SG AGM Trends Report (2022 Edition)

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SG AGM Trends Report (2022 Edition)

Emerging trends which will shape the future of general meetings in Singapore

Regulations, the adoption of technology-driven solutions and shareholders’ behaviours have changed during the pandemic. Will these changes be permanent, or will companies return to their old ways?

To understand how these will impact general meetings moving forward, download and read our analysis of data gathered from 2019 to 2022.

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Download Singapore’s Trends Report (2022 Edition)

Related Business Insights

Is a 4-day work week feasible today?

Is a 4-day work week feasible today

Is a 4-day work week feasible today?

The latest buzzword in the corporate world is the 4-Day work week. According to a survey conducted by Indeed, 88% of Singaporean employees supported the push of a 4-day work week with the same salary.

The 4-day work week has been touted as a solution to improve work-life balance without sacrificing productivity, but does it work for all organisations?

Click the video below to listen as our Chief People Officer, Stephen, shares his views on the 4-Day work week.

Click to play video

The key questions Stephen answers are:

  • Does a 4-day work week work for all industries?
  • What are the potential challenges for organisations wanting to implement a 4-day work week?
  • Which 3 key areas should organisations look into when implementing a 4-day work week?

About Stephen

Stephen has three-decades of human capital experience in the professional services industry. Previously a Partner and HR leader from Big Four firm KPMG, Stephen is a passionate leader who believes in the optimisation of human potential, and promotion of empathy and humility as a central theme in managing the organisation’s most prized assets. He possesses consulting, strategic and operational experience in the talent agenda. His forte lies in the development and delivery of people and transformational solutions, with a specific emphasis on the recruitment, development, management and retention of talent.

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5 ways to build trust in your organisation

5 ways to build trust in your organisation

5 ways to build trust in your organisation

Building trust in your organisation

How do we keep our employees from joining the Great Resignation? Studies have shown that trust is key to attracting and retaining talent, key to building a sustainable business.

Why is trust so important?

A 2015 study by Interaction Associates showed that high-trust companies “are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organisations” than low-trust companies.

How does trust drive economic value?

Trust helps attract and retain talent, which is key to driving economic value in an organisation and ensuring its sustainability in the long term.

In a study done by Paul J. Zak, neuro-economist and author of “Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies”, it was found that compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:

Payroll outbound 2B Trust eDM graphic

Results of leaders who build trust

Organisations with a high level of trust have: 

01

Engaged & collaborative employees

02

Low voluntary turnover rate*

03

Employees who are more productive employees

*According to research from The Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune, companies that rank in the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For have a voluntary turnover rate that’s half the rate of their industry peers.

These factors are imperative to building a successful business, especially in an economic downturn and talks of a recession. How then can leaders build trust effectively?

2B Trust Infographic

Besides building trust with employees, organisations also have to understand other stakeholders’ values to succeed in the long term. Click here to read about how to earn trust with a values-led approach to business operations.

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Benefits of adopting an equitable remuneration policy

Benefits of adopting an equitable remuneration policy

Benefits of adopting an equitable remuneration policy

Addressing pay equity in one’s organisation is a process that starts with what fair pay means to your organisation, where you’re falling short, and what you have to do to address those issues. Even after the implementation of an equitable remuneration program, how then do you ensure that your organisation’s remuneration program stays competitive and relevant?

With more than thirty years of HR experience, Stephen Tjoa, BoardRoom’s Chief People Officer, shares with us his perspective on an equitable remuneration policy in this video.

In this video, Stephen answers:

  • What is the essence of an equitable remuneration package?
  • What are 3 key benefits for organisations to adopt an equitable remuneration policy?
  • What can organisations do to maximise the benefits of their equitable remuneration policy?

Click to play video

About Stephen

Stephen has three-decades of human capital experience in the professional services industry. Previously a Partner and HR leader from Big Four firm KPMG, Stephen is a passionate leader who believes in the optimisation of human potential, and promotion of empathy and humility as a central theme in managing the organisation’s most prized assets. He possesses consulting, strategic and operational experience in the talent agenda. His forte lies in the development and delivery of people and transformational solutions, with a specific emphasis on the recruitment, development, management and retention of talent.

