Strategically located to serve Asia Pacific, Singapore is a well-regulated global financial sector reputed for its robust legal framework.
Financial and Professional Services sectors in
Strategically located to serve Asia Pacific, Singapore is a well-regulated global financial sector
reputed for its robust legal framework. Singapore has also topped the World Bank’s Doing
Business rankings for the past 6 years.
Home to over 600 financial institutions and more than 100 foreign law firms, Singapore is well-
regarded as a triple-A rated economy, making it the only Asian country with this rating. The
financial services sector currently constitutes about 11% of Singapore’s GDP, while the legal
sector has outperformed the overall economy, posting growth even during the worst of the
recession in 2009. As one of the top 4 most active foreign exchange trading centres in the world,
Singapore is the second largest over-the-counter derivatives trading centre in Asia, and a leading
commodities derivatives trading hub. Singapore is also recognised as one of the premier asset
management locations in Asia, with total assets under management of around S$1.4 trillion (£0.7
trillion). Being a key insurance marketplace in the Asian time zone, Singapore serves as a base
for insurance and reinsurance firms to write regional and international risks.
ξ Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced changes in June 2012 to its
Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) programme to encourage foreign banks to deepen their roots
in Singapore. For QFBs that operate as local subsidiaries, MAS will consider granting
such QFBs an additional 25 places of business, of which up to 10 may be branches. These
QFBs will be able to operate up to 50 places of business in Singapore.
ξ Insurance Act: MAS is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Insurance Act (IA).
This is to strengthen MAS' powers for effective regulation and supervision of insurers,
enhance clarity on some Act provisions, and align the regulatory approach where possible
with those taken in the banking and securities sector. The changes will be incorporated
into the IA and its subsidiary legislations in 2012.
ξ Access to regions: Singapore seeks to enhance its connectivity to growth markets, not just
in Asia but also beyond. As part of this initiative, Singapore has concluded Free Trade
Agreements (FTAs) with major economies, including the United States, China, Japan,
India, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Jordan. There are ongoing FTA
talks with other countries. These FTAs provide privileged access to the markets of
partner countries. The EU-Singapore FTA currently being negotiated is targeted for
conclusion by end 2012.
Latest export opportunities in the Financial & Professional Services sector
Latest export opportunities in the Philippines
Getting into the market
The financial services industry is governed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
MAS offers tax incentives and grant schemes under the Financial Sector Development Fund for
financial institutions seeking to establish their operations in Singapore. Institutions in the
banking, finance and insurance sectors are required to obtain the relevant licences from MAS in
order to carry out certain regulated financial services activities.
Foreign Law Practices (FLPs) looking to establish in Singapore are required to register at the
Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). Every FLP must have professional indemnity insurance
coverage in Singapore against any claim, of not less than the sum of $2 million. Written proof of
the insurance coverage must be furnished by the applicant firm at the time of its application for
The Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme allows FLPs to practise certain permitted
areas of Singapore law. QFLPs and Joint Law Ventures (JLVs) can hire Singapore Lawyers
(SLs) and Foreign Lawyers (FLs) holding Foreign Practitioner Certificate (FPCs) to practise
Singapore law in “permitted areas of legal practice”.
FLs who satisfy certain eligibility criteria may sit for the Foreign Practitioner Examination and
obtain a FPC to practise Singapore law in an Singapore Law Practice, QFLP or JLV in the same
“permitted areas of legal practice”.
The Singapore Courts are given discretion to admit Queen’s Counsel and foreign counsel of
equivalent distinction on an ad-hoc basis for complex commercial and financial cases.
Other entities can register with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
More about doing business in Singapore
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
ξ Phil Hickson, British High Commission Singapore. Tel: +65 6424 4323 or email:
ξ Abby Chan, British High Commission Singapore. Tel: +65 6424 4388 or email:
Contact your local international trade team
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events in the Financial & Professional Services sector
Latest events from Singapore
Private Banking Asia
Date: 12-14 March 2013
Website address: http://www.terrapinn.com/conference/private-banking-
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters