Doing Business

Business Culture and Business Conduct in Singapore

Nora Setiawan

August 18, 2020

This article focuses on business conduct in Singapore and will be divided into 3 parts. The first and second part are about business culture and situation, and the last part is how to conduct a business there!


Singapore’s Business Culture

Being one of the countries of the world economy, Singapore has become shaped by its business culture. The World Bank ranked Singapore as the best country in the world for doing business, and it is also listed as having the world’s 7th most motivated workforce.

Singaporean themselves are very relationship-oriented in business, which means they prefer to cultivate partnerships that will last as opposed to seal a quick deal. However, it could be a long term approach in business relationships, because they generally want to know a great deal about their partners in order to build the trust and loyalty to support business in the future.

The workplaces in Asia are hierarchical based on age and position. Everyone has a different place within their business and must observe the tiering of positions during any negotiation. You may understand that those who have superior positions will not want to deal with those much younger than them.

In addition, you have to know business etiquette in the country. One of the most essential parts of conducting business there is networking. The activities like meetups, professional organization meetings, workshops, conferences, training events, and even luncheons are all popular networking venues in Singapore.

For business professionals exchange business cards almost immediately upon contact, and to show respect to others, you should use both hands when exchanging business cards. Afterward, you should peruse the care attentively and then put it in a professional business card case.

Other than that, you need to be punctual in the business meetings. If you are negotiating something, you may not be loud and aggressive, but it should be a slow and thoughtful process that allows relationships to develop.


Business Situation in Singapore

Singapore is well-known for the ease of doing business and also has been continuously ranked as one of the world’s most business-friendly countries. The country’s economic freedom score is 89.4, making it the world’s freest economy in the 2020 Economic Freedom Index by the Heritage Foundation.

In this year, Singapore made dealing with construction permits easier by enhancing its risk-based approach to inspections, improving public access to soil information, adjusting the process to obtain a construction permit.

Both foreign and domestic businesses are treated equally under the law, and nearly all sectors of the economy are open to 100% foreign ownership. The financial sector is robust, while the number of foreign banks in the market has risen substantially.

Singapore also has the skilled workforce, where you can find the future workforce such as extent of staff training, quality of vocational training, skill sets such as critical thinking, digital skills, and many more.

Additionally, the country is noted for its advanced IT infrastructure, strong government support and intellectual property laws, and for its deep talent pool. According to KPMG’s latest survey, Singapore has ranked 1st as the leading technology innovation hub outside of Silicon Valley over the next 4 years.

Singapore remains connected to growth markets, not just in Asia but in other countries. More than that, it has been recognised as one of the best cities for business and also the most business-friendly regulation in the world. 

Furthermore, one of the benefits setting up a business in Singapore is the competitive cost. For example, the costs of doing business there, including wages and rental have steadily risen. Office rental in Singapore remained lower than that of the rival financial centres, such as London, New York, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

Based on CBRE’s 2019 Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs, Singapore ranked 14th in terms of the most expensive locations globally, it is much far behind Hong Kong Central (1st), London West End (2nd), Hong Kong Kowloon (3rd), New York Midtown Manhattan (4th), Tokyo – Marunouchi or Otemachi (8th), and London City 9th).

These are the reasons why many foreign entrepreneurs are interested in conducting business in Singapore.


Conduct a Business In Singapore

It is no surprise to us when a foreign business owner wants to set up a business in the country. However, there is a thing that you need to know before establishing a business, such as all businesses must be registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) through Bizfile.

The application is typically processed immediately after the application fee is paid, but may take between 14 days to 2 months if the application is referred to another agency for approval or review.

The company registration procedure is online, quick, and efficient. The registration has 3 steps, and these are:

Step 1: Get The Company Name Approved.

Before registering, all Singapore companies must have their name approved by ACRA. The name approval is a simple online procedure and the company name is subject to the following guidelines:

  • The name cannot be identical to an existing business in Singapore
  • The name must not have any trademarks
  • The name cannot be obscene or vulgar
  • The name must not have been reserved by another company

Step 2: Prepare The Company Registration Documents

The next thing you need to do is applying for a company registration, however, you need to prepare the following documents:

Documents required by ACRA:

  • Company Constitution, previously known as Articles of Association. 
  • Signed Consent to Act as a Director for each director
  • Signed Consent to Act as Company Secretary by the company secretary
  •  Identification and residential address details for each shareholder and officer of the company.

In compliance with the international AML regulations, your Corporate Service Provider (CSP) is required by ACRA to conduct a Know Your Customer (KYC) due-diligence and will need the following supporting information:

  • Verification of identification and address proof documents
  • The professional background of stakeholders and officers of the proposed company

Step 3: Register with Singapore Company Registrar, ACRA

Once the documents have been prepared, a company can be officially registered with ACRA. The registration process is online and takes less than an hour. However, in rare cases, if the company registration has to be referred to another government agency for further review, the process can take a few weeks.

There are 2 government fees, firstly, the company registration fee is S$300, and second, the name approval fee is S$15. 

In order to make the process smooth, you need to prepare all the following documents as mentioned above, before conduction and registering your business. It will take a much longer, if you fail to process one of the 3 steps, so it’s better to get your documents ready as soon as possible.

In conclusion, with this article that provides you information, you can start planning to conduct business in Singapore. As you have already understood how are the business culture and situation, and also the 3 key steps of conducting business there! If you are unsure or need someone to assist you, don’t hesitate to contact us below. Viettonkin will always be ready to help you!

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