Optimising Tax Compliance & Strategies in Asia: Transfer Pricing, E-Invoicing and Global Mobility

Optimising Tax Compliance & Strategies in Asia: Transfer Pricing, E-Invoicing and Global Mobility

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Optimising Tax Compliance & Strategies in Asia: Transfer Pricing, E-Invoicing and Global Mobility

As the tax landscape continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve is essential for ensuring compliance and optimising your tax position. We are delighted to present our latest tax newsletter, highlighting the key tax issues and showcasing our regional team’s specialised tax services.

From transfer pricing strategies to Malaysia’s E-Invoicing implementation and global mobility tax services, our regional team of tax advisors is committed to assist you in navigating the ever-changing tax landscape across various countries, with particular focus on Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and China.

We look forward to partnering with you to achieve compliance, optimise your tax position, and drive business success.

 
 

Transfer Pricing Services


Navigating Transfer Pricing in Asia: Insights into Regulatory Compliance and Optimisation

Transfer pricing continues to be a critical area of focus for multinational enterprises across different countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and China. 

We offer transfer pricing solutions tailored to each client's specific corporate and business requirements, ensuring compliance with local regulations and alignment with global best practices. 

Our regional tax team provides guidance on transfer pricing documentation requirements, helping clients maintain transparent and defensible transfer pricing policies. With our extensive experience across various industries and jurisdictions, we assist clients in optimising their transfer pricing strategies to enhance tax efficiency and minimise compliance risks.
 

 
 

E-invoicing Services


Transitioning to E-Invoicing in Malaysia: Key Insights for Taxpayers

As Malaysia moves towards mandatory e-invoicing, our tax advisory and compliance services are aimed at assisting businesses and taxpayers in transitioning to e-invoicing, in compliance with the requirements of the Malaysian Inland Revenue Board (IRB). 

We offer a structured approach to the clients, starting from understanding the regulatory tax framework to implementing e-invoicing solution. We also offer tax training sessions and workshops to help businesses and taxpayers effectively transition to e-invoicing, ensuring a smooth and seamless process.
 

 
 

Global Mobility Tax Service


Expanding Horizons: International Success for Employers & Employees through Global Mobility Tax Solutions

With increasing globalisation, managing the tax implications of a mobile workforce has become more complex.

BoardRoom offers a range of global mobility tax services, including tax planning and compliance, to ensure that businesses and their employees are compliant with tax laws in different jurisdictions, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and China.

Our regional tax team is ready to help advice on tax equalisation and other relevant issues, helping clients manage the complexities of international assignments. We also offer advisory services on structuring global mobility arrangements to maximise tax efficiency and minimise compliance risks.
 

 
 
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Corporate governance best practices at all levels of the company

Corporate governance best practices at all levels of the company

Corporate governance best practices at all levels of the company

In business today, robust corporate governance isn’t just a box that business owners and boards must tick; it’s a strategic imperative that fuels operational excellence and gives businesses a competitive advantage. Beyond policies on compliance, good corporate governance embodies the core ethos of an organisation, shaping its culture and ensuring transparency and accountability, which are essential for sustainable growth. Organisations that have woven corporate governance best practices into their DNA can enhance their long-term success.

In this article, we delve into the purpose of corporate governance, exploring how it goes beyond policies to become the cornerstone of effective risk management, stakeholder alignment and long-term strategic planning.

We explore the role of the board of directors in ensuring good corporate governance and how the company secretary and even employees have a role to play. Discover how a holistic approach to corporate governance, as well as maintaining a strategic partnership with company secretarial experts, can drive success in Singapore’s evolving business environment.

The purpose of corporate governance

Corporate governance is a framework of rules, practices and processes that govern how a company is directed and controlled. While corporate governance encompasses compliance and policies, its significance extends far beyond these aspects, shaping the cultural and operational fabric of an organisation.

Ngiam May Ling, Associate Director of Corporate Secretarial, BoardRoom Singapore, says one of the core roles of corporate governance is to enhance transparency and accountability in processes, reporting and decision-making. “By operating transparently, companies build trust among stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees and regulators,” says May Ling. “Organisations that consistently demonstrate transparency and accountability tend to attract long-term investors interested in sustainable growth rather than short-term gains.”

A robust corporate governance framework also leads to more effective risk management. By constantly identifying, assessing and managing risks, companies can avoid potential crises and mitigate the impact of unforeseen adverse events. This approach fortifies a company’s resilience and ability to navigate challenges.

Good corporate governance also aligns the interests of stakeholders with the company’s goals. A clear delineation of roles and responsibilities helps prevent conflicts of interest. This alignment encourages collaboration among stakeholders, driving sustainable growth and value creation.

Corporate governance should also include long-term strategic planning and goal setting. This strategic focus creates enduring value for shareholders and other stakeholders, as well as better reputations and enhanced brand value.

Another tangible benefit of effective corporate governance is enhanced investor confidence. This confidence makes it easier for companies to raise funds through equity markets, debt financing or venture capital.

