Singapore positions itself to become a global leader in professional services
City state’s base of multinational companies creates strong demand for value-added activities
When Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) joined forces recently with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) in a three-year collaboration to advance the country’s modern marketing services, it marked another milestone in the city state’s ambition to become a global leader in professional services.
The O&M initiative includes data analytics, customer engagement marketing, marketing automation, user experience design and digital media. Among the goals is for the Singapore office to lead Asian innovation and develop a strong pipeline of Singapore talent in the sector.
Aligned with the Singapore Smart Nation programme through which the government aims to empower Singaporeans through technology, the company’s new venture reflects efforts to integrate with local policies while importing their expertise.
Kelvin Wong, assistant managing director at EDB, says: “Our goal is for Singapore to be a leading global hub where global brands partner different players in our marketing ecosystem to develop and pilot digital marketing innovations for the region and beyond.
“To achieve this, it is important for the marketing ecosystem here to build up capabilities in areas such as creative technologies and marketing analytics. We are therefore heartened by Ogilvy’s choice of Singapore as one of its key hubs to grow its modern marketing capabilities.”
O&M and a host of marquee professional services companies have already set up a base in Singapore, with 44 per cent of companies using it as their headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region. EDB, the government agency responsible for developing the sector, says the country consistently ranks highly among the world’s easiest places to do business.
Emerging multinational companies from Asia are also starting to use Singapore as a springboard for growth.
The EDB says that Singapore’s sophisticated base of multinationals creates an environment for value-added activities, such as intellectual property (IP) and brand equity management, mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings, which makes it an attractive market for professional services firms.
O&M Singapore group chairman Chris Riley adds: “With EDB’s partnership, we will further our shared mission to create locally impactful, globally influential solutions that lead the change and drive innovation for the many brands and businesses that have made Singapore their home base in Asia, as well as the broader economy and society.”
Among the key sectors being developed in the professional services industry are legal and accounting. In April, the Singapore Ministry of Law outlined a number of recommendations to strengthen Singapore’s standing as a global leader for legal and accounting services.
Among the recommendations is to capture international demand for Singapore legal and accounting services so that it can be the go-to place for international transactions, and encourage Singaporean firms to spread out and become global brand names. The working group also recommends training legal and accounting professionals to be ready to tackle and advise on future trends and practices.
The working group identified nine high-growth practice areas which can help drive the demand for Singapore’s legal and accounting services, and for which the Lion City’s legal and accounting sectors can become globally recognised – business valuation, corporations, dispute resolution, finance, IP, internal audit, projects & infrastructure, restructuring, and risk managing and corporate governance.
The working group states in a report: “The vision for Singapore is to serve as a trusted global exchange for financing, brokering, structuring and dispute resolution for international commercial transactions.
“To perform this role, Singapore needs to establish a strong global market position for high value, specialised and cutting-edge legal and accounting services. Its law and accounting firms must be competitive, with top firms breaking new ground to become international and regional leaders.
“Practice leaders and professionals need to work closely with academics to establish Singapore as a leader in pioneering and setting standards for the region and the world. Finally, it needs a pool of future-ready professionals and leaders who are highly ethical, skilled, internationally connected, business-orientated, innovative, technologically savvy, and forward thinking.”
It adds that Singapore is in a strong position to fulfil these goals because of the opportunities available in the country along with Asia’s intensified position as an engine of growth for the global economy.
“Singapore is also an international hub for business, finance, commodities, shipping and trading. The deals that are transacted through Singapore as a hub serve as a demand base for legal and accounting services.”