Swiss com­pa­nies lever­age on Sin­ga­porean work­ers’ ethos

Cur­rently, there are around 400 Swiss com­pa­nies head­quar­tered in Sin­ga­pore.

Singapore Business Review - - COUNTRY REPORT: SWITZERLAND -

Boast­ing of a 28,000-strong work­force com­posed mostly of Sin­ga­pore­ans, Swiss com­pa­nies in the city con­sider lo­cal tal­ent to be their most valu­able as­set. Ed­u­cated, mul­ti­lin­gual, and with a good work ethic, Sin­ga­pore­ans are what keeps Swiss busi­ness boom­ing in ASEAN. In fact, Sin­ga­pore is Switzer­land’s largest trad­ing part­ner in the re­gion, and Switzer­land is amongst the top five in­vestors in Sin­ga­pore.

With bi­lat­eral re­la­tions go­ing back al­most 200 years with now over 400 Swiss com­pa­nies mak­ing their home in the city, the ties be­tween the two coun­tries have been go­ing strong.

Dr Tom Lude­scher, Chair­man, Swiss Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (Swiss­cham), said that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Switzer­land go beyond busi­ness— the two coun­tries share im­por­tant val­ues, such as re­li­a­bil­ity, in­tegrity, and, most im­por­tantly, hon­our­ing one’s word.

“Th­ese shared val­ues, com­bined with a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion make Sin­ga­pore and Switzer­land at­trac­tive for for­eign com­pa­nies and in­vestors, as can be seen from the top scores in in­ter­na­tional rank­ings on busi­ness friend­li­ness and com­pet­i­tive­ness. The long-term sta­bil­ity, pre­dictabil­ity, and cred­i­bil­ity give com­fort for lo­cal tal­ent and in­dus­tries to com­mit them­selves to their home­land and at­tract for­eign tal­ent and for­eign in­vestors,” Lude­scher said.

At present, Swiss com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore em­ploy lo­cal tal­ent for the bank­ing, trans­port & lo­gis­tics, spe­cialty chem­i­cals, biotech, in­sur­ance or reinsurance, and pro­fes­sional ser­vices in­dus­tries. From the birth of Sin­ga­pore in 1965, Swiss com­pa­nies have been a con­stant em­ployer and in­vestor, shar­ing in Sin­ga­pore’s eco­nomic suc­cess.

Rid­ing the Fintech boom

Over the past years, there has been a pos­i­tive track record in suc­cess­ful star­tups in both coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in the fintech space, in­creas­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­no­va­tion. Some ex­am­ples of Swiss tech firms that re­cently launched in Sin­ga­pore are Ad­di­tiv, Ap­p­way, Net­guardians, Squirro or Zuh­lke En­gi­neer­ing in fintech or Entsia in in­surtech. Th­ese star­tups are tar­get­ing the lo­cal mar­ket and of­ten use Sin­ga­pore as their re­gional hub for South­east Asia. With con­tin­ued dis­rup­tion in the dig­i­tal space, tra­di­tional ser­vices and high-tech in­dus­tries in both coun­tries need to step up their game and em­brace change.

“As can be seen from the re­cent ini­tia­tives launched by MAS in the fintech area, such as es­tab­lish­ing a ‘Reg­u­la­tory Sand­box’ for fintech and in­surtech ex­per­i­ments as well as hav­ing a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for the crypto econ­omy and, par­tic­u­larly, ini­tial coin of­fer­ings, Sin­ga­pore has be­come a leader and fron­trun­ner in cre­at­ing a reg­u­la­tory frame­work which will help fos­ter­ing its po­si­tion as a fintech, in­surtech, and crypto hub of world ref­er­ence,” said Lude­scher.

Swiss com­pa­nies prize

Sin­ga­pore’s lo­cal tal­ent also due to the high level of ed­u­ca­tion in the city. Ac­cord­ing to Lude­scher, both coun­tries have a univer­sity land­scape of world ref­er­ence, com­bined with highly mo­ti­vated and en­gaged peo­ple. In this re­gard, the Swiss­cham in­tro­duced the Swiss Busi­ness Award back in

2017 to recog­nise Sin­ga­pore-based com­pa­nies for their ef­forts in de­vel­op­ing their lo­cal work­force. Last year, the Swiss­cham awarded Fir­menich and this year, Möven­pick Marché.

“And per­haps one day Switzer­land and Sin­ga­pore will even con­sider im­ple­ment­ing the free move­ment of per­sons, in­clud­ing stu­dents, em­ploy­ees, and en­trepreneurs. This would be a big step to­wards an even closer ex­change of know-how and tal­ent in both direc­tions and al­low­ing our peo­ple to have the most ed­u­ca­tional and in­spir­ing in­sight into each other’s way of liv­ing and work­ing,” Lude­scher added.

At present, the Swiss­cham in Sin­ga­pore has an an­nual col­lab­o­ra­tion with the St. Gallen In­sti­tute in Asia, of­fer­ing stu­dents from the Univer­sity of St.

Gallen HSG and the Sin­ga­pore Man­age­ment Univer­sity SMU busi­ness con­sult­ing pro­jects with its mem­bers, as part of the stu­dents’ cour­ses to get a real busi­ness in­sight dur­ing their stud­ies.

Per­haps one day Switzer­land and Sin­ga­pore will even con­sider im­ple­ment­ing the free move­ment of per­sons, in­clud­ing stu­dents, em­ploy­ees, and en­trepreneurs.

Emil­ija Ge­orgieva, Deputy Head of Mis­sion Swiss Em­bassy Sin­ga­pore, Roger Na­gler, Coun­try Man­ager Möven­pick Marché Sin­ga­pore, Dr. Tom Lude­scher, Chair­man of Swiss Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try

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