Related Business Insights

How to successfully manage a multigenerational workforce

How to successfully manage a multigenerational workforce

How to successfully manage a multigenerational workforce

Age-diverse teams have become commonplace in the corporate sphere, meaning organisations now have a variety of ideas, skills and perspectives at their disposal.

But leading a multigenerational workforce is not an easy task. Find out how your human resource (HR) teams can support management staff to create an inclusive workplace that benefits all.

The five working generations

Leaders of age-diverse teams need to understand the defining characteristics of each generation — the values, motivations and working styles they typically possess. While not all workers are the same, some key elements are common amongst generations.

Traditionalists

Known for their dedication and commitment to their jobs, most traditionalists worked in post-war labour-intensive roles and have now reached retirement age.

Before 1945

Baby Boomers

Members of this generation typically hold high-ranking positions because they have been in the workforce for longer. They are loyal and collaborative, and favour real-time verbal communication. As they approach retirement, they are keen to share their wisdom and traditional worth ethics with younger employees.

1946–1964

Generation X

This generation values achievement, respect in the workplace and flexibility. They prefer working in the office, communicating by phone and email, but also enjoy the benefits of work-life balance. They often have an established career and welcome opportunities to mentor staff.

1965–1976

Millennials

These independent workers are beginning to enter managerial positions and are ascending the corporate ladder. Considered the driving force of today’s workplace, this generation is motivated by purpose and a desire to learn. They value interaction and feedback, and prefer digital communication over phone calls.

1977–1995

Generation Z

New to the workforce, this generation takes social responsibility seriously and wants to make a real impact through their work. They prefer communicating via video conferencing for the personal experience it provides.

After 1995

Remember, while the above traits are common among the respective cohorts, individual preferences will vary. To ensure you’re leading a multigenerational workforce to success, you’ll also need to factor in the individual needs of your team and your workplace environment.

Key benefits of a multigenerational workforce

Multigenerational

BoardRoom’s Chief People Officer, Stephen Tjoa, says multigenerational workforces present rich opportunities for coaching and mentoring.

“There’s a general perception that the younger generation is proficient with new technologies, while mature workers have a wealth of institutional knowledge about traditional approaches to decision-making,” he says. “By mixing different age groups in the workplace, organisations ultimately benefit from a wide range of expertise and experience.”

A multigenerational workforce can also create a culture of innovation and progress.

“This is especially true when employees feel they can share their ideas freely and participate actively to pursue business transformation through collaboration,” says Stephen.

Key communication challenges of a multigenerational workforce

According to a 2018 Randstad study, almost half of Singapore employees and job seekers found it hard to communicate with colleagues from different age groups.

“This is largely attributed to differences in preferred communication styles,” Stephen says. “While more mature generations are used to speaking face-to-face or picking up the phone, younger generations are inclined to use texts and the plethora of social media channels and apps to communicate with others.”

If left unaddressed, the digital divide between younger workers and Traditionalists can disrupt the sharing of information and lead to misunderstandings.

Strategies for fostering a positive environment

HR teams can help nurture an environment of respect and collaboration by:

Creating opportunities for intergenerational learning

Team exercises that align people to a common purpose can help break down stereotypes and promote understanding. One option is to hold group discussions on topics that affect all parties. (You might ask them to brainstorm solutions to the common challenge of achieving work-life balance.)

Facilitating mentoring

Take inventory of the competencies and expertise available in your team. Cross-training employees through mentoring and reverse-mentoring will help elevate the contributions of staff members at all levels.

Encouraging open communication

Opening the dialogue between generations can help foster a greater understanding and higher level of respect amongst employees of all age groups. It is important for all ages to share thoughts and opinions together, creating a positive and collaborative work environment.

