Why Singapore? Why Now?
According to a recent report by Boston Consulting Group, private wealth in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) jumped 31% to $37 trillion last year. As the 4th largest financial centre behind New York, London and Hong Kong, Singapore is well placed to capitalise on this boom especially within the insurance industry.
As a major insurance recruiter in Asia, a question we are frequently asked is "why move to Singapore?" The answers we give include the following:
Ravi Menon, the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently described Singapore as a "Global Insurance Market Place". It is recognised as a regional Reinsurance hub with 16 of the top 25 Reinsurers in the world having regional offices there. By 2020 the vision is to accept global risks, with serious headway already being made in some areas; for example Singapore is ranked second to London in structured credit and political risk. This will expand across all sectors as insurance is expected to increase 8% per annum, with Asia predicted to account for 40% of the global insurance market by 2020.
With a wave of regulatory change, new products and the concentration of catastrophe risk in the region, there are plenty of job opportunities for Actuaries.
As a place to live
Of the 5 million people living in Singapore nearly 2 million were born overseas. This creates a vibrant mix of cultures, cuisine and languages.
Culture - Singapore recognises major Chinese, Western, Malay and Indian festivals through public holidays. This diversity is at the heart of what makes Singapore a tolerant and all-encompassing place to live.
Cuisine - With the multi-cultural backdrop comes an array of food. Dining, along with shopping, are often seen as the national pastimes of Singapore. From the hawker centres on street corners to the Michelin starred restaurants in stunning locations overlooking the City, there are dishes available for every budget. Chilli crab is famed in Singapore and if you can overcome the smell, durian is the 'national fruit'.
Language - Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil with English being the business language. That being said, everyday you will hear languages from around the world being spoken.
Travel in & around Singapore
Singapore is ideally located for travel; with the beaches of Bali or the temples of Myanmar a short flight away. There are plenty of budget airlines who have affordable and well timed flights in and out of Singapore making short trips to idyllic locations quick and cheap. This is made even easier by the fact Changi Airport was rated the World's Best Airport in the 2014 World Airport awards.
Within Singapore it is just as simple to get about. Taxis are reasonably priced with a daily taxi to work often being cheaper than a Zone 1 London tube ticket. Public transport is straightforward; both the bus and the MRT (the tube) are efficient and air conditioned with tickets costing less than £1. Unlike most other major cities, there is no need to own and drive a car.
Cost of living
This year Singapore was named the most expensive city in the world in a 2014 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. This is largely driven by rent and cars. However once you arrive and start looking there is a huge variation in what you can get for your dollar. 20/30 minutes away from the City centre rental prices become more palatable. You also get a lot more for your money with most properties being securitised condominiums with large swimming pools, on-site gyms, tennis courts and in some cases climbing walls! Shopping around is essential and the process can become complex. If you can go direct or if you're sharing, join Facebook groups or websites like EasyRoomMate.com to find the best deals.
Cars are deliberately expensive to avoid congestion and restrict numbers to stop Singapore becoming the traffic jam of neighbouring Asian cities. To buy a car in Singapore you have to buy a licence which can be as much as the car itself. Therefore most rely on the excellent taxi and public transport system.
The benefit of Singapore is its low tax, equating to around 15% of annual earnings for a normal taxpayer. This makes saving money a lot easier with an increased disposable income compared to London.
Also has anyone told you how safe and clean Singapore is?
Making the move
If you have ever contemplated a career move within insurance abroad and would like to explore Singapore a bit further please contact us. In addition to having substantial information with regard to the Asian insurance job market, we can advise you on much more including housing, schooling, banking and relocation. The good news is that work permits for skilled professionals are easy to receive although new rules will apply from August 2014 so please email us today to get the latest information. We look forward to hearing from you.
DIRECTOR - HFG
+65 6829 7153