How Singapore Investment Firms Stay Competitive Globally

September 8, 2020 - Samrat Malakar

Singapore investment firms are uniquely positioned to benefit from their connections with the rest of the world, and with the right strategy, opportunities for growth are in their favor.

There’s never a dull moment in this world, and sometimes Singapore finds itself in the middle of it all.

The island city-state has a built a reputation for its trusted neutrality on the world stage. There is a reason US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un chose to meet there.

Sure, this sounds like politics, but in fact Singapore investment management firms can ride the wave of goodwill the nation has built over the years.

After all, with policy changes in Hong Kong, some look to Singapore as an attractive alternative for capital. What’s more, the regulatory environment is favorable and attractive to outside investors.

By recognizing these opportunities and developing the right strategies, Singapore wealth and asset managers can develop a competitive edge.

How Singapore Investment Managers Stay Competitive

Expand Global Marketing Efforts

Reaching out to prospects within Singapore goes without saying, but with less than six million people in the territory, domestic opportunities can only go so far.

Consider looking beyond the borders for new clientele, and be sure to highlight the merits of bringing wealth and assets there.

Marketing Is a Long Game

Think of marketing like planting seeds of a tree. Sometimes it takes a few years before that tree grows big enough and produces fruit.

When firms plant their marketing seeds, they should not expect immediate results in the near term. Marketing a is a long game that pays dividends in the long term.

Good marketing requires an understanding of that ideal persona, demonstrating expertise and credibility in a given area and relaying that message effectively to desired audiences.

Also, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Different segments will needed to be catered to differently.

Referral Marketing

Given the notable presence of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western residents in Singapore who have ties to their countries of origin and/or ancestral homelands, their potential connections overseas can serve as a starting point.

For firms with both employees and clients having ties abroad, building that global referral network is one way to aid marketing efforts.

Another option is to hire employees who reside or can reside in desired countries for outreach, serving as drivers of business to the organization.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is another avenue to pursue.

One area to start with is the company website. Optimizing the pages with relevant keywords will bring viewers to the website. This optimization process is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If the content and selling points are convincing enough, viewers will initiate contact.

Make it easy for them by adding the necessary call-to-action (CTA) buttons and forms to fill out. One of our earlier posts explains 7 ways investments firms can generate leads online.

Once aware of a new lead, be quick to respond.

Another approach is identifying the right social media platforms (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, WeChat, Instagram, etc.) and target your advertising campaigns according to relevant characteristics (age, gender, location, language, etc.).

Just like the website, provide proper CTAs on the social platforms, and respond to inquiries promptly.

Given heightened travel restrictions due to COVID-19, digital outreach campaigns are a good option when in-person forms of marketing are not feasible.

Likewise, when in-person meetings aren’t possible, firms should be ready to communicate with prospects via video chat.

Become a Thought Leader

As part of expanding their digital presence, firms can produce content for the purpose of educating prospects.

These are not direct selling approaches, but audiences will begin to trust the group that shares this helpful information. When they are ready to look for a wealth or asset manager, the prospects will consider the source that has been educating them.

As it relates to Singapore investment firms, some ideas of thought leadership may include (but not limited to) educating audiences in the following areas:

Depending on a firm’s expertise on a given topic, they can share that with prospects accordingly. Such information can be disseminated in the form of social media posts, blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars, etc.

Learn how financial advisors become thought leaders.

Improve the Client Experience

Those with a diverse clientele understand that the relationship-building process is anything but cookie cutter.

Being in a multi-cultural environment, investment companies in Singapore would understand that different client segments require different degrees of engagement.

As an example, Chinese clientele may place more emphasis on personal relationship building, whereas Western clientele may not require as much.

Obviously, there are generalized examples, but the point is to recognize that differences amongst clientele exist, and organizations should cater to the clients’ needs.

Clients’ priorities will vary in terms of values. Furthermore, their life experiences, amounts of wealth, and length of time possessing that wealth all factor into what makes for a unique client.

Thus, Singaporean wealth and asset managers can improve the client experience by continuing to tailoring their services to fit client needs.

Language

Multilingualism is not uncommon in Singapore, and English is widely spoken and understood in the country.

Even if clients are proficient in English, they may appreciate being able to communicate in their native tongue, whether it’s Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, etc.

When it comes to talking about money, family, and sharing goals and feelings, there is something to be said about communicating in one’s native language.