How leaders can manage expectations

Leaders can help address multigenerational workforce challenges by:

  • articulating the organisation’s employee value proposition (EVP)
  • eliminating employment bias by implementing solutions that remove unconscious bias; a simple fix like removing names from CVs can have a large impact
  • having a core philosophy of rewarding employees based on performance, not personal attributes, through a robust Key Performance Indicator (KPI) model
  • providing flexibility to suit changing work preferences
  • nurturing an inclusive culture
Multigenerational

How HR can support collaboration

Some leaders may find it difficult to manage the younger generations, but with Millennials set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, it’s a critical endeavour. HR teams can help leaders navigate this challenge by highlighting the importance of:

Demonstrating a values-led approach to business operations
Offering flexibility (ie. work anytime, anywhere)
Prioritising harmonious work-life integration
Communicating openly, requesting feedback regularly and communicating the ‘whys’ behind decisions made
Embracing technology in all operations
Recognising and rewarding staff beyond compensation
Investing in employees’ potential

How to implement your solutions successfully

Stephen says the key success factors of leading a multigenerational workforce are planning and prioritisation.

“First and foremost, it is important to establish baseline expectations by conducting a culture and climate survey,” he says. “This will help gauge employees’ current engagement with the organisation and their future expectations and aspirations.”

The survey would need to gather feedback on the following:

Employment terms
Compensation
Benefits and bonuses
Work-life balance
Training
Policies and programs
Performance and development
Career aspirations
Trust levels
Interactions with managers, colleagues and direct reports

“The objective here is to establish a strong feedback culture and demonstrate your commitment to listening to the employee voice,” Stephen says. “There must also be a commitment to sharing feedback with staff and explaining what management intends to do with it — and by when.”

This exercise will build trust, leading to greater participation, accountability and commitment among employees.

Embracing diversity is the way forward

When generational differences are embraced and all employees feel safe, recognised and valued, organisations benefit from a united workforce that’s engaged, productive and motivated to achieve.

Related Business Insights

Flexible working: a new business imperative in the war for talent

FlexibleWorkingBannerFinal

Flexible working: a new business imperative in the war for talent

Flexible working is no longer a unique perk offered by trendy startups and technology giants. It is now a business imperative for any organisation and encompasses much more than just a remote work lifestyle. Companies that ignore people’s wishes for flexible working arrangements, including flexible leave and benefits, are missing out on retaining and engaging their current employees, boosting their employer brand and, ultimately, attracting top talent.

Flexible working environments are a chief concern across the Asia-Pacific region. A recent study by the Institute of Public Studies (IPS) found that 1 in 2 Singapore workers believe flexible work arrangements should be the new norm. But flexible work is now defined beyond a hybrid office environment. Employees are seeking flexibility to maintain better work-life balance, requesting flexible leave policies, benefits and work hours.

Failing to implement flexible working arrangements may result in your top talent walking out the door. And replacing those people is becoming increasingly difficult. Over half of Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) reported the shortage of critical talent as the No.1 trend impacting organisations. HR experts warn that businesses that don’t offer flexible work options could be losing out on up to 70% of job seekers.

Changing your policies overnight to accommodate flexible work however, isn’t easy. We’ve put together our top tips to help you identify how flexible benefits might work in your organisation and how to create a positive work-life balance for your employees.

What does flexible working mean?

Most organisations acknowledge the importance of work-life balance and have been practising flexible work arrangements for some time. Things like part-time hours, job sharing and time in lieu all constitute flexible working.

Post-pandemic, a common example of flexible working in Singapore is a split or hybrid work week. This is when people spend two days in the office and three days at home (or some such combination).

But flexible working can also be presented in other ways, and your employees are searching for solutions to help improve their work life balance.

Other flexible benefits may include:

Flex working time

Allowing employees to stagger start and finish times to suit their schedules. This gives staff an opportunity to work at a time that best suits their lifestyle, providing it doesn’t impact productivity. If you decide to offer flex time, it’s best to allocate a few hours each day where all employees should be online simultaneously.

Medical leave without certification

This can be a fairly simple change with a significant effect. Not asking for medical certification when employees are sick helps build trust and shows flexibility from the employer.

