotterdam, and Dubai. RMS group’s eagerness to be a solution provider to its customers sets it apart from the competition. RMS (Singapore) employs more than 130 highly skilled staff and manages 6,000 square metres of warehouse and office space. Major shipowners and maritime companies appreciate the reliable and responsive customer service of RMS group offices. The company allocates a single contact for every shipping vessel worldwide, making coordination a breeze. Aided by the accumulated experiences of global counterparts and the supply chain advantages of being part of a large entity, RMS SG’s scale and purchasing power are unmatched in the region, allowing it to offer the best prices. It continues to invest in leading-edge technology and enterprise resource planning systems to optimise business processes. Reinventing tradition with transformational leadership Before Gabriel Hong’s managing director role commencement in 2019, the company 12


had ship chandlering as its sole business in Singapore. He has since steered the company’s direction towards a clear and defined five-year strategy. Hong has devoted efforts to scaling the vertical and horizontal supply chain. “Our business can be traditional and resilient,” Hong said. “However, we offer a variety of services providing more avenues to support our customers, therefore allowing us to be highly scalable. We also ensure all the tools and systems are in place to grow horizontally and vertically.” RMS SG now offers solutions ranging from ship chandlering, marine agency, safety, engineering, logistics, and spare parts to dry dock support, being known now in Singapore as a one-stop marine service provider. With a driven management team forming new ideas to reinvent this traditional industry, and the agility and willingness to embrace new approaches and technology, the company has developed top-notch talents. Consequently, RMS Singapore garnered four prestigious business awards last year – the Singapore SME 500 Award; Dun & Bradstreet Singapore Business Eminence Award; Entrepreneur 100 Award; and the Singapore Business Review Executive of the Year Award given to Hong citing his management excellence in the marine service industry. In granting this award, the judging panel considered three major achievements. Spanning from talent development across the organisation to achieving the fastest growth in sales amongst peers with over 250% increase and Hong’s participation in industry projects and NYP supply chain industry panel board of advisors. Investing in people and communities Within a short span of time under Hong’s leadership which places a strong focus on its people, customers, and growth in its supply chain, the company has more than doubled its revenue and attained profitable growth with controlled costs in an inflationary environment. Hong has rapidly emerged as

a dynamic leader known for his forwardthinking approach. With strategic planning, Hong has propelled his company's growth, over three years of uncertainty, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. His steadfast leadership ensured not only the company's financial success but also the well-being of his staff. Hong's exceptional ability to navigate challenges whilst fostering a culture of recognition amongst his staff cements his position as an inspirational young leadership figure in the industry. Guided by altruism, Hong champions societal contributions and philanthropic engagement. From packing essentials at Food Bank to donations for Manna Home Photharam for Women and Children Foundation in Thailand, RMS leaves a global impact. Locally, benevolence extends to Lion Club Singapore, providing local Diploma scholarships for needy students, book prizes, and work-study opportunities in collaboration with the Institute of Technical Education and Nanyang Polytechnic. Talented employees have diplomas also fully funded through work and study schemes RMS SG also partners with the Yellow Ribbon organisation, offering ex-offenders meaningful employment, exemplifying a resolute commitment to positive change. On the sustainability front, in support of the larger Government’s “Singapore Green Plan 2030”, RMS Singapore is also an active partner in the Coastal Sustainability Alliance (CSA) that aims to build the next generation of Singapore’s Maritime ecosystem and accelerate the decarbonisation of, electrification and advancement in energy – efficient logistic and engineer solutions Essentially, Hong commented that his greatest gratification is the ability to build a successful business whilst blessing the employees and the community. “Our efforts to groom the next wave of leaders also mean that our future success is secured, allowing this journey to continue for generations.”

With a driven management team forming new ideas to reinvent this traditional industry and the agility and willingness to embrace new approaches and technology, the company has developed top-notch talents





Huawei wins Award for industry-leading Smart PV and ESS Innovative Technology

Huawei Solar String Inverters and containerised battery storage solutions emerged victorious in the competitive category of Technology at the SBR International Business Awards.


limate change and global warming is the foremost challenge of our generation and the momentous task of shifting energy supply away from fossil fuels requires renewable energy sources to be imbued with technological innovation. Singapore 2030 Green Plan sets out to achieve 2GWp of Solar deployment, up from the current 700MWp, a challenging feat for a small nation-state where the sun is abundant but land is scarce. Huawei inverters employ cutting-edge technology to achieve higher efficiency compared to other similar-sized inverters, maximising the clean energy generated on each plot of land and generating a higher yield per unit area. Huawei’s smart string inverter solution was also deployed to support EDPR APAC’s offshore floating Photovoltaic (PV) farm (a 5

MW-peak system, which is one of the world’s largest offshore floating PV system) off the north coast of Singapore on the Straits of Johor, using technology to generate clean energy in corrosive, saline conditions. Commitment to a Cleaner Energy Future The introduction of intermittent renewable sources create complexity in grid operation and management. The Sembcorp Energy Storage System (ESS) – owned and developed by Sembcorp Industries – spans two sites on Singapore’s Jurong Island and plays a significant part in supporting Singapore’s transition towards cleaner energy sources. The system is the largest in Southeast Asia and is the fastest in the world of its size to be deployed. On the Banyan site, Huawei provided the Smart

Huawei International Pte Ltd wins at the SBR International Business Awards

String BESS pre-fabricated ESS container solution, supporting the provision of grid ancillary services. The Sembcorp ESS uses a decentralised temperature control system by Huawei which maintains the batteries’ temperature difference within a specified range to ensure an optimum battery lifespan. Huawei International Pte. Ltd. emerged victorious in the Technology category and walked away with the prestigious award in the recently concluded SBR International Business Awards 2023. Huawei is committed to continual innovation and research of our products and will strive to work together with its customers and partners to be part of the energy transformation for a cleaner and low-carbon energy future, in Singapore and beyond.

Fang Yong Foo, CEO of Huawei International Pte Ltd

Huawei inverters employ cutting-edge technology, maximising the clean energy generated on each plot of land and generating a higher yield per unit area 14





New bill balances bargaining power between tenants and landlords in retail leases A CBRE expert believes the bill will make Singapore attractive to new entrants in the market.


ingapore’s retailers stand to benefit significantly from a new law that will give them much more power to negotiate with their landlords. Chief among these is the requirement of landlords to provide tenants with specific compensation if they wish to terminate retail leases early for enhancement works on their buildings. This is only one of the many changes introduced by the government's new Lease Agreements for Retail Premises Bill that mandates all landlords in Singapore to make sure their lease agreements are Code of Conduct (CoC)-compliant. “As the market practice is for many terms in retail leases to be largely in favour of landlords, many tenants were previously unable to negotiate for more tenant-friendly provisions in retail leases in Singapore,” Chou Ching, cohead of Corporate Real Estate at Rajah and Tann, told the Singapore Business Review. “The passing of the bill would help to re-calibrate this imbalance in bargaining power that currently exists between landlords and tenants in Singapore as the leasing principles in the Code generally promote a more balanced position for between landlords and tenants in relation to certain selected key provisions typically contained in leases for retail premises,” Chou added. Joan Chen, head of Retail Services at global commercial real estate services firm CBRE, said the bill also removes any ambiguity in retail leases, adding that the CoC provides for a single rental computation. “How the CoC works is that landlords have only a single permutation: they have to do base rent plus Gross Turnover rent (GTO). Previously, they had base plus percentage, or whichever is higher,” Chen explained. “At times, tenants are not able to project their rental costs efficiently because not only is addition rent based on the GTO, they have to account for a ‘whichever is higher’ basis. Removing these additional permutations or calculations will still allow landlords to enjoy upside rents and at the same time, give tenants more certainty in projecting total rent for their leased space," she emphasised. Better negotiating platform The CoC also provides a formula for calculating the compensation sum given to tenants should a landlord terminate their lease early due to enhancement works. Chen said such a provision will make tenants feel protected. “In the inevitable case of redevelopment, tenants have the assurance that landlords will offer some compensation for their investment in their shop fit-out,” she added. Compensation for early termination due to redevelopment was something that tenants needed to negotiate before and in a lot of cases their appeal gets rejected. What the new measure promises to give tenants is a better negotiating platform. “Tenants get defined leasing terms, it takes away ambiguity. Tenants don’t have to negotiate on like clauses they used to negotiate for like redevelopment clauses, compensation clauses. Now everything is upfront,” Chen noted. Whilst landlords may feel that the measures may have inhibited some of their rights as property owners, Chou underscored that 16


The leasing principles in the Code generally promote a more balanced position for between landlords and tenants (Photo by Utpal Sarkar from Pexels)

Chou Ching

Joan Chen

Tenants have the assurance that landlords will offer some compensation

the bill offers benefits for both lessee and lessor. Amongst the benefits of the bill which both tenants and landlords can enjoy include “greater certainty” when entering lease agreements since it will be “consistent” across the board. “For tenants operating in different buildings or malls, it would make it easier to have consistent clauses among the different lease agreements,” Chou said. Through the bill, both landlords and tenants will also have “heightened clarity in the lease negotiation process, as both parties would have the Code as a point of reference on the key lease terms to be negotiated upon.” It also cuts the time needed on lease negotiations. Chen said since the creation of the CoC, negotiation processes for retail leases have become “much shorter than before.” More importantly, Chou said the bill provides “for an accessible dispute resolution mechanism in the form of mediation and also provides certain confidentiality provisions during mediation and/or adjudication.” “The bill makes clear that communication and information shared during mediation and adjudication will generally be confidential, which encourages open communication between the landlord and tenant when there are disputes, and aims to assist parties to come to a resolution in the event of disputes,” Chou explained. Drawbacks for landlods However, the partner from Rajah and Tann did not discount some drawbacks for landlords. For example, landlords will not be allowed to include sales performance clauses, such as pre-termination of the lease agreement if certain sales targets are not met, in their lease agreements. The security deposit that landlords can ask from tenants has also been capped at three months' worth of gross rent. Landlords will also have to prepare to bear additional costs which were used to be borne by tenants such as legal or administrative fees for the preparation of the lease agreement. To read the full story, go to


Tips on how generative AI can be harnessed to reshape jobs and improve productivity Experts advise using AI to do most of the repetitive tasks whilst workers dedicate their time to upskill.


y now, everyone knows ChatGPT, the AI programme that even writes children’s school essays, but how exactly should a business go about using AI to improve the way they do their operations? Singapore Business Review asked tech experts how to use it to their advantage to increase productivity and create new jobs. The first tip, according to Bharath Bala, a senior consultant for tech and transformation at Robert Walters, is to create clear goals and objectives on why they are using the technology. “It’s a training model at the end of the day so they need to know what type of content, tone, and voice styles of charge ability that they should use, and what they need it for,” he said. Mehdi Jaouadi, partner at YCP Solidiance, said generative AI has the potential to generate solutions such as copywriting, coding, graphic design, and other types of recurring deliverables that could be automated. The next tip is training the generative AI model to generate relevant and accurate responses, explained Bala. After training the model, it should also be tested to ensure that the business is providing relevant responses, he added. Model testing for a bank, for instance, requires that it does not generate fake inquiries or false information about opening a bank account. So they should test the account opening model before it is served to the public, he said. Interacting with AI Another point is that testing the model will allow whether the generative AI is compliant and if its output meets regulatory requirements such as data privacy. It should also be used alongside human interaction to ensure it is correct. “When you test the model itself, adjusting the model is very crucial, so that's a very crucial phase, and people should not skip that phase,” explained Bala. “That’s where you set up requirements, you set up boundaries, when on what is within regulation, what is not within regulation, what is considered private information, what is not considered private information,” he added. The next tip is to provide transparency to ensure that the customer is clear when interacting with the AI model. “When you interact with a machine, it should always be very clear. Information should be consistent across everything. It shouldn’t give multiple answers to the same questions,” added Bala. As highlighted by Mehdi, another important tip is to not completely replace the human element. As generative AI takes over the processing of manual tasks, workers can focus on upskilling and adding value in areas that require human expertise. For example, accountants can utilise AI to automate most of their repetitive tasks, enabling them to dedicate more time to analysing data and gaining a deeper understanding of the numbers at hand. “As individuals enhance their skills, they will unlock the greater cognitive capacity to concentrate on high-value tasks that actively contribute to the company's growth,” said Mehdi. On the other hand, Nilay Khandelwal,

[AI] should also be used alongside human interaction to ensure it is correct (Photo by fauxels from Pexels)

managing director at Michael Page, said at the end of the day, businesses should still be careful of how they adopt the technology so as not to fall into the trap of losing their uniqueness. “Because every business, even if you have the same product, you still have your uniqueness about an organisation or culture’s way of dealing with customers,” Khandelwal told the Singapore Business Review. Bharath Bala

Mehdi Jaouadi

Nilay Khandelwal

Employees will unlock the greater cognitive capacity to concentrate on high-value tasks