Strong corporate governance plays a pivotal role in shaping organisational culture, promoting transparency and accountability, managing risks effectively, aligning stakeholder interests and enhancing investor confidence. These elements collectively contribute to sustainable growth, value creation and stakeholder trust and confidence in the long term.

Corporate governance strategy

Corporate governance strategy

Good corporate governance starts at the board level. “Several big companies that are listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange have been consistently recognised for their strong corporate governance practices,” says May Ling. “They have large and diverse boards, some up to 10 directors. The boards of these companies are also very accomplished.”

Strong, diverse boards ensure robust corporate governance through a variety of key principles and practices, including:

The business has a clearly defined framework that promotes transparency, impartiality and accountability across all functions.
Corporate governance principles are embedded in the business culture through an established set of values and the strategic appointment of experienced and diverse leadership across the organisation.
Sustainability principles are integrated with corporate governance to ensure a company’s operations align with broader ethical and societal interests. For example, a company policy on their commitment to ethical sourcing.
There are clearly defined boundaries between the responsibilities of the board and management.
The board adheres to a transparent process when recruiting and appointing directors.
The board engages in an annual formal assessment process to evaluate its effectiveness as a whole and the effectiveness of individual directors.
The business has board committees, typically an audit committee, nominating committee and remuneration committee to ensure minimum standards of corporate governance.
The process for determining the remuneration packages of board members and members of management is formal and transparent.
All shareholders are treated fairly and equally.

The SGTI: a corporate governance benchmark for businesses

Good corporate governance can also help public-listed companies score well on the Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI), a valuable benchmark for assessing corporate governance practices in Singapore. The SGTI assessment framework includes a broad range of assessment criteria, including aspects of the board such as its competencies and independence, the directors’ remuneration and how they are selected, and board responsibilities.

Beyond shareholders, corporate governance is also important to stakeholders, so the company’s relationship with other parties is also assessed under the framework.

Transparency and disclosure are also key metrics. This includes clear and comprehensive reporting of financial performance, corporate policies, governance structures and risk management practices.

Role of the board of directors

The role of the board of directors in ensuring good corporate governance

The board of directors is pivotal in setting the company’s strategic direction and ensuring that management aligns the company’s strategies with its objectives and values. This involves evaluating business plans, approving major investments, and monitoring performance against strategic goals.

The board also oversees the company’s risk management framework, ensuring that risks are identified, assessed, and appropriately managed. This includes monitoring financial, operational, legal, and reputational risks, as well as ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and ethical standards.

Financial oversight is one such critical aspect. The financial reporting process should be supervised to uphold accuracy, transparency and compliance with accounting standards and regulations. This is often facilitated through board committees such as the audit committee.

The board is also responsible for appointing and overseeing management, ensuring they possess the necessary skills, experience and integrity to lead the company effectively.

Succession planning is another board responsibility in corporate governance. This requires the board to collaborate with the nominating committee to ensure a continuous pipeline of talented leaders for future key roles.

The board also ensures the company’s adherence to legal, regulatory and ethical standards by establishing codes of conduct and ethical guidelines for employees. The guidelines often include provisions for whistleblowing protection to safeguard the identities of whistleblowers.

These actions collectively reflect good board practices in corporate governance and underscore the importance of the board of directors in corporate governance initiatives.

In Singapore, boards of directors are expected to uphold high standards of corporate governance to protect shareholder interests, promote transparency and accountability, and contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of companies.

The role of compliance in corporate governance

Compliance plays a pivotal role in corporate governance within a company, acting as a foundational element that ensures the organisation operates within legal and ethical boundaries. This includes overseeing the development of risk management frameworks that identify, assess and manage risks effectively with a focus on compliance-related risks like know your customer (KYC), anti-money laundering (AML) and conflicts of interest (COI).

The key governance practices essential for compliance in order to maintain effective corporate governance within an organisation include:

  • Establishing guidelines for regularly reviewing and updating customer verification processes to prevent identity fraud, ensure financial integrity, and uphold the company’s reputation.
  • Defining AML policies and ensuring robust systems are in place for the monitoring of financial transactions to detect and prevent illegal activities like money laundering.
  • Setting policies for identifying, disclosing and managing conflicts of interest to ensure all decisions are made in the company’s best interest and uphold the highest ethical standards.

The role of the company secretary in corporate governance

The role of a company secretary is instrumental in establishing and maintaining good corporate governance practices.

Companies secretaries undertake the following responsibilities to foster corporate governance:

They act as a liaison between the board of directors, management, shareholders and regulatory authorities, maintaining regular communication with regulatory bodies.
They ensure company compliance with relevant laws, regulations and corporate governance standards, providing ongoing education to the board on legal updates.
A company secretary coordinates and organises board meetings. This includes preparing agendas, board packs and minutes, with a focus on accurately capturing action items for accountability.
The company secretary facilitates the directors’ access to necessary information and serves as the primary point of contact for shareholders regarding governance inquiries.
The company secretary maintains accurate and up-to-date corporate records, which are essential for demonstrating compliance and facilitating regulatory audits.
The company secretary also has the responsibility of providing training to directors on governance practices and responsibilities, contributing to overall corporate governance effectiveness.

