Swiss companies leverage on Singaporean workers’ ethos
Currently, there are around 400 Swiss companies headquartered in Singapore.
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