Business operations, strategies need to be reconsidered to integrate companies’ ESG goals: CLA Global TS leader
This comes as companies are now urged to have a more sustainable business.
Henry Tan is currently the Group CEO & Chief Innovation Officer of CLA Global TS Group (formerly Nexia TS). He has been serving as an advisor to clients in Singapore and the region, where he has assisted companies, especially entrepreneurs, since 1993 to grow their business in Asia through IPO, M&A, Accounting, and other advisories.
Tan has many years of experience in the Chinese market, where he sits on the board of a number of listed companies. He has also become a taxation advisory to companies entering into Singapore and Chinese markets in respect of structuring of business, as well as a restructuring advisory to a number of Chinese companies for doing business and fundraising outside of China.
He mentioned that the recent Singapore business landscape is threatened by the convenience of talents being able to seek overseas job opportunities amidst the reopening of borders, with many being eager to explore a different working and living environment.
“Singapore can retain its top talents by encouraging firms to invest in creating a corporate culture that meets changing needs of talents,” he said.
Tan spoke with Singapore Business Review to discuss how the recent economic movements will affect the Singapore business landscape, as well as how companies can measure their success amidst the need for a more sustainable future.
How do you think the Singapore business landscape fared in the past year? Are there any trends that we need to watch out for?
A year filled with uncertainty; Singapore businesses did well in recovering from the pandemic. After two years of remote or hybrid working models, businesses have transformed through digitalisation or innovation. Businesses took time to plan for recovery; and became stronger and more prepared in dealing with economic headwinds and impacts from geopolitical conflicts. Trends to watch out for include mergers & acquisitions – where businesses collaborate to gain competitive advantage; and incorporating sustainability & climate change consideration in business decisions and operations.
How do you think Singapore can retain its top talents amidst the economic challenges it faces?
Singapore can retain its top talents by encouraging firms to invest in creating a corporate culture that meets changing needs of talents. Talents are always looking out for job opportunities with innovative cultures, flexible working arrangements, benefits that evolve with time and employers that listen to them.
With borders opened, it becomes convenient for talents to seek overseas job opportunities again. Especially after the two years of restrictions, many are eager to explore a different working and living environment.
On the other hand, Singapore has proven itself to be a stable, safe and strong country in helping Singaporeans and businesses to overcome the pandemic. Assisting Singaporean firms to expand overseas or connecting them with global organisations, could open doors for talents who are keen to stay with a Singaporean firm but with a global exposure opportunity.
Singapore’s economic growth this 2023 is expected to ease between 0.5% to 2.5%. What challenges does this forecast pose for businesses in the city-state?
The economy slowdown will affect business growth. On the other hand, cost increases and inflation will compress profit margins. Those on very thin margins may not survive and those with lesser margins will find it tough to grow. It requires innovation and thinking out of the box.
What will be your key performance indicators in measuring businesses’ growth and success this year? How can businesses attain these?
To have a sustainable business, a healthy balance sheet could measure the growth and success of the firm. Businesses should seek advice from business advisors to aid them in making informed financial and business decisions.
The staff retention rate also measures the success of the firm. People are the most important asset of a company. When our people win, our clients and our communities win. The ability to retain talent builds staff loyalty. Strong staff loyalty translates into working in the firm’s and client’s best interest.
As many companies around the world are now urged to commit to a more sustainable future, how can Singapore businesses comply with sustainability and ESG programmes? What can they do to stay on top of this undertaking?
At the heart of climate reporting, business operations and strategy will need to be reconsidered to integrate the ESG goals of the organisation with its business performance. There are many initiatives to move people and businesses closer to ESG targets, to decarbonise such as green financing and industry programmes. In addition to reducing carbon footprint, businesses should also focus on the social and governance aspect of ESG, as it balances the needs of people and regulators with that of the environment to promote ambitious, yet achievable, targets for the companies it works with.
Frameworks such as Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) could be applied to a climate reporting programme on an organisation level. Businesses should consult Sustainability and Climate Change business advisors to get advice on risks and opportunities businesses may face in Singapore, especially with upcoming changes to the sustainability reporting regime that companies face in the coming years.
What are you expecting to see amongst this year’s entries?
I hope to see more entries that are into sustainability, innovation and solving key issues like healthcare, wellness, care for the elderly and food shortages.