Jobs at risk Bala said roles in content creation, advertising, media, translators, and content marketing will be the most challenged by the AI as the tech can create write-ups in seconds. This would mean the worker will edit more than create content. For Mehdi, job roles in the tech sector, such as coders and data analysts, are being at risk. Additionally, occupations in the legal field, including paralegals and legal assistants, as well as positions in market research, Edutech, and finance, are also deemed vulnerable. Khandelwal said generative AI will be of most use for recruitment or talent acquisition roles. Customer services working 24/7 will also highly use generative AI to help them answer shipping queries and other general questions from customers, Bala said. However, Bala also noted that not all AI technologies are developed to replace humans because their purpose is to only assist the people. “Job displacement means there will be some restructuring, particularly in industries that rely heavily on routine tasks as well. Workers in these industries who are getting displaced will probably require to reskill and upskill themselves to remain relevant and competitive in the job market,” he added. Michael Page’s Khandelwal, on the other hand, said it is still too early to say which skill sets will be replaced. In Singapore, for example, upskilling is in demand, especially for those with replaceable roles that can be done in other parts of the world at a lower cost. Half of Singapore employees (51%) said they are worried that AI will replace their jobs, a 2022 Salesforce report showed. But only 15% said they have expertise in AI. To read the full story, go to SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Here’s how online retailers can use big shopper data

NTUC FairPrice ditched mass sending of lack of personalised campaigns and used advanced customer data instead to boost sales.


arge online retailers in Singapore are evolving from a website that merely mimics the shopping aisle of supermarkets to tailor-making offers to each user based on their spending patterns and other data. This change means that every consumer will see different products offered when they log on to the big retailers’ platforms, a change from a few years ago when everybody got the same opening page and selections. For example, NTUC Fairprice utilised advanced customer profiles to increase its sales by 15%. Guillaume Sachet, a partner at KPMG Singapore, highlighted how the retailer expertly uses data to create detailed customer profiles, catering to different life stages and lifestyles. With their wealth of customer data, such as spending patterns and other indicators for customer behaviour, they tailored exclusive offers timed with occasions and platforms most likely to appeal to their customer base. Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData’s retail, said communicating well with customers and focusing on customers’ needs will help brands avoid bad reviews online. Better customer service Singaporeans, like any customer globally, are very impatient. Brands can improve a customer's purchasing journey by being available for them 24/7. “[Consumers] might look at chatting with customer service to ask about product information, or recommendations or certain questions that they will have about the product itself,” AnyMind Singapore Country Head Yi Hui Toh said. Yi Hui advised retailers that if they are working with thirdparty customer service providers, they should have a standard operating procedure or SOP to ensure that relevant questions are provided in a professional and timely manner, especially when consumers are faced with difficulties. Rob Giglio, HubSpot’s chief customer officer, advised using AI to create tailored emails specific to your customer prospect. “Being more personalised provides pieces of information that would be helpful to the actual person that you’re emailing as opposed to borrowing a sequence that someone else wrote, and hoping that it’s going to be relevant,” said Giglio, adding that it allows much faster and better sales emails. This could be relevant for Singapore businesses as the latest HubSpot study showed that a vast majority (96%) of business leaders in Singapore are having trouble connecting with their prospects and existing customers. Post-purchase journey Aside from using data, brands should also be mindful of their consumers’ post-purchase journey such as the delivery portion, which is what brands struggle with. “It’s something that is not 100% being able to be controlled on your end because it boils down to the logistics partner that they work with, and also the people who are doing the last mile delivery,” said Yi Hui. One example of seamless delivery, 18


Yi Hui Toh

Neil Saunders

Guillaume Sachet

Rob Giglio

according to GlobalData, is using drone delivery, which is getting more popular among Southeast Asian retailers. This allows retailers to overcome barriers such as a lack of employees and inaccessible deliveries to rural areas. It highlighted that some non-food companies are also tapping drones such as Malaysian-based Flower Chimp, a gift and flower delivery service, which uses drones to deliver fresh flowers. A recent GlobalData study showed that less than half of Southeast Asian consumers want food delivered to them in less than an hour. In Singapore, consumers want to have very fast delivery or under-an-hour delivery for their food orders. Future of omnichannel As Singaporean consumers’ demand keeps evolving, Singapore’s omnichannel technique is seen to grow 61.7% by 2026, said Saunders. Omnichannel means using online and offline strategies to interact with consumers. “Singapore’s excellent online penetration and its welldeveloped physical retail sector mean that consumers are shopping across channels in a very seamless way,” explained Saunders. Further, KPMG’s Sachet said businesses should start being future-ready by investing in data use or meaningful customer experience. AnyMind’s Yi Hui said he also sees growth in Singapore’s omnichannel by learning from other markets. “For example, live selling is popular in China, but it has an increasing amount of adoption in the Southeast Asian markets. Even for a market like Singapore, we are also getting more people going into this kind of different ways of selling products and services,” said Yi Hui. “There’s something that we can learn from each of the different markets because something that is practical in China might not be practical in Singapore. But we can look at how other markets do it and then pick it to fit the consumer behaviours in Singapore,” he added.

Brands can improve a customer's purchasing journey by being available for them 24/7

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STARTUP and lease the space which is very capital intensive. Whereas, what we do is that we partner with the facilities on a shared tenancy basis which in effect allows us to scale to a very local and very widely distributed system and network very quickly,” added Jain.

Locad selects from which channels and location retailers should ship customer's products (Photo from the official Facebook page of Locad)

Locad speeds up D2C retailers' fulfillment and shipping The logistics' startup helped Havaianas shrink its delivery period from 15 to 30 days to as short as 24 hours.


ajor retail brands are trying to establish their direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce platforms. But, they face the significant challenge of timely product delivery, a crucial factor if they hope to compete with big marketplaces such as Shoppee and Lazada. Take Havaianas, for example. The company used to deliver orders in a timeframe ranging from 15 to 30 days, a duration that falls short of today's expectations for purchases made on online marketplaces. But now that Shrey Jain has founded Locad, which provides fulfilment and shipping, brands can deliver their product in as little as 24 hours. Under Locad's fulfilment engine, retailers are provided with a network of fulfilment centres which help them put the stock closer to their consumers. Currently, the startup has 20 fulfilment centres across Southeast Asia. “The service that we provide is pick, pack, store and ship. So when the e-commerce brands sign up with us, they send us that inventory. We distribute the inventory across our fulfilment centres in the region, and our software then integrates to their storefronts to sort of process the orders and get them fulfilled,” Jain told the Singapore Business Review. 20


Shrey Jain

Being assetlight has put Locad in a “position of being able to scale very quickly”

Once fulfilment of the orders have taken place, orders will be picked up and dispatched which Locad does through its shipping engine. Jain, however, clarified that Locad does not have its own carrier, but has a network of partner carriers across the region. What Locad does, through its smart shipping agent technology, is select from which channels and location retailers should ship their products, based on parameters like price, coverage, Service-level agreement (SLA), performance, and cancellations of the carrier. “This helps our customers lower their shipping costs and provide reliable delivery to the end customer,” Jain said. “By having a network of carriers integrated into our system, what we can do is we can play the game or play the role of an orchestrator that chooses the best man for the job. In a sense, we choose the best last-mile carrier for shipment level, and we can then make very intelligent decisions on who we ship to particular parts of it,” he added. Jain said being asset-light has also put Locad in a “position of being able to scale very quickly.” “Asset-heavy operators, which most other logistics companies are, would have to set up their own warehouse

A step forward for Havaianas Before partnering with Locad, Havaianas faced extended delivery times as they handled the entire order fulfilment process internally. With Locad's involvement, the brand significantly reduced its delivery times. “From paying for our own real estate, managing that real estate, hiring people to cover X square metres of that real estate — all of that has been lifted from us and now we are only looking at the cost per unit,” said Christine Brunermer, e-commerce lead at lifestyle-creation company Terry SA which carries the Havaianas brand. Apart from saving the brand time, Locad also helped the brand with checking inventory and stock. “Right now, what our customers see [in] our e-commerce store is consistent [with] what we physically have in our warehouse,” Brunermer explained. Fulfilling goals With the SG$17.30m (US$13m) capital Locad has raised so far, Jain hopes to beef up the startup’s technical expertise. “So far, we’ve spent a lot of the capital in building up our technology teams in the region to build a stronger product, to build a more robust engine, and to sort of close the feature gaps,” Jain shared. Apart from improving Locad’s technology, Jain said he also plans to use the startup’s capital in horizontal expansion. At present, Locad’s markets already include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. But he plans to add Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. “What we aim to do is to capture the growth of this shift of brands from marketplace models to direct to consumer in a way that accomplishes the goal of providing end to end fulfilment services to brands that are now transitioning from marketbased models to D2C,” he said.


Mercu streamlines hiring and training for deskless workforce Employee turnover in frontline industries can be up to four times higher than that in office-based sectors.


igh turnover resulting in the constant need to replace shift workers in deskless industries, such as restaurants and retail stores, presents significant financial and time problems for employers. Replacing a shift worker can cost firms as much as SG$10,526 (US$7691.07). Whilst firms typically associate recruitment, training, and retention with desk-bound jobs, there has been a limited focus on how technology can streamline the process for deskless industries. Elliott Gibb and Justin Zittel recognised this gap and sought to address it with Mercu. Their platform particularly targets frontline workers because they are often disengaged, which then results in higher turnover in the industry, Gibb said. “Existing tools to engage and communicate with teams are practically built for desk-based workers. These are built for people that have access to email on their desktop or laptop. [But] how do you communicate with people outside of shift? It’s easy when you’re doing 9-5,” Gibb told the Singapore Business Review. Mercu helps frontline employers hire, train, and engage employees via chat apps like WhatsApp and Line. Gibb explained that using existing chat apps that most people already have on their phones allows for

Today, the way businesses train the frontline or deskless employees is often an afterthought

frictionless engagement between employers and their current and future employees. “By delivering to the chat apps that people already have on their phone, we typically see four to five times the level of engagement that you would expect with an email or a separate mobile app,” Gibb said. “The idea is that as an employee, you don’t have to download new software, you don’t have to create an additional account, everything that we do gets delivered to where you already spend a lot of time online,” Zittel added. Less time for recruitment Through Mercu, deskless employers can cut time spent on contacting candidates and also reduce no-shows in the recruitment process. “We do a lot of automatic reminders. So on the day of your interview, two hours before, you’re gonna get a message as a candidate saying: ‘We’re looking forward to meeting you, here’s the office where you should come to for your interview. Don’t forget to bring your ID, etc.’,” Gibb said. By reducing no-shows, Gibb said frontline employers can also save money spent on job boards. Meanwhile, the recruitment team of one of Mercu’s clients, fast food chain, Guzman y Gomez, was able to cut down the time they spent per

Mercu particularly targets frontline workers because they are often disengaged, which then results in higher turnover in the industry (Mercu co-founders Elliott Gibb and Jascha Zittel)

candidate from 45 minutes to less than 15 minutes through Mercu. Zittel explained that Mercu has an onboarding programme where businesses can enroll their candidates. Once enrolled, the candidates will receive a message and in that message they can book their interview. “We will then continuously remind the candidate about their upcoming interview,” Zittel said. Engagement and training Apart from helping Guzman y Gomez in their hiring process, Mercu also helped the fastfood chain in keeping their employees updated about changes in operations. “We do quick updates on guacamole preparation, ingredients list, latest menu items, and specials,” Zittel said. Apart from quick announcements, businesses can also use Mercu to arrange team dinners or send out engagement surveys to their employees. More importantly, businesses can use Mercu in arranging trainings for their employees. “Today, the way businesses train the frontline or deskless employees is often an afterthought. Typically, they kind of have a big three- or four-hour one-off training and then it’s like on-the-job training on a per need basis,” Zittel said. He underscored that because of the lack of continuous training, businesses find it hard to monitor knowledge gaps and identify root causes for errant behavior of their employees. “So, what we’re doing here is, instead of a one-off training, we help employers do a micro training and breakout training over multiple days, delivered seamlessly to the frontline staff’s chat apps so there is no friction,” Zittel explained. Future plans With more funding at hand, Zittel and Gibb plan to double down on product development efforts and make Mercu a platform that also allows deskless employees access to the right information. Zittel added they want deskless employees to be able to access operation manuals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) which are usually either printed or in some desk drawer. To read the full story, go to https://sbr. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



TASConnect develops an inclusive supply chain finance platform Lenovo used the startup's platform to run a successful supply chain sourcing from various markets.


arge-scale businesses often face the challenge of coordinating payments of their suppliers through multiple banks due to data privacy concerns. This is where the fintech platform, TASConnect, comes into play, investing heavily in cybersecurity measures such as achieving ISO 27001:2013 certification to follow the culture of the bank’s data security compliance. The certification is the only auditable international standard that defines the requirements of an information security management system (ISMS). The platform also appointed a chief information security officer to oversee that cybersecurity requirements were up to mark for top-grade security. Another cybersecurity measure of TASConnect is the cloud-based platform hosted on Amazon Web Services, known to be extremely secure, robust, and reliable in disaster recovery modes and data security modes. Fintech is like an “express highway” for Lenovo and their suppliers that can all come together in an easy cloud-based accessible format, said TASConnect CEO and co-founder, Kingshuk Ghoshal.

