The Somers Partnership’s founder Mark Somers explains how to recruit for a family office in Singapore, as the country rightly becomes an increasingly popular destination for wealthy families, and competition for talent intensifies.
In the centre of the ecosystem of Southeast Asia, Singapore has plenty to entice family offices and experienced family office international executives to its shores. It boasts a trusted legal system, a favourable yet transparent tax system and first-class global connectivity to both Asia-Pacific and global markets. Those moving to the city-state are attracted to its low levels of crime, highly regarded education system and cosmopolitan living.
According to the World Bank Group, Doing Business 2020 report, Singapore is the second easiest location in the world to do business, and it ranked top in the world for political and operational stability in the Global Innovation Index 2019. This has led to a rapid increase in the number of prominent Asian and non-Asian multigenerational families setting up their family offices in Singapore.
The Wealth Management Institute reported that the number of family offices in Singapore doubled from 200 in 2019 to 400 by the end of 2020. Spear’s Magazine quoted the country’s senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who noted that in October 2020 there were approximately 200 single family offices in Singapore managing assets ‘in excess’ of $100 million. Spear’s also highlights figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which reported that assets managed by Singaporean SFOs rose an estimated five-fold from 2017 to 2019.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, The UBS Global Family Office Report 2020 noted that 54% of global family offices plan to increase asset allocations in Asia Pacific over the next five years.
It hasn’t always been this way. For many years Singapore was stuck in the “up and coming” category, in the shadow of its neighbour, Hong Kong. However, the well documented political unrest in Hong Kong and the city’s stringent Coronavirus restrictions (which even extended to hamsters!) have led many expats to leave, and the principals of family offices and those in the wealth management sector are now increasingly turning to Singapore as a trusted location to steward wealth.
Driving the family office market in Singapore
In recent decades Singapore has worked hard to attract foreign investments and the government is keen to now cement itself as a vibrant global destination for family offices in Asia. It offers a range of tax incentives to attract family offices, which come with a range of requirements, including the size of funds, hiring local employees and utilising local office space.
Numerous initiatives have also been launched to help support the family office community and enable families from across the globe to interact, share ideas and create business networks.
In July 2020, Singapore’s Institute of Banking and Finance launched the Family Office Advisor and Family Office Professionals Skills Maps. Developed in consultation with the industry, the institute says: “These serve as a guide to deepen specialist skill sets in Singapore’s family office ecosystem.”
In October 2021 The Wealth Management Institute launched the Global-Asia Family Office Circle (GFO Circle) network, to help further grow family offices in Singapore. Supported by The Singapore Economic Development Board and The Monetary Authority of Singapore, it was launched to enable those in the sector to share best practises and build new capabilities.
Speaking at the launch, Jillian Lim, Executive Vice President of the Family Office Development Team at the Singapore Economic Development Board, said: “Family offices play an important role in Singapore’s economic growth, by bringing patient capital, business expertise and networks which help spur entrepreneurship, innovation and philanthropy here.
“The GFO Circle will strengthen Singapore’s position as a hub for family offices by bringing global and Asian family offices together to exchange insights, explore new investment and philanthropic opportunities from Singapore.”
The government, industry bodies and universities have also worked together to develop the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) FinTech Collective, to help develop industry-ready professionals. This ensures that the infocomm technology (ICT) skills taught by the universities meet the rigorous demands of the industry. As FinTech continues to become an increasingly vital area for family offices, this focus on ICT will further help future-proof the sector in Singapore.
Increasing competition for talent in Singapore
There are approximately 2,000 billionaires in the world, and as Singapore increasingly becomes the jurisdiction of choice for many wealthy families, there will invariably be a tussle for top talent.
While there is certainly impressive talent already in Singapore across the financial, investment and wealth management sectors, there simply isn’t enough to go around. With so many family offices setting up in Singapore, and at such a rapid rate, finding local staff with exactly the right skill sets is incredibly challenging, and highly competitive.
Some families will look to relocate their existing family offices to Singapore, however a large proportion will be newly founded. For those 200 family offices which have recently been incorporated, that equates to 200 chief investment officers, 200 financial directors and 200 of each of the experts a team needs to function.
First-class candidates are most certainly out there, and they are looking for opportunities where they can make a significant impact. By utilising the services of a specialist recruitment consultancy you will be able to choose from candidates from across the world to staff your talent bench.
Your tailored family office recruitment service
If you are looking to make Singapore a base to manage and invest your family’s wealth, The Somers Partnership can help you attract the best global talent.
Our dedicated and well-connected team are based in the UK, and we frequently conduct worldwide talent searches to find exceptionally talented professionals. We can access the dynamic, experienced and visionary individuals that will lead and transform your team and manage your family’s wealth.
By choosing the Somers Partnership you will be working with one of the leading recruiters for the Family Office sector globally. Your search will involve our extensive and bespoke databases, alongside our team’s vast experience in staffing family offices, gleaned from 17 years of operating in the field. Our track record in delivering outstanding candidates to our clients around the world is unrivalled.
If you would like to discuss how to recruit top talent for your family office in Singapore or any financial hub across the globe, please get in touch.