The role of the employees in corporate governance

Employees also play a role in ensuring good corporate governance including KYC, AML and COI policies.

May Ling says employees are expected to adhere to high ethical standards. “This will contribute to a culture of integrity and trust within the organisation, which is fundamental to good corporate governance.”

At a minimum, employees can be expected to comply with policies and procedures. They should be encouraged to contribute to good corporate governance by conducting themselves ethically, supporting compliance efforts with audits and participating in compliance initiatives and programs.

Employees will need training to understand their roles and responsibilities in upholding regulatory compliance and ethical standards, including recognising potential risks and knowing how to address them. They should be encouraged to report any suspicious activities or potential conflicts of interest to the appropriate channels in the organisation, which contributes to a culture of transparency and accountability.

Partner with BoardRoom team of experts

Partner with a team of experts you can trust

Corporate governance is an important strategic component of success for all businesses. Good corporate governance enhances an organisation’s transparency and accountability, ensuring compliance. However, corporate governance best practices also foster a positive and high-performing organisational culture that can drive sustainable business growth.

It’s critical for all businesses to have a strong corporate governance strategy and for boards and management to play a key role in ensuring these measures are followed.

With a full suite of corporate secretarial services in Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific region, BoardRoom can help your business in all aspects of corporate governance.

BoardRoom also provides comprehensive support for your business’ statutory and regulatory compliance needs, including:

  • Advising on statutory and regulatory compliance obligations, ensuring accurate reporting of company or corporate structure changes to relevant authorities, and assisting with stock exchange compliance and company announcements.
  • Maintaining statutory registers, minute books and company records, and attending board and shareholder meetings while preparing minutes and resolutions.
  • Drafting and reviewing corporate governance reports, performing gap analysis of corporate governance frameworks, and enhancing governance rankings.
  • Drafting and revising the board charter and terms of reference for board committees, along with policies related to insider trading, board diversity, transactions of interest, whistleblowing, investor relations, sustainability and business ethics.
  • Conducting annual performance evaluations of the board, board committees, and individual directors, including assessing the independence of proposed independent directors.

To discover more about corporate governance and how BoardRoom can help, get in touch with the team today.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Ngiam May Ling

Ngiam May Ling

Associate Director of Corporate Secretarial

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

Related Business Insights

Accounting services in the midst of the accountant shortage

Accounting services in the midst of the accountant shortage

Accounting services in the midst of the accountant shortage

In recent years, Singapore has faced a growing discrepancy between the demand for professional accounting services and the supply of qualified accounting graduates, which has proved challenging for businesses reliant on precise and timely financial oversight.

Yang Shuzhen, Director of Regional Accounting Services at BoardRoom Group, says the shortage of accountants in Singapore means businesses face potential operational issues, including the disruption of daily accounting functions and increased risks of non-compliance with tax and reporting requirements. These disruptions can also lead to reputational risks and strained relationships with vendors and clients due to the inability to meet financial obligations or report accurately.

Here, we explore strategic solutions, including outsourcing and professional development, to ensure businesses continue to have uninterrupted access to high-quality, reliable accounting services.

Mitigating risks with outsourced financial accounting services

The gap between supply and demand for qualified accountants is impacting organisations across the board, with a 10% decline in students pursuing accounting degrees during the past five years. In fact, it’s projected that an extra 7000 professionals will be required by 2025.

As companies grapple with this shortage, they may face operational disruptions across multiple areas of their business, such as:

Day-to-day accounting functions
The absence of key accounting staff can disrupt daily operations such as invoice management and financial reconciliation. These disruptions not only affect internal workflows but also compromise the timely execution of financial responsibilities.
Failure to meet compliance requirements
The shortage of accountants in Singapore heightens the risk of non-compliance with stringent accounting and regulatory standards, which could result in legal penalties. Maintaining a robust accounting department is crucial to avoid significant compliance risks and associated legal repercussions.
Reputational risks
Operational disruptions can lead to delays in payments and may force vendors to shorten credit terms with your company. This in turn results in cash flow management issues and may strain relationships, damaging your company's reputation with partners and vendors.
Internal and external reporting requirements
Both internal decision-making and external stakeholder transparency can suffer due to delays and inaccuracies in financial reporting. This can result in poor strategic decisions and a loss of investor confidence.
Impaired decision-making
Reliable data is crucial for evaluating performance and setting growth targets. A lack of accurate data hinders decision-making, leading to prolonged investigations into discrepancies and delaying crucial business decisions. As Shuzhen notes: “Without accurate data, making decisions about the current state and future directions becomes very difficult.”
Tax compliance requirements
Tax compliance is another critical area that could be adversely affected by Singapore’s accountant shortage. Preparing accurate tax filings and meeting submission deadlines is essential to avoid penalties and ensure regulatory compliance. With insufficient accounting staff, meeting these requirements becomes a challenge.
Outsourcing accounting business

Why outsourcing accounting could be beneficial to your business

Finding ways to mitigate the implications of the ongoing shortage of accountants is vital. That’s why outsourcing accounting services has become a key strategy for many businesses.