It makes a profit through a payper-use model, which scales as the processing volume increases

How TASConnect makes profit The platform, which is a bank, industry, and Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) agnostic

CEO and co-founder of TASConnect, Kingshuk Ghoshal



SaaS platform, significantly enhances efficiencies in accounts payable and accounts receivable financing programmes, enabling access to increased working capital sources, automating and simplifying complex workflows, and allowing businesses to control their programmes securely and sustainably. It makes a profit through a pay-per-use model, which scales as the processing volume increases. Kingshuk said Lenovo, their first client, uses the TASConnect platform to digitalise their payables financing programs with multiple banks. Approved invoices are pulled directly from Lenovo’s ERP system, which are then straight-through processed to the respective banks for financing via the TASConnect platform. TASConnect collects a usage-based fee based on the volume of financed invoice flows through the platform. “It’s simple and similar to your monthly mobile usage billing model,” explained Kingshuk. A wholly owned subsidiary of SC Ventures Holdings Limited and incubated by SC Ventures, the fintech and investment arm of Standard Chartered, TASConnect has an initial capital of SG$7.3m (US$10m). Breakthrough idea At the end of 2019 when Kingshuk was working with Standard Chartered

Bank’s corporate banking client coverage team, along with his team (called Project Litmus), he saw an opportunity to create an efficient and scalable digital platform for supplier and receivables financing with one of his technology sector clients’ which had a large and complex supply chain. When the client was pleased with the solution prototype, Kingshuk said “We knew we could not stop there”. But there were bumps along the way that needed to be resolved before the startup could be formalised — from securing venture funding to convincing banks to join the platform for access to working capital for the anchor clients of TASConnect. Everything worked out, eventually, and the platform went commercially live in February 2022 with multiple international banks connected. The platform is in the process of integrating with more banks to provide stronger coverage, particularly in Asia. TASConnect is now focused on establishing a strong brand name by working alongside reputable global clients to create lasting value in trade and supply chain for them. Kingshuk said they chose the name “TASConnect” to represent their purpose of “connecting” enterprise ecosystems with their Treasury or Trade and Supply Chains; hence the “T” and “SC” in the name. Data security certifications To ensure stakeholders’ trust, TASConnect has invested heavily in cybersecurity measures that follow the culture of bank compliance for data security. The platform appointed a chief information security officer to oversee that cybersecurity requirements were up to mark for topgrade security. Kingshuk shared that the company had also undergone a rigorous evaluation process to achieve the certification for ISO 27001:2013, which they first achieved in the fourth month of their launch. To read the full story, go to https://


Short-term accommodation offers affordable homes amidst pricey hotels Families in Singapore can rent a unit as low as $4,500, which is 35% cheaper than condos.


pting for hotels or branded serviced apartments for stays from a few days to six months can be expensive, which is why Bespoke Habitat launched short-term accommodations (STAS) for individuals seeking more flexibility without being bound to such long commitments. STAS offers a flexible lease option of three to one year and affordable rates from S$4,500 (US$3,330) to S$7,500 (US$5,550) monthly. In comparison, some upscale condos have monthly rents ranging from S$7,000 (US$5,135) to S$11,000 (US$8,069). The startup Co-founder Ernee Ong said they transformed eight vacant units in a building at 64C Telok Kurau into STAS in four months. He added that they serve companies with employees needing service apartments


Ernee Ong

for four or six months. Bespoke Habitat is serving 1,500 tenants from multinational corporations. “In the market, as of now, you don’t find a place that easily for a short-term stay. It is not catered for that. As such, this is where people are coming forward to us,” said Ong. Aside from Singapore residents, STAS can also attract foreigners looking to live in Singapore temporarily, especially those who want their families to come along on their travels. The STAS offer flexible options whether a family wants a bare unit or fully furnished unit. The fully furnished ones have spacious living rooms, fully-equipped kitchens, and private bedrooms. It also has high-speed Wi-Fi and laundry machines. Some units have a study area, a terrace with a pool, and a dining area.


1 Bespoke also

provides a rented sofa to liven up and add comfort to the living room

2 Bespoke Habitat’s

co-living space has a dining area for families’ culinary needs



3 There is also

muted-coloured rented bed and closets for married couples

4 Here is another

design of a bedroom space at STAS



5 The stylish

furnishings evolve the study experience in the dedicated study room

6 Some units have

pools and a terrace to add a leisure environment for families




H&M unveils eco-friendly facade at Orchard Store The company used ‘i-Mesh’ fabric as the store’s facade, marking a first in Southeast Asia.


&M's flagship store on Orchard Road faced a design dilemma. The store's expansive windows, which should have offered shoppers panoramic views of the iconic street, were sadly hidden behind its old facade. But that has changed now. In a bold design move meant to fuse aesthetics with sustainability, H&M, in collaboration with RSP Architects & Planners Engineers (RSP), unveiled "The Canvas"—a brand new facade wrapped in the eco-friendly fabric, i-Mesh. “[i-Mesh] is also highly transformable and has this intricate kind of lace detail,” Oldouz Mirzaie, CEO and Regional Manager of H&M South Asia, told the Singapore Business Review. RSP Architects & Planners Engineers (RSP), with which H&M collaborated for the design of the facade referred to as “The Canvas,” said they chose to use i-Mesh for three reasons: performative quality, aesthetic, and tensile strength.

Using i-Mesh material “We have explored a wide variety of materials but we found i-Mesh to be the most suitable given the performative and aesthetic qualities that it possesses,” RSP Associate Director Khoo Teik Rong told the Singapore Business Review. “i-Mesh not only aligns with H&M’s and our own sustainability goals, it is also completely customisable. i-Mesh is lightweight and has tensile strength properties that allowed us to design a facade that had very few structural members,” Khoo noted. Talking about the design of the facade, Khoo said RSP had three inspirations, one being sculptor duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude. “[We were inspired] by their projects of wrapping public monuments in a large amount of fabric. We were inspired by how, with such a simple means of wrapping things with fabric could change our perception of the original thing in 24


H&M flagship store on Orchard Road (Photo from H&M)

The fabric filters out the harsh Singapore tropical sun only allowing soft, natural daylight whilst keeping heat out from the interior space

a very positive way,” Khoo said. He said RSP also took reference from cinema projector screens when designing the facade. “We were also intrigued by how this minimal, seamless surface can catch and reflect light,” he said. The architect said the facade was also inspired by the humble white lace food nets in dining tables. Day & Night In the morning, the facade looks like a blank canvas, which Khoo said showcases “H&M’s ever changing line of fashion wear and lifestyle concepts.” Since the i-Mesh fabric also has a woven pattern that is porous enough, natural daylight can also enter the store’s interior space. “The fabric filters out the harsh Singapore tropical sun only allowing soft, natural daylight whilst keeping heat out from the interior space,” Khoo explained. “[H&M] had all these large windows that open up to the street but they were all hidden away by the old facade, so we wanted to reconnect the shop with the iconic streetscape along Orchard Road,” he added. When

night time comes, The Canvas takes on a different character. “At night, the facade becomes a dynamic membrane that allows vibrant colours and light effects to come together, showcasing and curating the H&M experience. During festive seasons, The Canvas can position H&M to become a hotspot for spectacular night lighting displays along Orchard Road,” Khoo said. Mirzaie said H&M is able to light off the facade with wearable lights. “We [can] make it a lot more colourful which also resembles a lot of the other iconic buildings in Singapore,” she added. Digitalised store Apart from the facade, H&M also introduced more digital features in its Singapore flagship store as part of its revamp.“We have digital tripods, digital screens in the store, nice and upgraded service areas such as fitting rooms and also the cashier desks,” Mirzaie said. To read the full story, go to https://


How to find the right flex space for an organisation

Five out of 10 organisations in Singapore opt for flex leases, says an IWG expert.

Spaces One Raffles Place 5300 Singapore Community Desk (Photo from IWG)


s companies transition employees back to the office, they are asking about the type of office environment they wish to provide. Whilst some want an office with an entrepreneurial edge and startup vibe, others seek to recreate a traditional office environment. Recognising these diverse needs for flexible spaces, operators such as IWG created various office setups to cater to the distinct preferences of occupiers. “We have our Spaces brand which tends to be more entrepreneurial, a little bit more relaxed, and what you would classify as a co-working environment,” IWG Singapore Country Manager Darren Rogers said. Rogers underscored, however, that organisations must first identify how their organisation works and what kind of work environment is needed by the employees when choosing flex spaces. Companies such as Standard Chartered, for instance, which may need a lot of private meeting rooms to have in-depth discussions amongst employees will likely need a clinical environment in which to work. “One product and one type of co-working [setup] doesn’t always work for every customer,” Rogers stressed,

One product and one type of coworking [setup] doesn’t always work for every customer

Darren Rogers

Bastiaan van Beijsterveldt

adding that a company’s accounts team won’t have the same demands as the tech team. Colliers Singapore Managing Director Bastiaan van Beijsterveldt shared a similar sentiment, underscoring how important it is for organisations to know what employees want. “Businesses should not only look at how the office is being used today, but more importantly, how employees want to use the office tomorrow,” van Beijsterveldt said. “It could be that today your colleagues would like to have some more informal kind of conversation points or informal meeting points; so instead of having just desks and meeting rooms in your office, you also have open spaces. But then later on, you will have more people back to the office for focus work… and want more individual desks,” he said. Since flex spaces also translate to flexible leasing terms, van Beijsterveldt advised occupiers to look into how their landlords can agree to more flexibility. One option for occupiers with a five-year lease term is to propose that some space be handed back over time. “It can be a win-win situation because the landlord will

retain you as a tenant and they can have space that can go back into the market to lease out again so they won’t lose the client,” he explained. With environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) being a big topic in Singapore, van Beijsterveldt said occupiers must look into sustainability credentials of the space providers. Rogers said IWG also chooses landlord-partners whose buildings have received Green Mark Certification. An example of this is IWG’s Regus Centre at 61 Robinson Road, which has received a Green Mark Platinum certification. “Using flex and the recyclability and the reusability of the same space helps organisations reduce that footprint from their long term leasing strategy as well,” the IWG executive said. Demand drivers Companies’ shift from traditional long-term leases to flex leases are driven by a lot of factors, including the uncertainty of where hybrid work is going. “Certain occupiers, prefer not making decisions right now that have a longer-term impact because they don’t necessarily know how the office will be used in three years’ time or how the business’ growth will be over the next three years,” van Beijsterveldt said. In Rogers’ view, many organisations are shifting to flex spaces to reduce facility spending. “Sixty-five percent of all CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) are looking to achieve at least 10% cost savings, which they can do through resizing, remodelling their existing portfolio and existing office space,” he said. “We also found about 50% of businesses are already reducing and opting for shorter term leases, as well, which naturally brings you into the realms of looking at hybrid and flexible solutions,” he added. Rogers underscored that there’s an “absolute incessant demand from business to have flex as part of their core strategies.” Citing data from JLL, IWG has realised how flexible workspaces will account for 46% of a business’ portfolio estate by 2025 from the current 30%. To read the full story, go to https:// SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Why the bank of the future is not really a bank ANEXT Bank’s Toh Su Mei reveals how they reimagine banking for micro businesses.


ne year after kicking off operations as a fullfledged digital bank, ANEXT Bank CEO, Toh Su Mei shared one of her key takeaways on Singaporeans’ modern banking needs, “Nobody needs another bank in this day and age!” Pushing this premise, she added, “Which is why we were very clear from the onset on why we do what we do and how [we do it].” In the past year, ANEXT Bank has been embarking on discovering the best way to service Singapore’s underserved small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Business loans were offered for as low as SG$5,000 (US$3,700) and up to SG$30,000 (US$22,200) to meet the liquidity needs of SMEs. ANEXT is also the first bank in Singapore to offer remote virtual onboarding for business owners who are based overseas but have registered businesses in Singapore, reducing the need to travel into the city to set up shop. Toh cited their target market, the SMEs, as an inspiration and called them a reflection of what the bank strives to serve. “We serve businesses from industries and individuals that are typically not digital-first. Our youngest customer is 19 years old, whilst our oldest is 86,” Toh said, noting that this diversity in ages shows the impact of what customer-driven and tech-led financial services can make. This is also why ANEXT Bank remains optimistic about its ability to enable financial inclusion for the long term. Dwelling on this enthusiasm, Asian Banking and Finance got its CEO to open up about more interesting insights on the future of banking. How have things been on ANEXT Bank, one year on? What have you achieved over the past year? At ANEXT Bank, we have a big, hairy audacious goal to reimagine financial services for financial inclusion — we believe in establishing the essentials that stay true to our mission, and to do them well. We’re encouraged by the trust that SMEs have placed in us this past year. About 65% of SMEs who have chosen us to be part of their journey are micro businesses, whilst 33% have businesses incorporated for less than two years; [and] 30% of our customers are foreign business owners who have incorporated a business in Singapore. Our customers are also showing a 20% month-onmonth increase in cross border transactions. Over 6 in 10 of your customers are micro businesses. Why do you think you became the bank of choice for micro businesses? Regardless of business setup, size, and vintage, there are common areas or challenges they all face when it comes to financing and banking, which is the gap we aim to fill for them — whether it’s banking directly with us or through embedded financing from our partners. We are committed to building an open ecosystem and working with financial institutions and industry partners to drive industrial transformation and even more value for these partners. The ANEXT Programme for Industry Specialists (APIs) is an example of our open approach, to improve and scale embedded finance for SMEs by making it easier for businesses to access financing through our industry 26


ANEXT Bank CEO, Toh Su Mei

Our customers also showing a 20% month-onmonth increase in cross border transactions


collaborations. Through our initial two partners, we can serve close to 15,000 SMEs collectively, supporting them with easier and more seamless access to their financing needs. Any notable trends you observed in SG’s banking sector? The banking and finance industry, like many other industries, has seen an accelerated shift towards digitalisation, including the issuance of digital banking licenses as another indication towards championing digital-first behaviours. Small businesses account for more than 85% of cross-border e-commerce in the Asia Pacific region and digital trade is expected to further accelerate in tandem with higher consumer adoption of digital lifestyles. It’s no surprise that Singapore has a highly banked population, but studies have shown that SMEs are still underserved by the country’s banking sector. According to Deloitte, 72% of SMEs require funds to better manage their working capital and mitigate cash flow problems. At the same time, local governments and industry players are building ecosystems and digital infrastructure to support SMEs’ digitalisation. We are not here to compete with incumbents, but to provide SMEs with an additional choice to cater to different needs.



