Currently, there are around 400 Swiss companies headquartered in Singapore.
Boasting of a 28,000-strong workforce composed mostly of Singaporeans, Swiss companies in the city consider local talent to be their most valuable asset. Educated, multilingual, and with a good work ethic, Singaporeans are what keeps Swiss business booming in ASEAN. In fact, Singapore is Switzerland’s largest trading partner in the region, and Switzerland is amongst the top five investors in Singapore.
With bilateral relations going back almost 200 years with now over 400 Swiss companies making their home in the city, the ties between the two countries have been going strong. Dr Tom Ludescher, Chairman, Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SwissCham), said that the relationship between Singapore and Switzerland go beyond business—the two countries share important values, such as reliability, integrity, and, most importantly, honouring one’s word.
“These shared values, combined with a culture of continuous innovation make Singapore and Switzerland attractive for foreign companies and investors, as can be seen from the top scores in international rankings on business friendliness and competitiveness. The long-term stability, predictability, and credibility give comfort for local talent and industries to commit themselves to their homeland and attract foreign talent and foreign investors,” Ludescher said.
At present, Swiss companies in Singapore employ local talent for the banking, transport & logistics, specialty chemicals, biotech, insurance or reinsurance, and professional services industries. From the birth of Singapore in 1965, Swiss companies have been a constant employer and investor, sharing in Singapore’s economic success.
Riding the Fintech boom
Over the past years, there has been a positive track record in successful startups in both countries, particularly in the fintech space, increasing the opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Some examples of Swiss tech firms that recently launched in Singapore are Additiv, Appway, Netguardians, Squirro or Zuhlke Engineering in fintech or Entsia in insurtech. These startups are targeting the local market and often use Singapore as their regional hub for Southeast Asia. With continued disruption in the digital space, traditional services and high-tech industries in both countries need to step up their game and embrace change.
“As can be seen from the recent initiatives launched by MAS in the fintech area, such as establishing a ‘Regulatory Sandbox’ for fintech and insurtech experiments as well as having a supportive environment for the crypto economy and, particularly, initial coin offerings, Singapore has become a leader and frontrunner in creating a regulatory framework which will help fostering its position as a fintech, insurtech, and crypto hub of world reference,” said Ludescher.
Swiss companies prize Singapore’s local talent also due to the high level of education in the city. According to Ludescher, both countries have a university landscape of world reference, combined with highly motivated and engaged people. In this regard, the SwissCham introduced the Swiss Business Award back in 2017 to recognise Singapore-based companies for their efforts in developing their local workforce. Last year, the SwissCham awarded Firmenich and this year, Mövenpick Marché.
“And perhaps one day Switzerland and Singapore will even consider implementing the free movement of persons, including students, employees, and entrepreneurs. This would be a big step towards an even closer exchange of know-how and talent in both directions and allowing our people to have the most educational and inspiring insight into each other’s way of living and working,” Ludescher added.
At present, the SwissCham in Singapore has an annual collaboration with the St. Gallen Institute in Asia, offering students from the University of St. Gallen HSG and the Singapore Management University SMU business consulting projects with its members, as part of the students’ courses to get a real business insight during their studies.
Ludescher said that they are also active in organising know-how events that promote the latest developments in science, technology, economy, and politics. They co-host events with members, offering them a networking space and a platform to present their organisation and product or service offering. They also organise several social and cultural events, such as an annual gala dinner.
Swiss excellence with a Singaporean touch
Hilti Singapore is set to bringing state-of-the-art digital solutions as an answer to local construction sector’s woes. VP Bank caters to its client’s individualised needs with top-notch advisory services.
When Hilti first opened its doors in Singapore 50 years ago, no one could have predicted that the city-state would play a crucial role in the company’s global growth story. Hilti Singapore has grown from its humble beginnings to become a true leader in the domestic construction sector, driving innovation through cutting-edge products and services.
“As part of the global company, Hilti in Singapore is very strongly connected and supported by strong global team and lead markets, such as Switzerland,” said Gavin Gui, general manager of Hilti Singapore. “We trace our roots to Schaan, Liechtenstein, where Hilti was founded in 1941 and where we have our global headquarters and Innovation Centre. Globally, we run a direct sales business model across 140 countries.”
Hilti’s products and services are proof of its commitment to improving construction productivity and safety. In the past few years, together with its customers in Singapore, the company has been actively exploring faster and safer ways of doing construction projects.
“All construction companies face double challenges of increasing labour costs and lower bidding price. Therefore, they badly demand for savings in operations. Such challenges lead to great opportunities for improvement in productivity and safety, which perfectly fit into what Hilti can offer,” explained Gavin. “This is why most of our premium drilling machines come with safety features to help prevent jobsite injuries. Also, our cordless power tools and dustless solution have in recent years become a health, safety, and environment (HSE) recommendation in many key projects in Singapore,” he added.
On top all of these, Hilti also provides customers with its state-of-the-art Fleet Management solution. This is an all-inclusive service, which helps customers manage their inventory and maintenance of Hilti tools, reduce the risks of downtime, and, hence, save money and improve productivity.
Hilti is also actively investing and developing construction solutions, using the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to connect physical objects with digital information and processes. Its latest product is the ON!Track Asset Management, which provides critical information with a single click.