There are many advantages of outsourcing accounting services, beginning with repetitive, rule-based accounting tasks like accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR). This approach alleviates immediate staffing issues while also streamlining operations, allowing companies to focus on more strategic activities.

By outsourcing these routine functions, businesses can take advantage of specialised accounting services, including access to broader teams and skilled accountants who are well-versed in handling large volumes of transactions efficiently and accurately. This shift ensures continuity and reliability in financial reporting and enhances overall financial management.

Customising accounting functions

Shuzhen highlights flexibility as one of the key advantages of outsourcing accounting services. “In accounting, there’s a real ability to either fully outsource everything or just select specific tasks that are inefficient for the client to handle in-house,” she says.

Many businesses have traditionally viewed their financial operations as a single, indivisible block, adhering to an all-or-nothing approach. However, realising that these tasks can be managed independently reveals new opportunities for enhanced efficiency and specialised management.

“Clients often struggle to imagine the impact of removing a segment from their finance department, fearing that removing just one part could cause the entire system to collapse,” Shuzhen explains. “When outsourcing, there are typically specific challenges the client needs addressed, and our approach at BoardRoom isn’t to overhaul everything at once but to suggest incremental changes that enhance the overall function without disrupting the core processes.”

Process and efficiency improvement

Another reason why outsourcing accounting services is compelling for companies is the insight into best practices and innovations that dedicated professionals can bring. By applying recommended improvements, organisations can benefit from enhanced productivity, reduced operational costs, and a more strategic approach to financial management, ultimately leading to better financial outcomes.

Ensuring compliance

Outsourcing accounting functions, especially when facing internal resource limitations, also ensures that businesses remain compliant with regulatory requirements. Outsourcing firms specialise in compliance and are adept at keeping up-to-date with the latest changes in accounting standards and regulations. This is crucial for businesses operating in multiple jurisdictions or in complex regulatory environments. By leveraging the expertise of these providers, companies can avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance, such as fines, penalties and reputational damage.

Ensuring compliance

Responding to the shortage of accountants in Singapore

In tackling the challenges posed by the shortage of accountants, leveraging technology, professional development and education for staff is essential.

Enhancing efficiency with technology

Using advanced technology can streamline tedious, manual processes, thereby reducing the workload on existing staff and allowing them to focus on more strategic, high-value activities. Technologies such as AI and automated data processing can enhance efficiency and accuracy in accounting tasks.

At BoardRoom, we are actively addressing the traditional perceptions of accounting as a labour-intensive field by integrating advanced technologies such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and AI into our operations. In doing so, the BoardRoom team also ensures that the adoption of these technologies does not compromise stringent internal controls. Our expert staff review the outputs from automated processes to maintain high standards of financial reporting.

Investing in talent

Ongoing professional development ensures staff remain current with the latest accounting standards and practices while growing their skills in new technologies and methodologies. This kind of training boosts morale by showing investment in employees’ career growth and enhances adaptability to changing business environments.

Shuzhen underscores the importance of such initiatives, saying: “Investing in our staff’s growth not only prepares us for the future but also helps in retaining talent by involving them more deeply in the business and organisational culture.”

BoardRoom demonstrates its commitment to enhancing the skills and knowledge of its workforce through several partnerships and recognitions:

  • Recognised employer partner of CPA Australia: BoardRoom is committed to the professional growth of its employees, providing them with continuous learning and development opportunities.
  • ACCA Approved Employer: BoardRoom has achieved this prestigious status in two categories – Professional Development and Trainee Development, Gold. This highlights the management team’s dedication to nurturing their workforce.
  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA): This partnership allows BoardRoom accounting staff to access industry best practices, engage with subject matter experts, explore thought leadership content and pursue top-tier professional qualifications.
  • Chartered Accountant Accredited Training Organisation (ATO): As an ATO, BoardRoom offers early employment opportunities to Chartered Accountant (CA) candidates. By hiring, training, and developing Singapore CA Qualification candidates, BoardRoom provides them with the necessary resources and support to fulfill the three-year practical experience required to qualify as a Chartered Accountant of Singapore.
Investing in talent

The way forward

As businesses navigate the evolving landscape of financial management amidst shortages and technological shifts, partnering with a company like BoardRoom can provide the expertise and innovation needed to safeguard financial operations. BoardRoom’s strategic approach to leveraging technology, combined with a commitment to continuous professional development, ensures that clients receive high-quality accounting services tailored to meet today’s challenges.