Making A Smart Moove to Capture Audiences and Drive Brand Visibility From bigger, bolder platforms to precise audience targeting, Singapore’s advertising powerhouse brings digital out-of-home campaigns to the next level.

Banking and Insurance, Travel Interest, Parents with Young Children, and more. These personas are defined using criteria tagged to online behaviours, such as the top 20 sites or apps on mobile, frequency of visits, and dwell time. With StarHub’s data, Moove Media utilises information from over 2 million consumers and identifies key behavioural attributes to enable brands to create more targeted campaigns. This approach enhances online traffic and search, potentially increasing retail footfall and conversion. MooveSMART, an audience data dashboard powered by Moove Media and StarHub


oove Media, a subsidiary of ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited, claimed the top advertising accolade for the “Moove The Great Wall” platform at the SBR National Business Awards 2023. This award is a testament to the company’s visionary approach and relentless pursuit of bolder ways to transform Singapore’s advertising landscape. Today, Moove Media touches the lives of millions of commuters island-wide daily, across 8,500 taxis, 4,000 buses, 17 bus hubs, and 50 MRT stations across the NorthEast Line and Downtown Line. The Great Wall That Reaches Millions of Commuters The Great Wall at Dhoby Ghaut MRT interchange, a striking 40-meter digital wall beside the travelator, is now one of the most iconic landmarks at Singapore’s busiest MRT interchange, connecting three MRT lines. With its larger-than-life and captivating visual appeal, the Great Wall has enlivened the daily experience for commuters and captivated audiences for over a minute as they travelled alongside this immersive display. As the longest Digital out-of-home (DOOH) wall in the region, the Great Wall has showcased over 120 campaigns from familiar brands like McDonald’s, Deliveroo, FoodPanda, Coca-Cola, Lazada, Grab, Gojek, Shopee, Taiwan Tourism, UOB, Disney, Royal Caribbean, DBS, Citibank, and public health messages with the Health Promotion Board.

Right Ad, Right Person, Right Location with MooveSMART For Moove Media, pushing the boundaries in Singapore’s advertising scene does not stop at creating the longest digital wall. The company wants to weave creativity and innovation with data-driven insights to deliver the next-generation wave of out-ofhome (OOH) advertising. With the growing influence of mobile marketing, challenges remain for brands to reach their target audience due to ad blockers and subscription plans. This is where OOH media is impactful in delivering campaigns to audiences at the right time and place and cannot be skipped or blocked. Nielsen Ad Intel’s data from 2022 also confirms a 19% increase in outdoor advertising spend from 2021 to 2022 across the region. Recognising how investment in data could level up the success rate of reaching audiences, Moove Media partnered with StarHub to develop MooveSMART, an innovative proprietary audience data dashboard. MooveSMART utilises location data, online browsing behaviour, and app usage of audiences to create 15 audience personas and measure impressions, enabling precise targeting of campaigns at Moove Media’s network, beginning with 50 MRT stations. The personas are categorised into 15 audience types across various interests and industries, such as Entertainment Seeker, Food Lover, E-commerce, Beauty, Job Seeker,

Data-Driven Triumph in Advertisement Insights Illustrating the power of data-driven ad buys, Moove Media was able to recommend an alcoholic beverage client focusing on marketing entertainment events and festivals to optimally target its campaign. The client selected Clarke Quay MRT Station as the prime location due to its logical proximity to the vibrant F&B nightlife scene. MooveSMART’s data-driven insights showed that the Entertainment Seeker Persona most frequented Chinatown, Harbourfront, and Sengkang MRT stations, based on unique reach. The data provided alternatives to reach a wider audience and increase drive-to-action. As such, MooveSMART has opened doors to a more intelligent, insightful approach to media planning and buying through datadriven insights for strategic advertisement placements. It has also unlocked the vast potential for the right messages to reach the right person at the right time. “Our success at Moove Media is anchored in our commitment to innovation and creativity, exemplified by platforms such as Moove The Great Wall and MooveSMART. In our next phase of MooveSMART, our focus will extend to encompassing our network of buses and bus hubs," said Jeffrey Kwek, Acting CEO, Moove Media. "Our vision is to continue enhancing our digital analytics capabilities, with the ultimate aim of providing clients with dynamic DOOH programmatic advertising solutions,” he concludes.

Our success at Moove Media is anchored in our commitment to innovation and creativity, exemplified by platforms such as Moove The Great Wall and MooveSMART SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Experts point to Indonesia as a top market for Singapore brands seeking expansion Local franchisors can “get a lot more for the same dollar” in Indonesia.


ndonesians' familiarity with Singaporean brands, owing to their significant immigrant presence in the country, positions Indonesia as an ideal entry point for local enterprises eyeing expansion in Asia. However, the vast difference in market scale and socio-economic factors between the two nations may pose challenges to Singapore brands planning to branch out. “If you’re in an F&B industry, you need to consider whether or not the food product you serve is halal, though halal requirements are not as strict in Indonesia as they are in Singapore and Malaysia,” Astreem Consulting founder, Hsien Naidu, told Singapore Business Review. “Everybody looks up to Singapore for its creativity, great brands, and all that, but when we try to export our brands into the region, sometimes we run into problems because Singapore is relatively tight in terms of size. So a big brand might be [the size of] 20 to 30 outlets, but translate that into Indonesia, a big brand can be 2,000 units in size,” she said. “The level of understanding of how you go to a market might change dramatically and who your target market might also be very different,” she added. Whilst Indonesia’s size presents challenges for Singaporean brands, it also gives multiple opportunities. For one, brands will have access to a vast and more generous amount of space, people, manpower, as well as creativity. “You can get a lot more for the same dollar and the profit margins are a lot higher,” Naidu said. Citing Joe & Dough as an example, Naidu said the coffee and bake shop put ovens in their outlets in Indonesia instead of just selling bread that comes from the central kitchen. “Like famous bakers in the past where you can walk past and you can smell the cookies, they did the same thing. Now Joe & Dough is known in Indonesia as the best croissant in the region,” Naidu said. Whether in Indonesia or other parts of Asia or the world, CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants Albert Kong, said brands must remember the P-E-S-T-L-E of franchising before expanding. Kong explained that PESTLE stands for “Political Economy,” “Social,” “Technological,” “Legal,” and “Environmental” factors that might impact an organisation’s performance, and position in the marketplace. Selecting a franchisee When selecting franchisee cross-borders, Kong said it’s important for franchisors to conduct a thorough investigation. “Don’t just look at how rich, how well-connected the prospective franchisee is. For example, if someone is very rich and he comes to you who is a franchisor for children’s education but you didn’t ask whether this person has children or whether they love children or not, that can be a big factor,” said Kong. Alignment is also something that Naidu emphasised, saying that franchisors and franchisees must be aligned 28


Don’t just look at how rich, how well-connected the prospective franchisee is


in terms of growth prospects. Commercial appetite, however, must not only be the factor for choosing franchisees, said Naidu. “Franchise fees, royalties, of course [are] important, but ultimately, it is all the other things that you need to evaluate with the franchisee that is important, that is about the brand, about the technology, about the franchise management team, management team, their supply chain, as well as franchise unit excellence, those are all things that you need to already have in place before you start franchising,” Naidu said. “From that perspective, you want to know that the franchisee passes all these other criteria before you check whether or not they have the financial bit and the royalties and all that if all these things are aligned, then actually the chances of success are much higher,” she added. Success outside Singapore After selecting the franchisees, Kong said franchisors must ensure that their contracts are airtight and that they provide a comprehensive initial training and follow-up support to their venture partners. “Unfortunately, there will be brands that to save money, they give some initial training and then they leave the franchisee alone because it costs them too much money to fly there,” Kong said. “To avoid bad relations, the franchisor has to manage expectations well. It'll be nightmarish for the franchisor to be constantly contacted by the franchisee for the latter’s day-to-day operations," he added.

CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants, Albert Kong (left) and Astreem Consulting founder, Hsien Naidu (right)


Tokenising healthcare through NFTs simplifies health data management and cuts costs By using NFTs, patients can securely store and share their test results with hospitals


ingaporeans who see different doctors for various medical conditions are often required to get simple tests multiple times. For example, those with diabetes need to take HbA1c tests when they visit an endocrinologist, which can be repetitive and expensive if they see different healthcare providers during follow-up visits. Hence, two health professionals hope to use non-fungible tokens (NFT) to store medical data and allow doctors and hospitals to access it, saving patients’ time and money. Dr Teo Zhen Ling, an ophthalmology resident at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), said by storing patient data using NFTs, hospitals, and other healthcare providers will benefit by reducing costs for repeated medical tests on patients. Dr Zheng said currently, patient data is being secured and shared when needed by institutions such as healthcare providers and insurance firms. Using NFTs to manage health data will allow patients to own and share their data, similar to how digital assets are being traded in the form of NFTs in commercial markets. “This empowers patients to take greater ownership of their health, which has been shown to produce better healthcare outcomes in the long run,” Dr Zhen told Singapore Business Review. NFT as a safe space for patient data Since the blockchain is traceable and unalterable, patient data stored as NFT can ensure complete transparency and accuracy of research data. “This leads to greater data integrity and better research outcomes, which could potentially produce novel healthcare solutions to streamline workflows or improve clinical outcomes, saving healthcare costs in the long run,” Dr Zhen said. In a published journal, Dr Zhen and Associate Professor Daniel Shu Wei Ting, the senior and corresponding author of the paper and a senior consultant at SNEC, explained how NFTs are created. According to the journal, NFTs can be created via the minting of existing digital data, or they can use generative data, where the digital product is produced in whole or in part by an autonomous system. Once encoded with blockchain technology, an NFT cannot be modified, and its authenticity is validated through the blockchain in which it is stored. Before minting, the data must be cleaned, verified by verifiable credentials, and converted into an actionable form. This procedure allows individuals to own and trade digital assets between parties such as global medical networks, pharmaceutical companies, or insurance companies. Lower healthcare costs By storing patient data, hospitals, and other healthcare providers will benefit by reducing costs for repeated medical tests on patients, Dr Zhen said. She cited as an example a diabetes patient who may undertake an HbA1c

Dr Teo Zhen Ling, ophthalmology resident at Singapore National Eye Centre (left) and Zhen and Associate Professor Daniel Shu Wei Ting (right)

NFT empowers patients to take greater ownership of their health, which has been shown to produce better healthcare outcomes


test — one that measures a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months — at a consultation with a general practitioner. The simple blood test is used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes. During a subsequent visit to an endocrinologist, that patient can easily share the HbA1c test result with the attending physician, instead of spending on repeating the test since that data is now accessible. Future of healthcare in NFT Using NFT can also strengthen health data management, although there are still obstacles and considerations to implementing it for patient data storage. Ting, who is also the director of the artificial intelligence office at SingHealth, revealed that there should be an evaluation first. This includes establishing the proper tech infrastructure, such as a blockchain-enabled “biodata” platform, and establish safeguards to preventcybersecurity issues such as theft of NFTs can be handled. “Nonetheless, NFTs in healthcare have many exciting potential benefits and could revolutionise health data management in the time to come,” said Ting. Dr Zhen suggested using NFTs for the management of health data could also be used for “altruistic research purposes.” She said researchers’ gathering of patient data for research through clinic visits can be time-consuming. But this will be fast-tracked by tokenisation of data. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Temasek Foundation helps fund struggling sustainability innovations and startups Its criteria for selection in funding failing startups include desirability, feasibility, and viability of businesses.


ith a failure rate as high as 30% amongst Singaporean startups, as highlighted by e27's research, the government-backed Temasek Foundation is stepping in, offering potential capital injections. But before a startup can acquire this capital, it must meet the foundation’s specific criteria. Lim Hock Chuan, head of programmes at Temasek Foundation, outlined these as desirability, feasibility, and viability. Elaborating on 'desirability', Lim explained that they assess whether the business aims to address a particular issue." As for feasibility, it is important that the business can indeed develop the solution. “Also, we look at whether there are regulatory issues that you need to address. What is the technology that’s out there from your competitors?” Lim told the Singapore Business Review. The last criterion is the financial viability or affordability of a business solution or product, he said. “For example, if you say that I can produce a plastic bag that can solve all the problems we have today, but each plastic bag costs SG$5 (US$3.67), then it’s not financially viable,” he explained. When asked which of the three criteria is the most difficult, Lim said some applicants have a difficult time explaining the technical feasibility and business viability of their innovation. But that does not mean Temasek Foundation will not help these businesses. Another type of assistance is Temasek Foundation can find a testbed for the product of these startups and navigate the regulatory environment. This way, businesses will be introduced to experts or other organisations that could partner with them or mentor them in improving their operations, Lim said. After these three steps, the businesses will then be introduced to investors to create an operational prototype. “We help small businesses in the innovation space, and bring the ideas and research from the lab into the community to produce goods and services that will benefit the community,” said Lim Success stories An example of a business that Temasek Foundation has helped is NEU Battery Materials, a startup that recycles old lithium batteries to produce battery-grade raw materials. The company uses a patented scalable technology that employs electrochemical separation to recycle lithium batteries cleanly and sustainably. According to Lim, the process has very minimal carbon emissions and waste. He added that the project addresses both energy and carbon footprint issues. So far, since it began in 2016, Temasek Foundation has helped 55 businesses with sustainability innovations, providing them with a total of SG$44m (US$32.27m) in grants and attracting SG$424m (US$311.03m) in follow-on funding. This year’s edition of Temasek Foundation’s The Liveability Challenge (TLC), which was launched in 2018, helps support start-ups that have ideas for decarbonisation to fulfill