Condensed schedules

This could be anything from a four-day work week to a nine-day fortnight. Allowing staff to work fewer hours can promote greater productivity. It gives your employees a chance to improve their work-life balance and also helps the business financially.

Unlimited leave

Offering employees unlimited leave is a new trend with technology giants Netflix, Adobe and Hubspot. They offer unlimited paid time off (within certain parameters) to align with their strong employee-focused policies. While this is not sustainable for most companies, you may like to adopt a flexible leave approach that works for your business.

Birthday leave

Everyone loves a day off for their birthday, so why not offer it as an extra paid day off for all employees? This small cost to the business could be the deciding factor in recruiting and retaining skilled employees. It sends a clear message that the company supports and actively promotes your health and wellbeing.

Flexcations

Giving your staff the opportunity to combine work with personal travel allows them to maximise their vacation time without it impacting work schedules. An example of this could be an employee traveling to their holiday destination on a Thursday night, working remotely on Friday and then starting their holiday at 5pm that day. In doing so, the employee can maximise their time away without any impact to their productivity.

Temporary changes in schedules

Allowing employees to make temporary changes to their office hours, reducing to part-time for a short period or taking on more hours when needed, gives them the flexibility to work around personal or family commitments while still staying loyal to the organisation.

Lifestyle or recreation leave

Granting employees leave to pursue interests or activities that are important to their wellbeing. This might include sporting activities, volunteering opportunities or health and wellness activities.

Build a flexible working/benefits policy that works for your organisation

Understanding the many different ways to apply flexible opportunities will help you foster a strong sense of company loyalty and respect. Empowering your leaders to deliver these flexible benefits builds rapport and strengthens connections amongst teams.

With greater flexibility comes greater loyalty

Despite an overwhelming push from workers to offer more flexibility, some organisations are still resisting. A study by Ernst & Young revealed that 35% of employers want all of their employees to return to the office full-time post-pandemic.

Fears around lack of oversight, impact on collaboration efforts and challenges in making flexibility equal for everyone make it difficult for some to embrace flexibility in the workplace. But starting small is better than no start at all. Take a look at what simple changes you can implement and let your employees guide you in building a flexible workplace model that works for them.

Improving employee wellbeing and building trust

Beyond the benefits of increased retention, job satisfaction and worker engagement, perhaps the biggest payoff for organisations offering flexibility is building trust.

Trusting your staff to work when they say they will is one of the most empowering things you can do for your people. Without the constant supervision of their bosses, people feel more in control, more autonomous and empowered.

In offering flexible leave and benefits, employers can not only show their loyalty and appreciation to current employees, but also appeal to new candidates, widening your recruitment pool.

Where to start with introducing flexibility

Before you research all the ways you can offer flexibility, it’s important to step back and consider the basics.

Understand what flexibility means for your people

Just as your organisational and employee values need to be fundamentally aligned, so do your flexible working arrangements. Without understanding what flexibility means for your people and how they want to shape it, you may be creating ‘benefits’ that people aren’t interested in taking up. Or, worse still, you may create the illusion of bias by offering flexibility to some but not others.

You can use engagement and pulse surveys to uncover the key issues around flexibility for your people. What are they struggling with? What would make the biggest difference to them right now? And how do they view flexibility at work in their own roles?

It’s also important to consider generational differences, particularly if your organisation is demographically diverse. Given that most companies now have as many as five generations of workers, it’s likely that everyone’s ideas around flexibility and what is beneficial for them are going to differ. Flexibility to someone in their 20s is unlikely to mean the same thing as it does for someone in their 60s.

One way organisations are tackling this issue is with flexible benefits. Here’s a quick rundown of how flexible benefits work.

    The organisation provides a set of benefits outside people’s regular wages (for example, health insurance, extra leave, on-site daycare).
    The organisation determines the total monetary amount of benefits that can be taken.
    Employees can then pick and choose a combination of the benefits that are most valuable to them.

    Offering these types of flexible benefits can be a good way to ensure people are getting value from the benefits you’re offering.