BoardRoom offers a comprehensive suite of accounting services, including regulatory compliance, financial reporting and risk management. By entrusting these critical functions to BoardRoom, companies can enhance their operational efficiency, maintain compliance with ever-changing regulations, and harness the power of cutting-edge technology in financial management. Explore how BoardRoom’s accounting services can help your company adapt and thrive in this evolving environment.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

ShuZhen

Yang Shuzhen

Director of Regional Accounting

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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Unlock the Power of Evidence-Based ESG Data with ESG Access

ESG Banners for Website May 2024

Unlock the Power of Evidence-Based ESG Data with ESG Access

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Welcome to the May issue of BoardRoom's Think ESG Newsletter.

This edition, we shed light on the vital role that evidence-based Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) data plays in driving meaningful change. We'll share more on how having an ESG sustainability reporting software can make an impact to your ESG initiatives and take it to the next level.

By harnessing the power of BoardRoom's ESG Access intuitive features on data collection, reporting and analytics, you'll be able to make informed decisions that not only benefit your business but also contribute to a more sustainable and responsible future. So, let's dive in and discover the incredible opportunities that await!

 
 
 

 
 

Our ESG expert, Tina Thomas, was recently featured in the May edition of the Global Supply Chain Magazine. In it, she joins Nitish Jain, a professor at the London School of Economics, to share more on the impacts that the ESG regulations in EU have on the rest of the world, with a focus on Malaysia. 

 

Click HERE to read the entire magazine.

 
 
 
 
 

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All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is: [email protected]

 

What is transfer pricing? A guide to understanding opportunities and risks

What is transfer pricing? A guide to understanding opportunities and risks

Transfer pricing is a fundamental financial strategy for multinational companies operating across various jurisdictions. Over the years, countries around the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China, have established specific documentation requirements for transfer pricing to prevent tax evasion and ensure compliance.

In simple terms, transfer pricing is used to determine the fair pricing of goods, services or intellectual property exchanged between related entities in the same enterprise. Understanding what transfer pricing is and how it can be used to optimise tax liabilities is an important strategy. However, businesses have to be mindful of navigating complex regulatory frameworks. Tax authorities have sharpened their focus on transfer pricing arrangements, especially in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, where compliance is vital.

Singapore’s tax authority demands meticulous documentation and adherence to the arm’s length principle, which ensures that transacting businesses are on equal footing. This not only ensures regulatory compliance but also fosters fair profit allocation across borders, which also enhances tax efficiency.

In this article, we explore the complexities of transfer pricing and the essential guidelines businesses must grasp to navigate these challenges effectively.

The purpose of transfer pricing: A key business strategy

Effective transfer pricing plays a pivotal role in audit management, global tax efficiency and risk management for multinational enterprises (MNEs). To leverage transfer pricing strategies effectively, MNEs must ensure their records are up to date to navigate complex tax landscapes and mitigate risks effectively.

Compliance and risk mitigation
Effective transfer pricing requires comprehensive documentation to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements. It provides a clear record of how transfer prices are determined, how they align with the arm’s length principle, and how they are substantiated by economic analysis. This practice is crucial for audit management as it provides evidence of compliance but also mitigates the risk of penalties and disputes with tax authorities.
Tax efficiency
Strategic transfer pricing reporting allows companies to optimise their global tax positions. By documenting transfer pricing policies, the methodology employed and its rationale, a business in Singapore can justify its tax position and allocate profits in a manner that maximises tax efficiency. This strategic approach to tax planning helps to reduce tax liabilities while ensuring business objectives and regulatory obligations are met.
Staying ahead of changes
Businesses need to stay on top of ever-changing regulations and market dynamics, especially when they operate internationally across multiple jurisdictions. Staying ahead of changes can be daunting, but MNEs can enhance their transfer pricing strategies by actively monitoring and analysing shifts in regulations, industry trends and economic conditions. Taking a proactive approach allows businesses to adjust transfer pricing strategies accordingly, maintain compliance and capitalise on tax optimisation and risk management opportunities.

Because transfer pricing reporting combines compliance with proactive risk management and tax-efficiency strategies, for many global businesses, it’s a cornerstone of their corporate governance strategies.

The key to successful transfer pricing in international business

In today’s interconnected business landscape, MNEs face the challenge of optimising transfer pricing strategies across diverse jurisdictions while ensuring compliance with various regulations and tax rates.

As BoardRoom’s Managing Director Asia, Tax, Eunice Hooi understands the compliance pressures faced by MNEs in the region. To navigate this complex terrain effectively, Eunice advises MNEs to adopt a proactive approach to transfer pricing, where the policies align with their overall business functions and value chains.

MNEs must understand how each business segment contributes to the creation of value across the entire chain. Monitoring and adjusting strategies in response to evolving business dynamics is also crucial. This requires regular reviews of transfer prices to ensure alignment with regulatory changes and economic circumstances.

Navigating regulatory challenges

A significant challenge when introducing transfer pricing strategies lies in navigating diverse regulatory landscapes and tax obligations across countries of operation. Each jurisdiction may impose different compliance regulations and tax rates. This means it is essential for companies to stay informed and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The high-tax countries typically have more comprehensive and strict transfer pricing regulations, preventing MNCs from manipulating their related party transactions to artificially shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, leading to erosion of taxable income in the higher-tax jurisdictions. These transfer pricing regulations aim to align the pricing of transactions between related parties with what would be expected in an open market between unrelated parties.

