Spotlight on Expat Living – Singapore


Singapore – The Market
Everything in Singapore is so efficient, so ordered and so clean that, once you’ve worked there, it really is a very hard place to leave. The city is quite a contrast to the more chaotic Bangkok and the less organized Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, the financial services market in Singapore is sophisticated and well-regulated. Indeed, Singapore hosts the world’s fourth largest financial centre.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set high standards and gives the impression that it is not overly keen to issue new IFA licenses – they would probably prefer to have fewer “small” IFA organizations to oversee. Once an IFA firm exceeds 20 advises it is no longer considered by the MAS to be a “small business”. This has a number of implications for the IFA firm concerned. For example, the CEO is no longer permitted to sell (he/she is expected to focus on supervising/managing) and the business must have a locally-based, full-time compliance manager.

New recruits undergo a full credit check and must pass the local FS exams which may take between 5/6 weeks to complete. These exams must be undertaken while in Singapore (although the course work can be studied prior to arrival in the city-state). Although the recent FAIR initiative considered banning up-front commission and replacing it with trails and fees, this idea has been shelved for now.

Out of the total population of 5m, there are approximately 40,000 English-speaking expats in Singapore served by 12 Licensed IFA firms and approximately 120 advisers. Expats in the region work in a wide range of industries including Oil/Gas, Marketing, Legal, IT, Engineering, etc. Earnings are high and there are large numbers of HNW individuals. Unsurprisingly, average case sizes are higher than in neighboring countries and successful IFAs earn well into six-figures.

Singapore – Living and Working there
Everywhere, practically without exception, in Singapore is clean. Highly urbanized, all the housing areas are modern and functional. People are industrious, hard-working and professional – Singapore enjoys the 3rd highest per capita income in the world. Yet there are still huge infrastructure projects taking place that will see the world’s busiest container port (after Shanghai) being moved to the west of the island with a waterfront city rising in its place adjacent to the business district. There are plans for a fourth runway at Changi airport (regularly voted the best in the world) and for a high-speed rail network that will carry travelers the 192 miles to Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes (my recent train trip took 9 hours!). Needless to say, everyone expects the projects to be delivered on time and within budget. This is Singapore, after all.

The transport system (underground) is exceptional – efficient, clean and cheap. Taxis are also efficient and good value. But the cost of living is higher than many other countries in the region. Don’t even think of buying a car. I paid the equivalent of £7 for a pint of beer by the waterfront; which was a lot better than the £11 a pint I had been charged at Raffles Hotel. You will need around £1,750 per month to live reasonably comfortably (or £2,500 for a higher standard). Rent would be between £750 and £1,000 per month; food, about £400/£450; and depending on your tastes, £500 per month for entertainment.

Singapore is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family. It is safe but it is not cheap. It has beautiful buildings, hotels, shopping areas, restaurants and bars. To thrive, you would do well to adapt some of the characteristics of the city sate itself – be structured, organised and professional. This is a real business location, wonderfully well organised, with great places to visit and to entertain and a great city for real professionals to make real money.

If you are keen to explore some of the exciting opportunities we have on offer in Singapore, please go to these links right now:

Wealth Manager / Financial Advisor or Wealth Management Consultant.

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