    It’s important to note that in Singapore, organisations that want to offer flexible benefits must ensure they are correctly reflecting the value of the benefits in Central Provident Fund (CPF) payments. It may be worth getting the help of a trusted HR and payroll advisor with knowledge of the local regulations, as the rules are complex and can be confusing.

    Assess your organisation’s readiness

    Review the purpose, mission and realities of your business. How much flexibility can you put into your essential services and what kind of flexibility makes sense for your organisation?

    What will the initial impact be on your employees and how will you manage this impact? Having the answers to these questions will allow for a smoother transition and greater acceptance of flexible leave and benefits.

    Some flexible benefits and leave policies might happen overnight, while others will take time. Building the right framework and gauging employee perspective and support is crucial.

    It’s important to examine your current systems and ensure any new initiatives can be integrated. There may also be knock-on effects of introducing new flexible ways of working, for example, the implications of withholding tax in certain jurisdictions. It can be wise to get expert advice from a trusted corporate services provider.

    Look at business contingencies and practical implementation methods

    Having a robust strategy and contingency plan for any flexible work arrangement is essential. It’s important to mitigate any risk to both employees and the company when any new framework is implemented.

    Work with your leaders to ensure work can continue seamlessly. What processes do you need to put in place to minimise disruption?

    Consider hiring an external expert who can advise on implementing flexible policies. They can help review the complexities with the leadership team and ensure executive alignment to advise on possible solutions.

    As always, consistent communication about the purpose and practicalities of flexible work is key. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is the last hurdle, which is often communicating why you’re doing what you’re doing. Although with flexible working, and the many benefits it offers, this shouldn’t be too difficult, provided you’ve taken the time to really understand what flexibility means to your employees.

    FlexibleWorking3

    Small steps to a more flexible workplace

    Flexible working isn’t just a pandemic-related side effect — it will fundamentally shape how we work in the future. And in many ways, it already has. Singaporean organisations that take notice of it and implement flexible working arrangements now will benefit from better retention rates, more engaged and productive employees, and a stronger employer brand.

    But don’t be tempted to implement a blanket policy or copy a model from another organisation.

    It’s important to create the right type of flexibility for your organisation. Find out what flexibility means to your people, consider your business needs and find a solution that works for your company.

    Remember, you can start small when introducing flexibility into your workplace.

    It doesn’t have to be a bold shift. You can introduce flexibility in incremental phases or start with small initiatives. These initiatives might include closing the office at 4pm on a Friday or giving someone the day off on their birthday. Sometimes the small gestures can have the biggest impact on your people.

    What does flexible working look like in your organisation now and where would you like to be?

    Related Business Insights

    Now is the time for business transformation in APAC

    Business Transformation

    Now is the time for business transformation in APAC

    In the wake of COVID-19, companies around the world are scrambling to adapt to rapidly changing corporate landscapes. Traditional working models are no longer effective, forcing business leaders to make quick decisions amid widespread uncertainty.

    But with major disruption comes major opportunities for business transformation and expansion.

    This is especially true in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The perfect storm of aligned attitudes, economic promise, consumer engagement and technological advancement culminates in huge potential for businesses of all sizes to not only recover but flourish.

    A bright future lies ahead

    Despite the ground-shaking impact of COVID-19, APAC’s corporate sector remains dynamic. The region’s enormous internal markets, plentiful resources and wide consumer reach have provided fertile ground for a multitude of homegrown innovators and disruptors to thrive. To name just a few, think WeChat, Grab, Alibaba and Tencent.

    APAC businesses have long been hungry for progress, and this collective fervour likely bolstered the region’s resilience through the pandemic. Asian GDP remained relatively stable when compared with other major economies, contracting by just 1.5%, while Europe and the United States experienced falls of 6.1% and 8.9%, respectively. Local businesses continued to scale up during this time, encouraging forward momentum that will be vital for recovery in the years to come.

    Bright future

    Optimism across the region

    The remarkable drive of APAC business owners may be due to their enduring optimism. Corporate Asia is known for its desire to work hard, achieve higher and seize opportunity.