For the respective clientele, investment firms should have financial advisors and portfolio managers who can communicate in those languages.

Religious Considerations

No matter one’s background, investment goals are more or less the same: grow and preserve family wealth, generate maximum returns on investments for stakeholders, and/or retire comfortably.

Although the end goals are the same, the methods of achieving those goals differ. This is especially true when it comes to religious beliefs.

Singapore is neighbor to three Muslim countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Singapore itself has a Muslim population that accounts for roughly 15% of the country.

As a client segment, Muslims may request investment solutions that are halal, or permissible in Islam.

Islamic law prescribes investment principles for Muslims, most notably:

Having team members who understand Islamic Finance and how to best serve Muslim clientele is another way to gain a competitive edge.

Learn more about Islamic Finance.

Digital Adoption

Because of COVID-19, the demand for digital solutions has only accelerated.

Even among older people, who typically have “resisted” web- and mobile-based technology, they are becoming more tech-savvy.

Meeting in-person is not that simple at present, and the communication and sharing of investment portfolio details further increase demand for digital platforms.

Within Singapore and Asia at large, use of mobile wallets and digital banking are increasingly widespread. All-in-one apps like WeChat make it easy to pay for anything, to the point where the idea of making payments through cash or a credit card looks outdated and inconvenient.

Given they are comfortable with mobile for payments and banking, they will expect to handle their investment portfolios over digital, too.

Five or ten years ago, having a digital platform was a way to stand out among competitors, and even then, it was treated as a “nice addition, but not necessary.”

Now, adopting financial technology that allows clients to access their portfolio in real time from is becoming standard. In this case, the main differentiator will be the quality of platform and digital offerings.

Keep Costs to a Minimum

Singapore has a lot in its favor.

The country is developed, the government is stable, crime is low, education standards are high, and the business and regulatory environment is one of the best in the world.

These characteristics make for a great place to attract wealthy people and their assets… but that’s where Singapore is a victim of its own success.

Land is limited, and the concentration of wealth within the island is quite high. The result is Singapore is an ever-expensive place to live and work.

For wealth and asset managers in Singapore, controlling costs is a must.

Operating Costs

When it comes to operations, one way firms can control costs is by evaluating and upgrading their technology.

Are their pieces of technology that are underused, outdated, and not compatible with other systems? These are costs in both money and lost productivity.

In those cases, it’s time to phase out the older/legacy technology and use turnkey-style systems that combine functionality and interact well with other software.

Singaporean investment firms need turnkey solutions that save them time and allow them to scale their business, especially when their marketing efforts start producing results.

Tamp1 on iphone

Our TAMP1 platform, for example, contains those turnkey features. The platform handles all performance and portfolio accounting functions, and it has a client-advisor portal, where both parties can access accurate investment portfolio details in real time.

This platform eliminates the needs for other systems, thus keeping costs down and productivity high.

Automation

One aspect of high costs is paying people to do work that is manual, routine, and ultimately error-prone. Obviously, this is inefficient and does not provide optimal value to the firm.

Automating such work can help cut costs, and we wrote a piece on how automation works for money managers.

Automation does not mean “replace humans.” What it means is redirecting humans to focus on higher-level activity that generates revenue for the company. We also wrote a piece on investment management jobs where humans are needed the most.

Reduce Office Space

RIA office space

Another cost-controlling measure is reducing office space. COVID-19 has shown that it is possible for work to be done remotely, and consequently fewer people need to be at the office on a regular basis.

One of our recent articles discusses the topic of office space in more detail.

Singaporean Investment Firm Global Competitiveness Realized

Singapore investment management firms can stay globally competitive by taking advantage of the unique position Singapore is in as an international trading and finance hub.

Relying on local clientele only goes so far; they should develop a global marketing strategy, promoting the merits of Singapore’s business, tax, and regulatory environment, as well as the high-quality service of the firm itself.

High-quality service starts by improving the client experience, in ways we mentioned above.

Finally, staying competitive is about being efficient, and one way to do that is by reducing costs.

Just as the nation itself has become globally competitive through its resourcefulness and focus on efficiency, Singaporean wealth and asset managers by extension know and have what it takes to stay globally competitive.

Empaxis Data Management, Inc. is a leading provider of operational and financial technology solutions for investment management firms worldwide.

Our TAMP1 platform helps wealth and asset managers increase efficiency and scalability for their business, providing an all-in-one place to view data clients’ investment data and reports. Schedule a demo.