In contrast, low-tax countries may have less stringent transfer pricing regulations with the aim to attract foreign investments. These jurisdictions generally offer favourable tax environments to encourage businesses to establish their operations within their borders.

To effectively manage these challenges and ensure compliance, many businesses adopt proactive approaches, such as employing advanced pricing agreements and conducting regular risk assessments. Additionally, developing a robust and consistent transfer pricing policy and methodology is crucial. This helps companies not only manage regulatory challenges successfully, but also maximise profitability by optimising transfer prices according to market conditions and tax implications.

Navigating regulatory challenges

Transfer pricing in Singapore: Case study of company in Asia

Consider the case of a business that operates globally with headquarters in Singapore and operational footprints in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. The organisation’s diverse structure includes a HR Shared Services Centre in Malaysia, a Treasury Service Centre in Hong Kong, manufacturing facilities in China, and a strategic supply chain hub in Singapore. Given its diverse group of companies, this multinational company faces intricate transfer pricing challenges.

The challenge

The main challenge for this company is accurately assessing the economic value of intercompany transactions across its various jurisdictions. Because each subsidiary contributes distinctly to the value chain, it needs to be able to accurately capture the true value creation arising from the related party transactions.

A strategic approach

The multinational company adopted a value-chain approach to transfer pricing, conducting a detailed analysis of functions, assets and risks for each operational function. This approach allowed for the establishment of transfer prices that truly reflect the economic value of goods and services exchanged between the entities, from manufacturing in China to distribution from Singapore.

The key benefits achieved:

Through the value-chain approach, three distinct benefits were achieved for the company:

  1. Strategic decision-making: the company could make strategic decisions regarding resource allocation and business expansion plans based on a more accurate assessment of where economic value is actually being created within the group of companies.
  2. Risk management: by aligning transfer pricing practices with actual economic activities, the company minimised its compliance risks. This tailored approach provided a robust defence in transfer pricing audits, reducing the likelihood of disputes and penalties.
  3. Tax optimisation: profits were allocated according to the value contributed at each stage of operations, ensuring compliance and optimising tax liabilities. This strategic allocation not only adhered to regulatory requirements but also maximised tax efficiency for the company.

The impact:

This case showcases how a tailored transfer pricing strategy can significantly benefit multinational operations. By adopting a comprehensive transfer pricing strategy rooted in the value-chain approach, the company can enhance its operational efficiency, reduce costs and drive top and bottom-line growth in today’s dynamic global business environment.

Expert advice on transfer pricing in Asia

To navigate the complexities of transfer pricing in Asia, Singapore MNEs can turn to specialised tax advisors. By partnering with an expert in the field, MNEs can be confident that they’ll meet their regulatory obligations in the jurisdictions they operate in while optimising their tax positions.

“We act as strategic tax advisors, guiding our clients through the complexities of transfer pricing,” says Eunice. “Our approach involves understanding their entire business processes, operations and legal structure, including IP ownership if applicable.”

As experts on transfer pricing guidelines, BoardRoom works with clients to conduct a thorough review and assessment of every aspect of business operations, spanning procurement, production and distribution. This allows our team to identify key value drivers, cost centres and profit contributors in the business’s value chain. With a deep understanding of these intricacies, we provide personalised guidance.

Once we have a comprehensive understanding of the business, we collaborate with clients to develop a tailored transfer pricing strategy that aligns with their needs and objectives. This strategy includes both the conceptual framework and the necessary documentation, ensuring a robust and compliant approach to transfer pricing management.

Because the BoardRoom team assesses all areas of the business and what’s important for a business’ strategic direction, we offer a level of detail that many other tax advisors don’t.

“Many advisors focus solely on explaining rules and regulations to their clients based on their reading of the guidelines,” says Eunice. “They can articulate the requirements for a transfer pricing strategy and documentation. However, they often lack the practical commercial experience to help their client implement these strategies.

Setting rules is one thing, but the crucial question is how to implement the transfer pricing strategy effectively.”

Implementation is where the real challenge lies, and this requires a deep understanding of business operations, dynamics and practical solutions that align with regulatory compliance and strategic objectives.

Through a client-centric approach, we offer a suite of transfer pricing services:

Value chain analysis
At the core of our transfer pricing services is a comprehensive analysis of our clients’ value chains. We review and assess each stage of their operations, from procurement to production to distribution, to identify value drivers, cost centres and profit contributors. By understanding the intricacies of their value chain, we can assist the clients in optimising their transfer pricing strategies to enhance efficiency, minimise tax risks and maximise profitability.
Ex-ante price setting
One of the key components of our transfer pricing services is assisting clients in setting appropriate transfer prices before transactions occur. Through market analysis, benchmarking studies, and economic modelling, we assist clients in setting the prices for intercompany transactions at arm’s length and complying with relevant regulations.
By establishing clear and defensible pricing policies upfront, we help clients mitigate the risk of transfer pricing adjustments, penalties and disputes with tax authorities.
Ex-post price testing
In addition to proactive ex-ante price setting, our transfer pricing services encompass ex-post price testing to validate the arm’s length nature of intercompany transactions. We employ statistical techniques, such as comparable profits methods and transactional net margin methods, to assess the accuracy and reliability of transfer prices.
We assist clients in conducting regular transfer pricing reviews, giving the clients the assurance that their transfer pricing policies withstand scrutiny and align with best practices, thus minimising the risk of non-compliance and potential financial consequences.
Transfer pricing partner in Singapore