Lim Hock Chuan, head of programmes at Temasek Foundation

We help small businesses in the innovation space, and bring the ideas and research from the lab into the community

Singapore’s net zero targets in 2050. They contribute to this by launching the TLC every year, drawing 600 applications from 80 different countries. One of the applicants is the startup, Equatic, funded by Temasek Foundation, to help the business create a scalable process that removes carbon dioxide from the ocean. “This is an example of a kind of project that tackles the removal of carbon and when we do that, we’re well on our way to meet our net zero emission target for Singapore,” said Lim. TLC’s sixth edition included ocean ecosystem solutions as a focus area for the first time and doubled the grant funding to SG$2m (US$1.4m) – a million-dollar prize each for two tracks such as climate change and food & nutrition. Under climate change, the focus is on disruptive innovations that can decarbonise energy generations and industries, and capture and use carbon to create scalable products for global markets. Under food and nutrition, those considered are disruptive innovations that can establish circular urban agriculture or aquaculture, or alternative protein systems. The finalist programmes represent a wide range of solutions that have the potential to significantly address the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from decarbonising the economy, to improve the food and nutrition systems that Asia so heavily depends on.


CLI experiments with tech to balance financial feasibility and sustainability CapitaLand Investment Limited expands and sources tech from other markets that generate investment and augment its sustainability efforts.


apitaLand Investment Limited (CLI) is confronted with the dilemma of integrating sustainable practices into its operations whilst simultaneously maintaining financial robustness. To address this, CLI has explored a range of technological solutions. A noteworthy mention is the infrared emitting filter from Japan, CLI’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) Vinamra Srivastava said. Srivastava emphasised the merits of the Japan-patented tech, CONTINEWM: "Now, this tech is very easy to deploy, these are essentially nets that you can put in any building today. The returns on investments from this are very attractive, and you can recover it in the very first few years of deployment as well." CONTINEWM's adoption in one of CLI’s industrial buildings, LogiTech, resulted in a substantial 51% reduction in fan consumption and a 16% decrease in cooling load for two of its air handling units. "This is an example where you can scale this up significantly, irrespective of whichever building it is, it is financially feasible, and it can get you a significant amount of savings on energy consumption,” Srivastava added. Eco-smart strategies To advance innovation and collaboration to address sustainability challenges in the built environment, CLI tapped into its SG$50m- (US$ 36.67m) CapitaLand Innovation Fund and launched the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge to crowdsource for innovative solutions globally and pilot them at its properties worldwide. CLI also continually engages with its stakeholders and builds strong partnerships across the ecosystem, including working with government agencies on public awareness programmes, providing its tenants with green fit-out guides and implementing green leases, and having its supply chain partners abide by its Supply Chain Code of Conduct, amongst others. But before, investing in tech in other markets, CLI said market nuances and financial risks should be assessed. For example, a technology that may work in Singapore could deliver a 15-year return on investment in India, which isn’t feasible. In this respect, Srivastava, posed a couple of questions, “What is the cost of energy and water in country X versus country Y? How is the supply chain organised in both these countries? What are the import and export costs?” When asked about balancing sustainability goals and profitability, CLI’s CSO said they focus on “proven solutions and approaches where it’s not a trade-off, where we can meet our sustainability goals and get financial returns in a commercially feasible manner.” In real estate, he said investing in green buildings allows operational efficiency of the building, which can cut utility costs. “It’s a direct improvement in profitability and the value

[We] focus on proven solutions and approaches where it’s not a trade-off


of the building,” he said. Another example is in ensuring that customers are receiving what they want — greener buildings. “If your building is not green enough, you may not be able to attract those tenants and you may take longer to lease your buildings, which is going to dampen your returns. So again, there's a huge opportunity cost,” he said. New goals With a refreshed 2030 Sustainability Master Plan, CLI is set on elevating its ESG goals and delivering sustainable returns to its stakeholders. As such, CLI is committed to ensuring transparent reporting, with a dedicated Strategy and Sustainability committee, and making sure that the ESG agenda is part of their business. Srivastava disclosed that their reporting complies with worldwide standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure. As a result, Srivastava said the company gets listed on global benchmarks such as GRESB MSCI, and the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, which identifies global sustainability leaders. “We have got a Strategy and Sustainability Committee at the board level, which oversees the entire strategy and execution of our sustainability initiatives. Then at each of the business units, we have got a very strong sustainability structure,” Srivastava said when asked how his company deals with the risks of greenwashing.

Vinamra Srivastava, chief sustainability officer of CapitaLand Investment (Photo by CapitaLand Investment media team)




Diversification to shape real estate investments in 2024 An expert said capital will cascade into “alternative” sectors next year.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, cons Focus on ESG-compliant assets will also continue to 2024 (Photo courtesy of Colliers Asia Pacific's Expert Talks)



ulti-family, senior living, and student housing are some sectors where investors are channelling their capital to diversify their assets and reposition themselves towards more lucrative avenues. “Investors are displaying greater adaptability in their investment strategies, navigating fluidly across both geographic and asset class considerations,” Christoper Pilgrim, managing director of Colliers Asia Pacific Global Capital Markets, said. He added that geographic diversification will serve as a core strategy for investors in the Asia Pacific. In addition to exploring alternative assets, real estate barons are also looking into thematic investments on a global scale. “Investors are increasingly drawn to narratives that align with overarching themes, fostering a strategic approach that extends 32


Interest rates will peak as the Fed finally pauses on its extended rate hike cycle

Christopher Pilgrim

beyond traditional market boundaries,” Pilgrim said. Focus on ESG-compliant assets will also continue to 2024 as more investors see the value that these types of assets bring. ESG friendly assets are also likely to help drive rental growth in property sectors such as the industrial segment, said Catherine Chen, director for Asia Pacific Research at Cushman & Wakefield. Meanwhile, the flight-to-quality trend in the office and logistics sector will also push stakeholders to commit further towards addressing sustainability and climate change, said Christine Li, head of Research at Knight Frank Asia Pacific. Next year will also be a transformative time for the property market as it is expected to see higher transaction volumes on the back of the stabilisation of interest rates. Interest rate hikes have been one

of the biggest challenges faced by investors and developers, with Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea being amongst the most adversely affected, said Chen. “2023 has been one of the most volatile in recent history in terms of global interest rate rises and inflation, challenging for both the debt and equity investors across real estate asset classes,” Pilgrim said. “The expected stabilisation of interest rates will rejuvenate confidence within the debt markets, catalysing an upswing in lending and borrowing activities,” he added. Li echoed this sentiment, adding that 2024 will mark an “upturn for real estate investment markets” in the APAC region. “Odds for a soft landing that the Fed has been trying to engineer for its economy are getting better. Interest rates will peak as the Fed finally pauses on its extended rate hike cycle, which should allow bid-ask spreads to narrow and investment activity to rebound,” Li said. “Asia Pacific will remain the main engine of growth for the global economy, and as China’s recovery gets on firmer ground, these conditions will continue to support the region’s real estate sectors,” she added. Office takes over In terms of investment, offices rose as the most transacted asset class in the APAC region. Based on data from Cushman and Wakefield, the office sector accounted for 38% of transactions in the first semester of the year (1H23). Office demand in APAC also held up better than in the United States and Europe, given the stronger return-to-office trend in the region, told Li. “With tech occupiers continuing to rationalise employee headcount, financial and professional services firms as well as flexible space operators have made up the slack in leasing activity,” she added. Data from Knight Frank showed that office rents in the APAC region have continued to decline in 2023. As of 1H23, rents have declined by 1.8%. Martin Wong, director and head of Research & Consultancy for Greater China at Knight Frank, confirmed the slow leasing activity in the office market, saying the market’s


Christine Li

Martin Wong

The share of industrial investment increased from a 10-year average of 17% (2013 to 2022), to 22% in 1H23 (Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels)

weak performance is due to the large supply available and the slow movement of investors amidst the high interest environment. Li had a similar sentiment, saying, “The rise in funding cost and concerns over slowing economic growth has generally sparked more caution for developers as buyers are turning more selective in tandem.” “Office property landlords have reacted to the structural challenges brought on by hybrid working styles and a flight-to-quality trend as tenants focus on what it occupies rather than just how much,” she added. Increasing allocation for industrial Behind office, the industrial sector was the second largest sector in APAC in terms of investment. Pilgrim said there has been a sustained uptick in capital allocation towards logistics assets in APAC. According to Chen, the share of industrial investment increased from a 10-year average of 17% (2013 to 2022), to 22% in 1H23. “As a major logistics hub, Asia Pacific remains underserved by modern and high-quality logistics facilities, on the back of growing demand from a rising middle class,” Chen said. Other driving forces of the industrial market include e-commerce and third-party logistics (3PL) players, as well as manufacturers, said Li. “Whilst e-commerce demand is normalising,

optimisation of the sector’s logistics footprint has driven demand for modern facilities. Preference for institutional-grade facilities in core areas and last mile locations continued to fuel leasing activity in the region, whilst China+1 strategies also saw ongoing expansions by major manufacturers in Southeast Asia,” Li explained. The same was observed by Chen, adding that the China+1 strategy has driven interest for manufacturing and logistics assets in Southeast Asia. Retail remains relevant Compared to the industrial segment, the retail sector performed best in

Catherine Chen

The rise in funding cost and concerns over slowing economic growth has generally sparked more caution

Singapore in terms of investment. Chen said retail investment accounted for over half of the total transaction volume in Singapore in 1H23. “This was primarily led by a few large deals bought by Frasers and Link REIT,” added Chen. Region-wide, Pilgrim said the retail sector in APAC “displayed remarkable resilience and strength compared to other regions.” “It stands out with its consistent performance, boasting a streak of 12 months with stabilised yields,” Pilgrim noted. Respite for residential Like retail, the residential sector, particularly in Hong Kong and Australia, is also receiving interest from investors. According to Pilgrim, there has been an increase in investment in the apartment subsector in Hong Kong and Australia. In 1H23, apartments accounted for 16% and 14% of total investment of the respective markets. Residential sales have also been performing quite well in Hong Kong as developers are becoming more aggressive to clear up their investors, said Knight Frank’s Wong. Many developers in the region are likewise trying to free up their investors left in the past two to three years, added Wong. On the buyer side, Li said they are taking advantage of the rate hikes being paused at the moment. “Buyers are utilising this window of opportunity to lock down on their dream homes,” she said.

There has been an increase in investment in the apartment subsector in Hong Kong [left] and Australia [right] (Photo by August_0802 and designium from Shutterstock)




Experts tout SG’s strata commercial spaces as an ideal investment choice

Apart from delivering significant returns, this property type is not affected by the recent ABSD hike. SINGAPORE


oreign investors who might have taken a step back from investing in prime residential properties in Singapore due to the recent hike in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates should look into strata commercial spaces instead. According to Tang Wei Leng, managing director and head of Capital Markets & Investment Services at Colliers Singapore, strata commercial spaces, particularly those in the Central Business District (CBD), are an ideal investment choice. “The control in future approvals for new strata subdivision ensures that the supply of such commercial spaces remains limited, which can potentially drive up rental yields and capital appreciation,” Tang told the Singapore Business Review. Investment possibilities “Foreign investors can capitalise on Singapore's pro-business environment and welcoming stance towards foreign investment. Our stable political climate and robust legal framework instill confidence, providing a secure and transparent environment for international investors,” Tang added. Tang, however, underscored that strata commercial spaces aren’t only a good investment for foreigners but also for locals. “Investing in strata CBD commercial space in Singapore offers local investors the opportunity to leverage their knowledge of the domestic market, and benefit from the continued growth of Singapore's business landscape,” said Tang. “Moreover, such investments would allow them to actively participate in the flourishing business landscape of Singapore and contribute to the country’s economic growth,” she added. Nicholas Keong, head of Residential and Private Office at Knight Frank Singapore, shared a similar sentiment saying both locals and foreigners can explore investment possibilities in the commercial shophouse and strata



Foreign investors can capitalise on Singapore's pro-business environment and welcoming stance towards foreign investment (Photo by Travelpixs from Shutterstock)