    Despite post-pandemic uncertainty, a 2021 Sun Life survey of 2,400 SME business owners found that:

    • 74% expected their organisation’s financial position would improve in the next year
    • 70% expected the national economic situation to improve in the next year.

    This positive outlook may be why 84% of respondents planned to expand their business in 2022.

    Opportunities abound

    Opportunities Abroad

    Local governments in APAC tend to share the progressive attitudes of their commercial counterparts, especially when it comes to digital innovation and economic recovery.

    Supportive initiatives like Singapore’s Smart Nation continue to be introduced across the region, creating valuable opportunities to collaborate with local partners.

    The positive outlook for Asia’s economic growth is further buoyed by a growing consumer class: MGI research indicates that 70% of Asia’s total population is expected to be part of the consuming class by 2030 — up 15% since 2000.

    APAC is also uniquely positioned to leverage the digital boom that is revolutionising the business-to-consumer landscape. During the pandemic, 60 million people became online consumers in South-East Asia alone.

    How businesses can realise their full potential

    Companies doing business in Asia have a rare opportunity to use the region’s post-pandemic optimism as a catalyst for expansion. According to McKinsey and Company, a prosperous new era for Asia is within reach if companies engage in a collective effort to grow and break new ground.

    The recent Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between ASEAN, China, India, Australia, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand will support widespread business development in a number of ways. Importantly, it will strengthen regional economic collaboration by making regional trade and investment safer, easier and more efficient.

    To take advantage of new opportunities for intraregional expansion and connectivity, Asia-Pacific enterprises need to be proactive about adapting their operational and commercial strategies accordingly.

    The power of digitisation

    Asia has the most significant number of mobile phone users globally — a fact not gone unnoticed by the region’s corporate sector. Local companies are embracing tech faster than anywhere else globally, with the pandemic serving to accelerate this process.

    For example, sales of industrial robots in China rose by almost 20% in 2020.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Asia is the fastest-growing region in international e-commerce, meaning digitisation is a must for most businesses wanting to get ahead.

    Strength in partnership

    Tech adoption not only opens up business-to-consumer opportunities but also supports business-to-business relationships, which will be vital for APAC’s economic recovery. Initiatives like Go Digital ASEAN are already supporting more cross-country collaboration and market access throughout the region.

    A digitised landscape promotes fluid borders, making it easier for businesses to join intraregional trade networks and thereby increasing Asia’s share of global trade. And as more businesses expand, Asian economies will benefit from each other’s strengths.

    With Asian companies historically favouring alliances, businesses that successfully branch into neighbouring countries now can expect a significant return on investment.

    Climate adaptation and sustainability

    The climate emergency brings many risks for businesses, while climate adaptation provides opportunities. Business leaders will need to account for both if they are to secure growth and resilience for their organisation in the long term.

    Five countries in Asia have proposed or passed legislation mandating net-zero emissions, which businesses will need to cater to in their operations and strategies.

    Opportunities for climate innovation are more abundant than ever. With the costs of solar and land-based wind energy in China and India among the lowest in the world, both regions are positioned to dominate global growth in solar and wind.

    Climate Change

    Focus areas for leaders looking to expand

    In many ways, the proliferation of APAC’s economy now rests on the shoulders of its business leaders. To keep up with the region’s comparatively rapid pace of change, leaders must be bold and agile in their approach to business performance improvement.

    Leaders’ focus areas need to shift. There needs to be greater attention given to corporate governance — which lags behind Western standards — working models and resource allocation, as well as digital innovation and consumer trends.

    1. Business operation enhancement

    Throughout APAC, working environments are changing. Many businesses are implementing hybrid models, with the upshot being greater employee satisfaction and access to broader talent pools. Leaders are also taking action to speed up decision-making and productivity by removing silos and increasing employee autonomy.

    If your work environment reflects a traditional model, you may need to identify modernisation opportunities as part of your expansion plans.