Your transfer pricing partner in Singapore

At BoardRoom, we play an important role in helping businesses understand the intricacies of transfer pricing, its meaning and its importance in their overall strategic activities in Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. Through guidance, meticulous analysis and proactive implementation, we help our MNE clients navigate the complexities of transfer pricing regulations and optimise their tax positions.

Enterprises seeking guidance on everything to do with transfer pricing in Asia, come to us because they want a partner who can capitalise on opportunities and ensure compliance. Please contact us today to discover what our team can do for you.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Eunice

Eunice Hooi

Managing Director Asia, Tax

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

Related Business Insights

Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore’s political stability, strategic location close to booming markets, favourable tax incentives, and a skilled workforce make it an attractive destination for multinational corporations and startups alike.

In this dynamic economic landscape, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) frameworks are critical safeguards, ensuring the seamless operation and integrity of businesses within Singapore’s thriving economy. Beyond regulatory adherence, KYC and AML influence corporate reputation, financial health and operational sustainability. Read on to find out more about the meaning of KYC.

Understanding what KYC is in Singapore’s regulatory landscape

Singapore offers a streamlined process for the formation, registration, merger and acquisition of companies, which has inadvertently led to an increase in money laundering and illegal financing activities.

To address this, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore, alongside the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established a comprehensive set of guidelines and regulations. These include rigorous KYC regulations, which are enforced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Many companies choose to work with a highly skilled company secretary who is knowledgeable about the local regulatory environment when setting up a company to ensure they are compliant.

What is KYC?

In Singapore’s financial sector, KYC practices are paramount, especially in activities such as banking and equity financing, to safeguard the financial interests of businesses, investment firms, and investors.

Regulations-mandated KYC processes include the thorough verification of customer identification before financial services can be offered. These practices help mitigate the risks of money laundering, especially in transactions of high monetary value.

With financial crime becoming more intricate, the MAS regularly updates its KYC regulations, urging companies to stay informed and compliant to avoid penalties and protect their reputation.

Importance of KYC in corporate governance

Non-compliance with KYC poses significant operational and financial risks, including the potential for a company’s operational suspension, license revocation and hefty penalties that can impact a company’s bottom line and investor confidence.

KYC compliance is vital for businesses for a range of reasons, with the most significant including:

  • Risk management: Verifying customer identities and transaction details helps prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Regulatory compliance: Following KYC regulations is mandatory in Singapore and is crucial for preserving a company’s reputation and integrity.
  • Trust and integrity: Strong KYC practices demonstrate a commitment to ethical standards to stakeholders, thereby helping to safeguard a company’s reputation.

Experienced corporate services providers who are well-versed in administrative corporate secretarial work and corporate governance advisory services can ensure that companies meet all the above compliance requirements.

Such advisory services include:

  • Gap analysis of the company’s corporate governance framework
  • Crafting and reviewing policies on interested person transactions
  • Sustainability practices
  • Code of business conduct and ethics
Challenges in maintaining compliance

Challenges in maintaining compliance due to lack of expertise

The regulatory landscape is dynamic, requiring companies to stay informed and adapt their compliance strategies accordingly. Challenges in maintaining compliance with KYC and AML include increasingly sophisticated illegal activities, and the need for specialised knowledge to monitor sudden changes in a client’s business activities and frequent changes in directorship within a short period of time.

Kevin Cho, Director of Corporate Secretarial for BoardRoom, explains more. “Lack of talent knowledge on AML measures can be a challenge, but this can be overcome through regular updates from the professionals, lawyers, and authorities, or through education and training. We can also utilise digital KYC platforms to trace the beneficiary owners hidden behind multiple layers of entities,” says Kevin.

Digital KYC platforms are increasingly gaining traction as businesses recognise the importance of streamlined identity verification processes. These platforms harness cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, biometrics and machine learning to remotely and securely verify customer identities in real time. In this aspect, KYC digital platforms help address talent shortages by optimising existing resources, automating repetitive tasks, enabling remote work, and facilitating faster onboarding and training processes.

As part of AML regulations, companies must actively monitor transactions of large values. However, few companies are equipped with the proper tracking mechanisms or are across on the latest regulatory changes.

Angelin Loh, Senior Manager, Corporate Secretarial at BoardRoom, adds, “Our team keeps up to date with regulatory changes from authorities such as MAS, Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), and the Singapore Police Force (SPF), reviewing guidelines and notices issued by these authorities to ensure compliance, which we then disseminate to our clients.”