Leonard Tay

Tang Wei Leng

Nicholas Keong

office segments given that they are not affected by the recent increases in ABSD rates. “These assets are limited in the island state of Singapore, and over time consistently deliver significant returns should investors be able to adopt a longer-term investment horizon,” Keong said. “Commercial shophouses and quality strata office space in Singapore, whether in the CBD or in suburban locations, typically provide capital preservation and appreciation for buyers,” Keong added. Apart from strata commercial spaces, Keong said local Singaporeans can also target private landed homes as an investment. “These are also in limited supply, comprising just 5% of all housing stock on the island. So long as there is steady continued increasing affluence in Singapore, demand for landed homes will remain supported vis-a-vis the limited inventory that would not increase by very much in future,” Keong explained. Singapore retains its investor appeal Despite Singapore’s skyrocketing real estate prices, Leonard Tay, head of Research at Knight Frank Singapore, believes it will remain attractive to investors since it offers international firms “a flight-to-safety and flightto-quality destination for investment and expansion that will facilitate

growth when stability returns to the global economy.” “In a time of global economic and political uncertainty, institutional investment and private wealth are drawn towards destinations of stability and are willing to pay a premium for security in an uncertain world,” Tay said. Colliers Singapore’s Tang believes the same, adding that the Lion City can continue to attract foreign investors despite its high prices through three strategies. The first of these would be offering long-term investment opportunities. Tang said Singapore’s commitment to long-term planning and ambitious master projects such as the Jurong Lake District (JLD) create “alluring investment prospects for both local and foreign investors.” “The JLD, a significant urban redevelopment endeavour, showcases Singapore’s dedication to sustainable growth, making it an attractive destination for foreign capital seeking stable returns over the long run. Additionally, with the government’s emphasis on continuous land releases through the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme, there are abundant opportunities for investors to participate in the country’s progressive development journey,” she added. To read the full story, go to https://


Properties promoting ‘live, work, and play’ gain popularity Homebuyers want customisable homes to meet their multifaceted needs.


omes with customisable spaces, expansive living areas, and adaptable furniture appeal most to Singaporeans as they prioritise “hubs of productivity and recreation” rather than just “sanctuaries of rest.” “Buyers are increasingly drawn to properties that embody the ‘live, work, play’ ethos, where spaces seamlessly transform from workstations by day to leisure zones by night,” Wu Chin Whee, senior manager for Livethere Residential at Savills, told the Singapore Business Review. Green spaces Apart from flexible homes, Singaporean homebuyers also prefer developments that offer green spaces. “Eco-friendly elements such as enhanced indoor air quality, natural lighting, and green spaces are well sought-after [by homebuyers],” explained Wu, adding that condominiums and HDB developments now have many sustainability features. Wu said the preference for developments with green space was driven by the Singaporeans’ “heightened awareness of overall well-being and the tangible advantages that green spaces offer.” “As this consciousness deepens, sustainable attributes are now basic elements many would expect in a property development,” he added. Donald Lin, senior associate director at OrangeTee & Tie, had a similar observation, saying a lot of developers are already incorporating greeneries within their properties. “This actually enhances the homeowners’ lifestyle from their hectic work life. They see things like a sky garden, terraces with lots of greenery. These are places where the children or even seniors can relax,” Lin, one of this year’s Real Estate Luminaries Under 40, said. Urban living Homebuyers prefer being near the city, but they also want to

Property buyers in Singapore prioritise a balanced lifestyle in their property choices

Wu Chin Whee

Donald Lin

enjoy the serenity offered by green landscapes, said Wu. “Today’s property buyers in Singapore prioritise a balanced lifestyle in their property choices. They are drawn to the vibrant pulse of urban living,” added Wu. “Properties near MRT stations, bus interchanges, shopping malls, F&B, and parks remain highly sought after. The proximity to good schools is also an important consideration for families aiming to provide the best educational opportunities for their children,” Wu added. Lin echoed this sentiment, observing that a large number of homebuyers in Singapore are around 28 to 45 and are young families. “[For] people within this category of demographics, their next concern is schools for their children so we see a lot of transactions in District 15 Katong and Dakota areas recently because there are many good schools there,” Lin said. After location, Lin noted, buyers look into how much privacy a development offers, citing LIV@MB

as an example. “LIV@MB has two towers of residential blocks whereby distances between the blocks are quite far away,” he said. Buyers’ concern Features of a property is only one of the many factors that homebuyers consider when choosing a home. Wu said homebuyers would check whether or not there is capital gain from the property, as well as good projections for the rental yield. Prices, of course, are also a main consideration for buyers. Wu said mass-market private residential properties in the Outside Central Region (OCR) typically range from SG$1m (US$733,186) to SG$2m (US$1.4m). In the Rest of Central Region (RCR), average prices of units can go from SG$1.5m (US$1.09m) to SG$3m (US$2.19m). Lin said price in relation to location also bears weight in the preference of homebuyers. “We have recently seen a lot of transactions ongoing in the Core Central Region (CCR)." He further explained, “The current attitude towards buying that a lot of my clients have in mind is, ‘Since I’m paying this X amount, why not go for something more premium since the difference is not that higher between regions.’” To read the full story, go to https://

LIV@MB has two towers of residential blocks whereby distances between the blocks are quite far away (Photo from the official Facebook page of LIV@MB)




Singapore's top real estate agents under 40


n search of the best agents in the country under the age of 40, Singapore Business Review reached out to over 50 real estate firms in Singapore. After a rigorous review of nominations submitted by the firms, eight women and 12 men made it to the final cut. In contrast, last year’s edition saw women dominating the list, taking 11 spots. Agents in this year’s list come from ERA Singapore, PropNex, Savills, Huttons, Orangetee, and Colliers. Leading the pack is OrangeTee, boasting five representatives. The youngest in this year’s list is also from OrangeTee. This year’s awardees are million and billion sellers in their respective firms and have handled big clients such as VISA, Phillips, Coffeebean, Cornerstone Global Partners, Hitachi Vantara, SAP, Fortinet, and Vantage Data Centres, to name a few. Here are this year’s awardees arranged from youngest to oldest.



After obtaining a Real Estate degree from NUS, Celine Koh excelled as a capital markets and investment sales agent, handling multi-milliondollar properties and billion-dollar en bloc deals. Joining OrangeTee in 2019, she focused on asset management and commercial real estate, specialising in shophouses, retail, and offices. She earned her recognition, ranking in the Top 10% achievers in 2019 and Top 5% in 2020. Celine received the prestigious Top Retail Leasing Award and SEAA 2022 Outstanding Youth award, solidifying her spot in OrangeTee’s Top 3% achievers and establishing her prominence.

Jaden Shi 31, Huttons Asia

Jaden Shi, a rising star at Huttons, achieved remarkable success in just 3 years. His commissions steadily increased, reaching over SG$500,000 (US$300,000) in February 2023. He earned accolades as Top Millennial and Top 3 Producers in Huttons in Q1 2023. Jaden also excels in gaining leads and managing properties for high-net-worth clients. His commitment to excellence exceeds client expectations, leading to referrals from HDB and GCB listings. Eager to learn and fostering good relationships with colleagues, Jaden continues to shine in the real estate industry. 36


Celine Koh 29, Orange Tee


Sophia Lim 32, Savills

As Director at Savills Investment Sales & Capital Markets, Sophia Lim specialises in mid-market assets and has transacted over SG$600m (US$439m) in this segment since 2021. Notable deal includes the SG$23m(US$16.94m) hotel in Geylang. Her expertise also shines in office strata sales, achieving a record-breaking SG$3,350 (US$2,400) per square foot for a single floor at Suntec City Tower 2 with a total of SG$41m (US$30.2m). She offers valuable advice to property developers, private funds, family offices, high-net-worth individuals, staying ahead of market trends.


Ng Wan Ping 30, Savills

During her five years at Savills, Ng Wan Ping, associate director of Commercial Leasing Team, closed 100+ deals totaling SG$135.3m (US$99.7m), earning the 2022 top broker title. Notable deals include Bank Julius Baer’s 75,000-sq ft office relocation and a 222,000-sq ft warehouse transaction. With her seven-year experience, she excels in leases, tenancies, and JTC policies. Transitioning to the private sector, she bridges tenant-landlord gaps, gaining trust from MNCs like VISA, Phillips, and Coffeebean. A respected leader, she fosters teamwork, mentors, and garners admiration from colleagues and bosses.


Tyrese Low 33, Savills

Tyrese Low, senior manager of Industrial and Logistics at Savills Singapore, boasts eight years of cross-functional experience in asset management, lease management, and brokerage. In 2022, he brokered a notable 1 million-sq ft industrial space lease. Over three years at Savills, he completed 40 deals worth SG$171m (US$126m), representing major industrial occupiers like Medtronic and Daimler Group. He also worked with major international and local developers. His approachability fosters strong relationships with asset owners, developers, and REIT managers.


Nazri Baobed 33, ERA Singapore

Nazri Baobed is an accomplished real estate professional with an exceptional track record of achievements. As a recipient of multiple ERA Asia Pacific Elite Awards, including 2022, 2021, and 2020, he has consistently demonstrated his excellence in the industry. His achievements also include being recognised as an ERA Rising Millionaire in 2022 and 2021, as well as coming in 73rd amongst ERA’s Top Achievers in 2022. His expertise in HDB resale transactions is impressive, securing top rankings as one of the Top 3 Resale Achievers for HDB transactions and commissions in 2021 and 2020. His performance has consistently earned him a position amongst ERA's Top 50 Achievers.


Linda Yang 35, PropNex

A PropNex Millionaire from 2020 to 2022 with over 10 years of experience, Linda Yang stays relevant by keeping an open mind, using a statistical approach, and staying connected with clients. Adaptability, client-first mentality, and transparency are vital for success. With her well-known presence in Districts 9, 10, and 11, she has a proven track record in prestigious residential areas. She ventured into District 15 to look for the finest investments. In 2020, she discovered good opportunities for her clients, who now enjoy substantial capital gains of 20% to 35% and a return on equity of 60% to 120%. Her 2023 goals include breaking into new market segments and doubling her team's strength at Linda Yang & Associates (LYA).


Javen Soh 35, ERA Singapore

With a strong belief in delivering exceptional customer service, Javen Soh is dedicated to ensuring a seamless user journey for his clients. He stays ahead of the curve by providing up-to-date market information and offering expert advice tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Javen’s commitment to excellence has earned him well-deserved recognition. Since 2019, he has been receiving the prestigious annual top project tagger award and monthly top project tagger award highlighting his outstanding performance. He is a regular name on ERA’s esteemed Top 50 Achievers list, showcasing his consistent success and exceptional achievements.


Julian Li 36, Huttons Asia

Julian Li is a rising millionaire at Huttons, who has achieved more than SGD$500,000 (US$365,203.45), obtaining rapid success since joining as a part-timer in 2019 and transitioning to a full-timer in 2021. Sample projects he closed are RIVIÈRE, GRAND DUNMAN, and KLIMT CAIRNHILL. He handles various transactions, from room rentals to commercial properties, with equal passion. His inspiring personality and leadership have led to a strong team of over 20 individuals, multiple top recruiter awards, and three promotions from marketing manager to district director. He selflessly shares his experience to help his teammates thrive.


Joan Chua 35, ERA Singapore

Joan Chua has consistently attained top rankings and prestigious accolades. In 2022, she secured a remarkable 32nd position amongst ERA’s Top Achievers. To date, Joan's unwavering commitment has enabled her to be a Diamonds by ERA recipient 9 times, a distinction earned by realtors achieving six-figure commissions in a single month. She also excelled in project sales, securing the titles of Top Project Achiever and Top Project Transactor in July 2022. Her astute investment skills are evident, as she personally acquired two properties last year, a newly launched two-bedroom condo, and a landed property, showcasing her aptitude for wealth creation.


Kevin Chia 36, Orange Tee

Kevin Chia embarked on a real estate career in 2013, driven by financial success. Despite challenges, he persevered, taking on diverse projects to gain experience. Kevin specialised in commercial real estate, particularly HDB shophouses, recognising limited competition in the niche. Trust from customers grew through word-of-mouth and door-to-door efforts, earning him recognition amongst the top 150 agents in four years. He excelled in retail leasing, winning consecutive champion awards from 2015 to 2021. Kevin’s expertise in HDB shophouses solidified his reputation as a trusted advisor. He prioritises seamless experiences and dedicated work, earning him prestigious awards. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Johnny Chia 36, Orange Tee

Johnny Chia, an esteemed leader in commercial real estate at OrangeTee, discovered his passion for the property industry after university. He consistently ranks as a top achiever, securing positions in the Top 10 Achievers and Top 50 Achievers for three consecutive years. Johnny excels in retail leasing, winning multiple yearly Top Retail Leasing Champion awards. His outstanding accomplishments earned him the Emerging Millionaire Award in 2021 and 2022, as well as the SEAA Salesperson Achievement Award (Platinum) in 2022. Started with a small database, his proactive approach led to remarkable success and longlasting client relationships.


Yeo Khim Kieng 38, Orange Tee

Yeo Khim Kieng is a consistent top 10% performer. This performance earned her recognition from Southeast Asia Property Awards (SEAA). She has been with Orange Tee since 2012. With her 11-year stint with OrangeTee, she ensured accuracy by verifying intricate details of various trades, prioritising honest and reliable relationships with each client. Her determination and self-learning abilities stood out as she navigated diverse clientele, primarily business owners. Her tenacity, adaptability, and innovative problem-solving set her apart as a trailblazer in the industry, working with clients from diverse backgrounds and ensuring growth in her career. 38



KS Tan 37, ERA Singapore

Meet KS Tan, a real estate virtuoso with nearly 13 years of experience. He completed 90 transactions in 2022 alone. His in-depth analysis of real estate trends and dedicated research team guide clients to financial success. With his ability to reframe common mindsets and forecast exit strategies, he empowers clients to maximise their investments. Growing up in a modest background, he understands the value of dedication and grit, driving his dream to help clients reimagine real estate and build lasting portfolios. Clients view him as a coach, mentor, and friend, making him a notable agent in this list.