“ON!Track gives customers complete clarity into what assets they have, where the assets are, and who is using them, and when the assets need maintenance. With this critical information at their fingertips, our customers can efficiently get their assets where they need to be—keeping their jobs on track and profitable,” Gavin said.
Strength in diversity
Apart from its innovative services, Hilti is also proud of its elite workforce in Singapore. It has over 170 talented professionals from more than 25 countries, with vast diversity in terms of academic background, work experience, age, and gender. “Singapore is a strategic location for our talent development for local and global leaders. We have exported dozens of Singaporean talents to our HQ and other markets. Singapore is also a fantastic destination for the talents from other parts of Hilti world. Even in the downturn, we have expanded our sales, engineering, and service teams,” Gavin said.
Through its committed professionals, Hilti helps its customers ease into its IoT services. “The technology is the enabler, but people makes the difference,” Gavin noted. “We understand that digital transformation requires organisational change management and a focus on people. We set up a dedicated service team to offer professional on-site-analysis.”
The company also interacts daily with more than 9,000 contractors and engineering firms through its direct sales team, engineers, customer service, Hilti Store, and Hilti Online. By building in-depth connections with its clients, Hilti has established itself as a market leader in construction, providing solutions for fastening systems, power tools, and fire protection.
Apart from its investments in manpower, Hilti also remains committed to investing in infrastructure. Looking forward, Gavin is optimistic on Hilti’s future prospects in Singapore and the wider region.
“To celebrate our 50-years presence in Singapore, we will invest even more. We have established our regional hub, Hilti Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, to accelerate Hilti’s development in ASEAN, India, Australia, and New Zealand, and build a modern Regional Training Centre facility. With these, we are ready to bring more global innovations and contribute more to the development of Singapore’s construction sector,” he says.
For over 60 years, VP Bank has been at the forefront of world-class banking and prudent wealth management. With its impartial and personalised services, the bank helps its clients make smart investment decisions.
As one of the largest banks in Liechtenstein, VP Bank is committed to providing top-notch customised solutions for every client, offering tailor-made asset management and investment advice for both private individuals and intermediaries.
It established its Asian subsidiary in Singapore in 2008. The Singapore branch provides specialised wealth management solutions and family office services for high-net-worth clients and professional asset managers.
“VP Bank is committed to grow safely ahead in both Singapore and the Asian region, with 2018 marking a special year for VP Bank Group as we celebrate our 10th anniversary here in Singapore,” says Bruno Morel, Chief Executive Officer, VP Bank Singapore. “Backed by a solid balance sheet and capital adequacy, VP Bank stands squarely behind continuity, independence and sustainability – just as how we have for the past 60 years,” he says.
Top-notch financial solutions
VP Bank is the partner of choice of its high-net worth clients, thanks to its unblemished reputation for providing top-notch advisory services. It is free from any conflict of interest as the bank itself does not supply investment products.
Instead, it provides a full range of advisory services and offers tailored solutions in the areas of asset management and investment advisory services. “VP Bank is committed to offering a first-class individualised service that caters to the personal needs of our clients. We believe there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the needs of our clients. Each and every client is unique and deserves the very best,” says Christoph Mauchle, VP Bank’s Head of Client Business and member of the Group Executive Management.
“We are also highly flexible with our streamlined hierarchies where decisions are taken expeditiously, and direct contact with top management can be arranged with minimal red tape. Intermediary clients benefit from the direct access they have to the trading rooms in Singapore and Liechtenstein/Switzerland, which cover the key time zones for securities transaction purposes,” adds Morel.
The bank’s approach stresses the importance of advisors and specialists having personal contact with their clients, along with additional support from digital tools so that advisors can serve their clients even more effectively in today’s fast-paced business climate.
Digitalisation at the forefront
To further improve the quality of client care, VP Bank is focussed on implementing its digitalisation strategy. In 2018, these measures will focus mainly on the client side, such as modernising communication channels and expanding the range of online offerings.
A new e-banking system was also launched in May this year.
“Automated and digital processes are employed by the bank’s experienced and knowledgeable staff to address basic client needs, and also to propose optimal solutions for more complex client needs,” Mauchle says.
To provide clients with even better support, VP Bank introduced the new “ProLink” intermediaries platform, which offers extensive round-the-clock information on all investment and regulatory matters. We will continue to devote considerable resources in this area, in the years ahead,” he adds.
VP Bank is celebrating its 10th year in Singapore with a bang. For one, it will be upgrading its offering from subsidiary to branch. It will also be broadening its license from a merchant to a wholesale bank. The new structure will be implemented by 1 September 2018.
Spotlight on Asia
The bank is also set to double its current headcount of 50 across the intermediaries and private banking segments within the next three years. This year also marks the first time that VP Bank Singapore will be collaborating with a local educational institution through a knowledge partnership, in which VP Bank will collaborate with the Business Families Institute at Singapore Management University (BFI@SMU) to present a panel session in September 2018, titled Safely Ahead - Towards A Lasting Legacy beyond Wealth Transfer.
“As a boutique bank, we are clearly positioned as a source of top-notch financial solutions for a demanding clientele. We do not engage in risky investment banking activities, nor do we offer retail banking services in Asia,” Mauchle says. We intend to recruit up to 40 new advisors in Asia. Plans are that the proportion of total Group revenues attributable to VP Bank’s foreign target markets will increase from the current approximate 30% to 50% – and Asia will play a central role in this regard,” he says.
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