Being aware of penalties and laws

The MAS requires financial institutions to comply with specific controls, including customer and beneficial owner identification, regular account reviews and monitoring and reporting suspicious transactions. This impacts not just companies but also directors. Directors are accountable for ensuring that their companies comply with these regulations, and failure to do so could have legal or regulatory repercussions for them as individuals.

Penalties for non-compliance include the following:

  • Directors and individuals involved in money laundering offences can face:
    • fines up to SGD 500,000; and
    • up to 10 years in prison.
  • Financial institutions failing to adhere to AML policies set by the MAS may incur:
    • fines up to SGD 1 million per offence; and
    • for chronic offences, an additional SGD $100,000 per day.
  • Companies not complying with KYC regulations set by ACRA face significant repercussions, including:
    • cancellation of ACRA registration;
    • denial of access to business services; and
    • financial penalties.

KYC checklist for companies

A comprehensive KYC program not only ensures regulatory compliance, there are other advantages of KYC including safeguarding the company’s reputation and financial integrity.

Here is a simplified KYC checklist outlining the essential components companies should incorporate:

Identity verification
  • Verify the identity of clients or customers.
  • Identify and document ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs).
Customer Due Diligence (CDD)
  • Conduct background checks to assess the source of funds and business intentions.
  • Evaluate risk profiles based on business activities and geographic locations.
Risk assessment and ongoing monitoring
  • Apply a risk-based approach for continuous monitoring.
  • Schedule due diligence reviews based on risk level (annually for high-risk, biennially for others).
Regulatory compliance updates
  • Keep abreast of and comply with the latest AML/KYC regulations.
  • Update compliance programs and staff training as regulations evolve.

A robust KYC framework can help companies navigate the complexities of financial regulations, upholding their reputation and ensuring the stability of their financial transactions.

“This systematic approach ensures companies are not just compliant but actively managing potential risks,” says Kevin.

Relationship between KYC and AML

The relationship between KYC and AML

KYC represents one aspect of AML – a set of measures and procedures aimed at preventing financial crimes implemented by financial institutions and other regulated entities.

These measures include:

  • analysing customer transactions;
  • keeping records; and
  • reporting suspicions of money laundering to the relevant regulatory authorities.

“Because of the AML framework, that’s why we have KYC,” Angelin Loh explains. “Having effective KYC and AML practices helps companies to identify risks on the onset and try to mitigate risks associated with money laundering, terrorist financing and financial crimes.”

The critical role of AML governance in corporate compliance

Incorporating AML practices into corporate governance frameworks demonstrates a company’s commitment to ethical business practices and risk management. It signals to regulators, partners, investors and the public that the company adheres to the highest standards of legal compliance.

Adhering to an AML governance framework strengthens stakeholder trust, enhances corporate reputation and ensures long-term sustainability and success in the global marketplace.

The implications of non-compliance

Non-compliance with AML regulations presents substantial risks, including reputational harm that can diminish trust among customers, investors and broader stakeholders.

The monetary penalties are also severe. Any financial institution that does not adhere to the relevant AML regulations may face fines of up to SGD 1 million per offence and additional fines of SGD 100,000 for each day that the offence continues.

Recent cases of AML breaches in Singapore highlight the serious consequences of AML non-compliance:

Major anti-money laundering operation
In a sweeping action by the Singapore Police Force, 10 foreign nationals were arrested in August 2023 for suspected involvement in money laundering. The operation, one of Singapore’s largest, involved raids on high-value properties and the freezing of substantial financial assets.

Penalty
Arrests and seizure of assets worth around SGD 3 billion.
Financial institutions penalised
The MAS penalised 17 financial institutions over five years for breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws, with penalties including fines and the revocation of licenses. This action was part of the fallout from the Wirecard scandal.

Penalty
Fines totalling SGD 3.8 million and license revocation for one institution.

For businesses, the message is clear: stringent AML procedures are non-negotiable.

Protect business assets

Protect your business assets

Robust KYC and AML processes are central to comprehensive corporate governance, protecting businesses from legal, reputational and financial risks.

The complexity of corporate obligations necessitates the support of a trusted corporate secretarial service. A competent company secretary in Singapore ensures your business remains compliant with changing regulations, safeguarding your company’s integrity.

With more than 50 years of experience, BoardRoom offers comprehensive corporate secretarial and governance advisory services across Singapore and the Asia-Pacific. Our team, equipped with local, regional and global expertise, can help your company navigate compliance complexities, boosting stakeholder confidence and securing long-term success.

Our services include:

  • An independent assessment of your KYC obligations to ensure that your incorporated company adheres to KYC procedures and AML checks.
  • Maintenance of proper statutory registers, such as the registrable controller, to ensure transparency and compliance within your company’s corporate governance framework.
  • Gap analysis of your company’s corporate governance framework.
  • Annual evaluation of board activities and individual directors.

Get in touch with us today to enhance your corporate governance standards.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Kevin Cho

Kevin Cho

Director of Corporate Secretarial

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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