Lindy Lim 38, Colliers

Lindy Lim's impressive client portfolio includes industry giants as well as notable organizations. Her exceptional capabilities as a trusted advisor and reliable partner are evident. Notably, Lindy's remarkable work is seen with her prompt response, proactiveness, and meticulous follow-up. Lindy's ability to understand and anticipate her clients' requirements sets her apart as a true industry leader. Lindy's hard work, dedication, and strategic approach as a Tenant Representative make her a deserving nominee. Her relentless pursuit of client satisfaction, negotiation skills, and long-term vision set her apart as an industry leader, inspiring others in the field.


Matthew Tan 38, ERA Singapore

Matthew Tan has established himself as a seasoned realtor with a sharp eye for numbers. With a decade of industry experience, he has a deep understanding of the real estate market and provides his clients with invaluable insights, guidance, and savvy negotiation skills. Through his dedication and personalised approach, he has grossed more than SG$1m (US$700,000) in sales commission each year in 2021 and 2022 and regularly makes it into ERA’s Top 50 Achievers list. His exceptional track record is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence and his ability to consistently exceed client expectations.


Rachel Ho 39, Savills

As senior manager of the International Residential Services (IRS) Team at Savills SG, Rachel Ho specialises in international residential properties. In her 4 years at Savills, she closed 47 deals worth SG$85m (US$62m). Despite challenges during COVID-19, she secured SG$25m- (US$18.4m) worth of deals in her first two years and SG$40m (US$29m) in her third year. She is also an IRS team spokesperson conducting webinars. Her 12 year-experience with Singapore Airlines as Leading Stewardess provides excellent customer service skills and crosscultural sensitivity, enhancing her ability to handle international projects and highcalibre clientele.


Henry Chia 39, Colliers

Henry Chia’s impressive portfolio includes industry giants like Microsoft, Oracle, Nestle, and Munich RE. Managing 10M+ sq. ft. corporate portfolios in the Asia Pacific region, his expertise in transaction management, strategic planning, and account management consistently delivers outstanding results. He earned recognition with the Sachin Segal of Colliers award in 2021 for exemplary performance, leadership, collaboration, and agility. As a proactive account manager and leader, he anticipates clients' needs, addresses challenges, and strategises for success. His dedication to exceptional results and leading by example makes him a deserving recipient of this prestigious accolade.


Ben Xia 39, Huttons Asia


Ben Xia is a millionaire and the 2nd Top District Director at Huttons for 2022. His diverse portfolio includes HDB, private residential, new project launches, and commercial sales and rentals. As a senior district director, he leads a team of 66 agents, many of whom are new. In 2021, he completed 79 deals, then 66 in 2022 and 47 so far in 2023, consistently earning Huttons’ monthly top producer awards. Ben is highly adaptable and showcased exemplary leadership by sealing deals electronically during the Circuit Breaker period. He assisted buyers in securing units at The Pier @ Robertson and Waterbank at Dakota, applying great customer service at all times.

Donald Lin 39, Orange Tee

Donald Lin won accolades in OrangeTee like Top Project Rookie 2022 and Top Resale Rookie 2022, and ranked in the firm’s Top 5% Achievers list. This makes him a promising agent at OrangeTee despite being relatively new to the industry, joining less than two years ago. With prior experience as a mortgage banker, he switched to real estate in November 2021, driven to carve his path. He focuses on new launches, attracted by the capital appreciation opportunities. His recent projects include Grand Dunman, Lentor Hills, and Lentor Modern. He values building strong client relationships and offering databacked analysis and sound advice.

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Singapore's push for biophilic design targets more than just sustainability Incorporating nature-inspired building elements boosts occupant's productivity, says an architecture expert.


ith Singapore experiencing significantly higher stress levels than the global average (86% vs. 82%), as reported by Cigna International, it is unsurprising that the country's architects are exploring design solutions to reduce stress in office spaces. One concept that architects highlighted in a discussion with the Singapore Business Review is the idea of biophilic design. “Biophilic design engenders spaces that resonate with tranquillity and rejuvenation,” Joe Fu, director for ONG&ONG Architecture, told Singapore Business Review. Ultimately, Fu said such design mitigates stress levels and alleviates anxiety “as exposure to natural elements and patterns has been scientifically linked to a reduction in stress.” “The rising tide of biophilic design principles has illuminated the positive impact on human wellbeing. The integration of biophilic elements within professional environments has emerged as a catalyst for heightened productivity and enhanced creativity,” Fu said.The increasing popularity of biophilic design was also observed by Harvey Lukman, associate director of DP Architects (DPA) and Khoo Poh

Joe Fu Zhuo

Harvey Lukman

Khoo Poh Bin

Bin, deputy managing director of DCA Architects. “Singapore has been actively promoting the incorporation of sustainable architecture into its initiatives, aiming to maximise the utilisation of its limited land space. The prevalence of sustainable and biophilic design, along with the creation of spaces that embrace these principles to generate memorable experiences, has become a significant trend in the realm of architecture locally,” Khoo said. DPA's Lukman said the rising number of buildings in Singapore with greenery landscapes and sky gardens and terraces, reflects the popularity of biophilic design amongst owners and developers. Sustainable architecture Biophilic design is only one facet of sustainable architecture that is being integrated into projects across Singapore. In a bid to even make buildings with less ecological footprint, architects also incorporate energy-efficient systems and environmentally friendly materials into their designs. “Buildings are designed to minimise energy consumption through strategies such as passive solar design, efficient insulation, and shading devices that

Gateway Theatre (Photo shared by Chiang Hui, ONG&ONG Corporate Communications)



reduce heat gain. The integration of energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and smart controls helps further reduce energy use,” ONG&ONG's Fu noted. Lukman shared a similar sentiment, saying, “We are seeing modern interpretation of tropical architecture in the use of passive design strategies such as cross ventilation, ceiling fans, and deep overhangs.” Cross-ventilation and other cooling strategies such as stack effect are crucial for Singapore’s building given its warm climate, said Fu. Other green design features that are gaining popularity in Singapore include vertical gardens and green roofs, and solar energy utilisation. “Solar panels are increasingly incorporated into building designs to harness solar energy for power generation,” said DCA's Khoo. Fu said use of solar panels and other renewable energy sources in building designs also help “reduce reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to carbon emissions reduction.” Lukman believes the use of alternative clean energy sources such as solar power is still at its infancy and believes more energy harvesting innovations will “shape the way architects design” in the future. “The increasing adoption of solar panels, for example, will impact our roofscape design,” Lukman added. Conservation For Singapore’s older and existing buildings, Lukman said adaptive reuse and conservation are good sustainable approaches. “The adaptive reuse of the Golden Mile Complex, a stratatitled development , is a major achievement. We are able to extend the lifespan of the building and add value to the development without rebuilding it from scratch,” he said. The DPA expert added that adaptive reuse and conservation also preserves Singapore’s social values and architectural heritage. To read the full story, go to https://


Singapore’s top architecture professionals under 40


o accelerate Singapore's ambition of making 80% of its buildings green by 2030, more architecture professionals are being engaged to design spaces that support this city-state objective. This year, Singapore Business Review recognises 20 young and award-winning architecture professionals under 40 who contributed to keeping Singapore as one of the world’s best-developed and most sustainable cities. This year’s list is composed of architects from Singapore’s top firms including DCA Architects, DP Architects, LAUD Architects, ONG&ONG Architects, RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (Pte) Ltd, SAA Architects, and Swan & Maclaren Architects. Amongst notable projects this year’s awardees were involved in one of Asia's most sustainable skyscrapers, 8 Shenton Way, and other sustainable developments like TreeTop Lofts in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Campus Green, Tiong Seng Building, and Elementum at one-north. Here are this year’s awardees arranged from youngest to oldest. 3

Kevin Ignasius 31, DP Architects


Jehan Nair 29, DP Architects


Jireh Lee 31, DP Architects

Heartware Network

SAFRA Choa Chu Kang Clubhouse

Jehan Nair focuses on social and community-centric projects. She is currently working on two projects, enhancing heartland spaces for residents whilst refining her context-sensitive design approach. Jehan is involved in DPA’s corporate social responsibility projects: a colab workspace for the youth charity, Heartware Network, which received an SIA Architectural Design Award; and two on-going progressive senior activity centres and an office space for social service organisation, Montfort Care.

Passionate about sustainability and computational design, Jireh Lee brings a unique perspective to the field. He was part of the team that designed the award-winning art installation "Why Green?" at iLight Singapore festival. His most recent completed project is SAFRA Choa Chu Kang Clubhouse, which exemplifies a holistic sustainable approach in its utilisation of renewable energy sources, natural light and ventilation, and eco-friendly building materials, was awarded the The Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy Award in 2023.


Jemina Poh 31, Swan & Maclaren Architects


Shawn Teo 32, DP Architects

Alpha City

Lim See Tai Chong Soo Kiu Keong Tong' temple extension

The Standard Hotel

Kevin Ignasius has worked extensively on regional projects ranging from master planning to high-end mixeduse developments such as Alpha City, a residential-retail tower located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In recent years, Kevin has turned his focus to mission-critical facilities and infrastructure developments. A Certified Data Centre Professional, he co-leads DPA’s data centre typology group and is currently working on data centres and purpose-built industrial facilities. He graduated with a Master of Architecture from SUTD in 2016.

Jemina Poh is a registered architect with a Master's degree from the National University of Singapore. She balances preservation and innovation to shape Singapore's architectural landscape. She also specialises in conserving Singapore's historic fabric, contributing to projects like 'Lim See Tai Chong Soo Kiu Keong Tong' temple extension and Joo Chiat shophouses. Leading a team, she's overseeing luxury high-rise projects: The Landmark Condominium and Creston Residences. She also bridges academia and industry practices, and explores construction's poetics.

Shawn Teo is working on hospitality projects like The Standard Singapore and Conrad Singapore Orchard. He's an advocate of architectural practice research and is a leading member of DPA’s typology study group focusing on hospitality design. He is a published author; he co-wrote DP's "Architects: 50 Years Since 1967" and contributes to publications including The Singapore Architect and built environment journals. He also enjoys academic research and has presented research on Combined Temples and Straits Chinese ornamentation, in regional academic conferences. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023



Amanda Wong 33, DCA Architects


Joe Fu Zhuo 34, ONG&ONG Architects


Melvin Lew 35, LAUD Architects

PSA Liveable City

SMU Campus Green

Church Of The Good Shepherd

Amanda Wong, a BCA-Industry Built Environment Scholarship recipient, has contributed to award-winning projects like PSA Liveable City and NTU – The Arc. Currently, she's involved in 8 Shenton Way, Singapore's tallest and one of Asia's most sustainable skyscrapers, featuring residential, retail, office, and hotel spaces with inviting public areas. Expected to be completed in 2028, it has received the CTBUH Awards Future Project Award 2023 Award of Excellence. Amanda was also recognised for her Commendable Performance in the Professional Practice Examination in 2018.

Joe Fu Zhuo is ONG&ONG's youngest director of Architecture. Recognised as BCA's Built Environment Young Leader, he was enrolled in the BCA Ilead Horizon's Leadership programme. Joe served on the Singapore Green Building Council's Board and advocated for sustainability in his architectural and interior works. He received the Singapore Good Design Award in 2022. Joe is involved in notable projects like St. Joseph Church, Trinity @ Adam, A&A to One Farrer Hotel, Gateway Theatre, and SMU Campus Green. Beyond architecture, he cofounded Boulder Movement, a rock-climbing chain, reflecting his passion for the outdoors.

Melvin Lew, a senior architect at LAUD Architects, has nine years of experience in residential, institutional, community, and religious developments. Sustainability is a key priority for him, both in environmental aspects of architecture and in architectural practice. Notably, he contributed to the design of World Architecture Festival finalists, Grace Baptist Church, and Church of the Good Shepherd. He also recently completed Belgravia Green, an 81-unit strata housing development, as well as a 7-storey building for YWAM Singapore. He is currently involved in a sustainabilityfocused public sector commercial development, striving for net-zero carbon.


Faith Wong 35, LAUD Architects

10 Rathika Florence

11 Neo Wen Hao

Davamoni 36, LAUD Architects

37, RSP

National University of Singapore School of Computing (COM 3)

PCF Sparkletots @ Punggol Shore

Club Street Hotel

Faith Wong, a senior architect at LAUD Architects, has a decade of experience managing public sector projects, including public housing, schools, and institutes of learning. Notably, she was heavily involved in the Green Mark Platinum certified projects, National University of Singapore School of Computing (COM 3) and Tiong Seng Building, both World Architecture Festival finalists. Currently, she's working on a prominent public sector commercial development driving towards decarbonisation goals. Faith has been a registered architect since 2018 and is a certified Green Mark Accredited Professional.

Rathika Florence Davamoni, an associate architect at LAUD Architects, brings expertise in office, residential, institutional, educational, and church developments with more than 10 years of working experience. She values collaborative design and believes in infusing playfulness into functionality. She contributed to the award-winning PCF Large Child Care Centre, a finalist in World Architecture Festival 2018 and recipient of the SIA design Award 2019 (institutional category). Currently, Rathika leads the team in designing the new funeral parlour complex at Bidadari, addressing Singapore's population's needs. She has been a registered architect since 2016.

Neo Wen Hao is an architect with 11+ years of experience, joining RSP in 2012 after obtaining his Master of Architecture from the National University of Singapore. He leads the design of Jervois Treasures, a residential block, and an upcoming 19-storey hotel on Club Street. Currently, he's involved in the expansion and refreshing of a suburban shopping mall, West Mall. Wen Hao actively participates in high-profile design competitions. His designs have been exhibited at prestigious art events, showcasing his commitment to innovation, blending aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability.



ARCHITECTURE 20 UNDER 40 13 Zhang Qian

12 Lim Hui Ying

37, RSP

37, SAA Architects

14 Wayne Lim

37, DP Architects

Singapore Cable Car Sky Network - Sentosa Line

Nanjing Jiangbei Techpark Zone

Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) Mall

Lim Hui Ying excels in diverse projects at RSP. Notable works include Luxus Hills residential development, Sentosa Intraisland Cableway stations, and Mandai West Arrival Node civic development. She's currently involved in pharmaceutical projects, Sanofi's Evolutive Vaccine Facility, and Thermo Fisher Scientific's "Fill-Finish" facility. Hui Ying's versatility empowers her to create functional and well-designed spaces. Guided by simplicity, she focuses on essential elements. Her human-centric approach sets her apart as a respected and accomplished professional in the architectural realm.

Zhang Qian has played a key role at SAA Architects for six years. Her expertise in project schematics and spatial concepts has secured numerous successful design proposals. She has overseen significant projects in China, including the Hangzhou Smart City Master Plan and Sanya Deep Sea Port Mixed Use Development, amongst others. Currently leading the Nanjing Jiangbei Techpark Zone project, she has successfully managed the first phase of construction. Her commitment to sustainability is evident in her distinctive designs; and her precision and effective leadership continue to drive architectural excellence.

Wayne Lim has over 13 years of experience leading large, complex mixed-use development projects across the APAC region. He specialises in the field of engineering-led typology and data centre design. Notable projects like MediaCorp Campus and Bukit Batok National Transmission Centre showcase his missioncritical specialisation. He has master-planned data centres in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, delivering high-performance and sustainable solutions like STT Jakarta 1. Adept in BIM technology, he was involved in projects that required extensive BIM (Revit) coordination such as the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) retail mall.

15 Chen Zhong Xian

16 Ng Cheng Ngai

38, DCA Architects

38, SAA Architects

17 Darryl Toma

38, SAA Architects

Mapletree Business City II


St. Joseph's Nursing Home

Chen Zhong Xian joined DCA in 2013 as an architectural associate, becoming associate director in 2018. He plays a crucial role in implementing smart technology capabilities like BIM, Virtual Design & Construction, and Integrated Digital Delivery as part of DCA's Digital Transformation Roadmap. Key projects include award-winning developments like Mapletree Business City II and PSA Liveable City. Currently involved in Elementum at one-north, a BCA Green Mark Platinum certified biomedical business park with sustainable features, integrated communal areas, and lush landscaping expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Ng Cheng Ngai oversees high-profile projects at SAA Architects, having joined the firm as an intern in 2008, he rose through the ranks. Leading the Rapid Transit System Link (RTS-Link) project connecting Singapore and Malaysia, he facilitates the building of smoother cross-border travel and economic ties. Additionally, Cheng Ngai heads the development of HealthCity Novena, Singapore's largest integrated healthcare hub. He champions sustainability as a Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) Green Mark Accredited Professional (GMAP). With his leadership and design expertise, he drives Singapore's architectural innovation.

Darryl Toma is a USA registered architect from Hawaii who joined SAA Architects in 2012. He has led pioneering projects using Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) in Singapore, including Residence Halls @ NTU and JTC Space @ Tuas. As a project lead, he oversaw the awardwinning St. Joseph's Nursing Home, creating a resident-centric environment. Recently, Darryl completed the renovation of over 1,000 guest rooms at Marina Bay Sands Towers 1 and 2, and he is currently overseeing Tower 3 upgrades. He introduced Building Information Modelling (BIM) at SAA Architects and oversees its implementation. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | Q4 2023


ARCHITECTURE 20 UNDER 40 18 Harvey Lukman

38, DP Architects

19 Sunny Fung

39, SAA Architects

20 Joanna Lee

39, RSP

CanningHill Piers

Woodlands Health Campus

Hotel Mi on Short Street

A registered architect with over 10 years of experience, Harvey Lukman's diversified portfolio includes master planning, residential, commercial, and hospitality projects; amongst the notable developments are Tree Top Lofts in Resorts World Sentosa, eCO condominium in Bedok, and the Orchard Road business study with STB, URA, and CISTRI. He currently leads the DPA residential team on CanningHill Piers in collaboration with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Lentor area residential projects. He was selected to participate in iBuildSG LEAD Horizon Programme. He is a member of DP Architects’ Design Core Committee and Residential Typology Group.

Since joining SAA in 2017, Sunny Fung has excelled in various project typologies, such as master planning, mixed-use developments, retail, residential, rail transit, and education. He played vital roles in significant projects like the Integrated Transport Hub and People Mover System in Sentosa, and the Rapid Transit System Link between Singapore and Malaysia. As project lead, he oversees the construction of the 380-bed Long-Term Care building at Woodlands Health Campus, incorporating a dementia-friendly, clusterliving environment, and inter-generational interaction. He expands his passion through architectural photography, which has previously been featured in the media.

With 13 years as a registered architect, Joanna Lee excels in diverse sectors from hospitality to healthcare, encompassing airports, hotels, and shopping malls. Notably, she was the project architect for the acclaimed One Holland Village mall, with 13,500 sq m of retail space and 7,500 sq m of offices. She led the H&M flagship store in Singapore, which radiates subtle charm by day, undergoes a breathtaking transformation at night, enveloping the structure in an illuminated shield adorned with a mesmerising kaleidoscope of vibrant colours. Joanna's next venture is Hotel Mi on Short Street, adding 500+ guestrooms to Singapore's hospitality scene.






Franchise interest in Singapore’s education enterprises rising

An expert said local education businesses have been performing extremely well in China. credible,” Kong said. Some famous education franchise brands that have done well include MindChamps, Julia Gabriel, and Lorna Whiston.

Franchising is the “safest way” to bring Singapore’s education enterprises to other countries (Photo from Constellar)


ingapore’s education businesses are overtaking food and beverage as a preferred investment opportunity for franchisers in Asia. “Education [has] become the next hot thing. Singapore is well known for our highest standards of education, so it’s a very sought-after model for regional countries,” Astreem Consulting founder, Hsien Naidu, told the Singapore Business Review on the sidelines of the Franchising and Licensing Asia (FLAsia) 2023 held from 17 to 19 September at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. FT Consulting Senior Consultant and Regional Manager Robin Yeo also observed that Singapore has seen more education franchises recently. Naidu said franchising is the “safest way” to bring Singapore’s education enterprises to other countries. “Otherwise our schools would need to go in-country and open. There’s always another set of regulations that protect the educational system [in each country], so it’s better to leverage the franchisor’s experience in education, as well as maximise the local connections of the franchisees in-country,” she explained. 46


Hsien Naidu

Dickson Low

Albert Kong

Franchising and Licensing Association of Singapore (FLA) President Dickson Low attributed the success of education enterprises in the franchising landscape to the country’s “very serious education system.” “[Education] has become a foundation and a backbone of what we are. By using the Singapore story to talk about education in this industry, it will win a lot of trust when it goes to a certain country,” Low said. Asiawide Franchise Consultants’ Founder and CEO Albert Kong echoed this sentiment, adding that it will be easier to convince franchisees to take on an education enterprise from Singapore since the country is well-known for it. “However, the franchisor must always be alert to the changes to the local legal requirements – for instance, the Chinese government in July 2021 issued guiding principles on the regulation of supplementary K-12 classes which can impact the school’s operations significantly,” Kong added. “Commonsensically, if we were to say that Singapore has the best spaghetti or the best burger, it’s not so credible, right? But when you say Singapore is quite good in education, it’s more

Success of Singapore In terms of markets, Low said education enterprises from Singapore do “extremely well” in China. “We are bilingual. We speak Mandarin, we speak English. When our people go there, we can provide English classes with the Chinese and also help foreigners who [want to] enter China to understand the Chinese culture right there,” Low explained. Looking ahead, Yeo said education enterprises will continue to be popular amongst franchisees, citing the success of LCentral and Speech Academy which were amongst the exhibitors during the FLAsia 2023. “As long as we have families with children, there will always be good demand for education businesses,” Yeo said. Apart from education, Yeo and Naidu agree that another brewing hotspot amongst international franchisees in Singapore is health and fitness. “Fitness brands like Spartans Boxing Club, Jal Yoga, these are all Singapore brands that have recently built their success on franchising,” Naidu said. For entrepreneurs seeking to franchise in Singapore, Yeo said replicability, location, and localisation are the keys to success. “If you are an F&B, for example, you need to be at least next to an MRT entrance or shopping centre. Even education [enterprise] must be somewhere that is accessible," Yeo said. “You may need to pay higher rents, but higher rental prices for traffic is better,” he added. Brotzeit German Restaurant and Beer Bar, which already has four branches in Singapore and has successfully expanded in other parts of Asia, said it also does localisation but ensures that the same brand is carried. To read the full event coverage, go to



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Property developers must implement anti-money laundering measures now


ingapore’s real estate sector has seen a tightening of its customer and transaction due diligence requirements. Property developers now need to implement enhanced measures to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. This includes the requirement to conduct customer due diligence (CDD) checks on new and existing property purchasers. These requirements are regulated under the Housing Developers (Control & Licensing) Act and Sale of Commercial Properties Act. These new rules have been put in place by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to tackle the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing in the real estate sector. It has become mandatory for developers to conduct due diligence checks on purchasers, notify purchasers (in the prescribed form) of the documents and information that developers must obtain, and keep proper records of these checks. If they suspect any money laundering or terrorism financing activity, developers have to submit a report to the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office of the Commercial Affairs Department. URA has stated that developers must consider various factors, such as whether the purchaser is from a country that is subject to increased monitoring, and screen them against lists in the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act and the United Nations Act. In addition, developers can also screen purchasers against other sources of information, such as public websites or third-party screening databases. The several possible red flags that can indicate a suspicious transaction, can be categorised into two. First category is checking the purchaser’s profile and behaviour. Under this category are the following: the use of a nominee to purchase the building, a lack of economic purpose behind the purchase, misalignment between the type of property being purchased and the economic activity of the buyer, use of front companies, shell companies or complex structures to mask the true beneficial owner, source of funds, and source of income and source of wealth are not in line with the background and profile of the purchaser. Second category is analysing the transactional patterns. Under this category include the following: purchase was made with a significant amount of cash or with the use of complex financial instruments, payments were made from high-risk jurisdictions without any clear links to the purchaser, and the transaction price is much higher or much lower than the property market value. Challenges faced by developers The new requirements may pose challenges to developers as they formulate strategies and frameworks to ensure that the checks they conduct are sound. For instance, developers may not have



MARC ANLEY Forensic Leader Southeast Asia Deloitte KALYANI VASAN Financial Crime Compliance Leader Southeast Asia Deloitte

implemented screening systems yet. They may also face a shortage of trained personnel with sufficient knowledge to conduct screening or CDD, or to review screening hits. In addition, purchasing property to disguise the funds from illegal or criminal activities generally happens in the third (and final) stage of money laundering. Therefore, the distance created between the original illegal proceeds and the eventual purchase would be difficult for developers to draw links to money laundering. Developers may also be subject to conflicts of interest, as property agents may focus on the rewards of a successful transaction instead of the risks posed by potential buyers and disregard the screening hits. A multi-pronged approach to overcome these challenges There are several actions that property developers should consider taking. Firstly, comprehensive and up to date policies and procedures to address financial crime should be implemented. A risk management framework should also be developed to enable developers to identify risks and introduce the required controls to manage them. The appointment of a screening vendor to aid in the detection of illicit activities should also be considered. In addition, training sessions should be conducted to ensure that staff understand the new requirements and how to implement them. Finally, developers should examine the need to commission an independent audit of their existing financial crime framework, with recommendations provided on how to strengthen them. A proactive approach is key With the date of implementation of the new requirements fast approaching, property developers ought to be proactive in establishing a robust framework rather than take a reactive approach, given the strong impact enforcement can have on the business both financially and reputationally. A developer’s license to operate can be revoked in serious cases of non-compliance. The global anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), had previously cited deficiencies in Singapore’s due diligence requirements applicable to real estate, and the fact that recordkeeping obligations for real estate were not provided by law. Hence, it was made a priority to improve its requirements, with numerous regulations and circulars being introduced since 2018. With another FATF evaluation due for Singapore, the real estate sector should expect additional scrutiny and potential enforcement in these aspects. It is therefore of utmost importance that businesses operating in this sector understand their anti-money laundering obligations and update their internal control frameworks to reflect them. In addition, it would serve them well to implement these changes sooner rather than later.



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