    With the continued localisation of supply chains and increase in domestic trade, businesses will also likely benefit from following APAC’s regionalisation trend. Intraregional partnerships often impart valuable consumer insights, especially if the companies in question collect vast pools of data via their service provision. For example, grocery chain Freshippo allows Chinese enterprises, new and established, to share data in omni-channel supermarkets.

    Strengthening your operations with corporate partnerships will give your growing organisation extra support and resources to thrive.

    2. Product and process innovation

    Asia is home to more than half of the global population, with billions of people engaging with brands online. This means innovative, well-executed digital marketing strategies are likely to exceed expectations.

    According to Sun Life, over 90% of business owners changed their business strategy in response to the pandemic, with new methods of distribution and virtualisation introduced. Research also found businesses that invested in innovative strategies experienced positive changes in performance.

    So, where should businesses put their best creative thinkers to work? With the digital generation expected to make up half of Asia’s consumption by 2030, technological innovation in products and processes should help fast-track businesses’ marketing success.

    Increased spending is expected for:

    Social media
    Food delivery
    Solo travel and dining
    Smaller packaged foods
    Pets and robot companions

    The opportunities for digital product and service innovation are virtually limitless. For example, DBS Bank experienced an incredible 400% increase in their customers’ use of digital tools.

    Whether your business sells products or services, investment in digitisation improvements and opportunities may boost your revenue to a significant degree.

    3. Go-to-market excellence

    To achieve go-to-market success in APAC today, businesses need to intimately know their consumers — and themselves.

    Asia’s new consumers are early adopters of new technology, so it is a good time to take risks with technological innovation. Consider how Grab and Didi quickly acquired ride-hailing giant Uber in South-East Asia and China respectively: despite direct competition from Uber from the outset, both of these start-ups found better ways to meet the needs of local rideshare users through tech.

    Businesses will be wise to use the data they generate from sales to better service their target audiences. In contrast to Western attitudes, Asian customers are generally content to share their data with companies.

    When it comes time to expand, maintaining consistency of brand identity and reputation becomes harder but also more vital. A 2017 Stewardship Asia Centre study showed that 80% of successful and long-standing family businesses had a clearly defined purpose.

    Essentially, businesses need to reaffirm their core purpose and make sure it is communicated effectively to their internal teams and their audiences.

    Grow successfully with a corporate services provider

    There is no doubt that expansion will provide many rewards for businesses that act now, but it is important to do it right. Each APAC country comes with its own cultural nuances and regulatory system, so business functions, strategies and go-to-market plans need to be customised to suit.

    For example, payments platform Stripe has developed tailored products for each region in which it operates, with e-wallets and bank-based systems rolled out in Singapore and Malaysia respectively.

    But regional differences should not cause businesses to hesitate, for the perfect solution may lie in engaging the services of a corporate services provider.

    Innovative full-service providers like BoardRoom are able to handle a wide range of essential corporate functions. They manage everything from payroll to company secretarial while providing clients with one point of contact for fast and easy communication. With comprehensive local knowledge and commercial experience, they can advise companies on the best way to cater to customer preferences in each region.

    It is important to choose a global firm that can grow with you, empower your team to make smart decisions and help you form critical partnerships locally.

    Now is the time to act

    To achieve success in post-pandemic APAC, businesses must traverse untrodden ground. Traditional strategies need to be rethought, and creativity must be employed to leverage fresh opportunities.

    But as businesses collectively expand beyond borders and company incorporation rates rise, contributions to workforces, suppliers and households will increase, supporting a healthy economy as a result.

    BoardRoom provides world-class service at a local level to help your business grow and prosper throughout APAC.

    Contact us for a one-on-one discussion about your individual expansion plans and business goals.

    Related Business Insights

    How to earn trust with a values-led approach to business operations

    Business Operations

    How to earn trust with a values-led approach to business operations

    Asia-Pacific organisations are taking a values-led approach to business operations in 2022, winning trust from customers, employees and business partners and gaining a clear competitive advantage.

    Trust is a modern imperative for business success, but it’s notoriously hard to build, especially in times of uncertainty. In 2022, businesses worldwide entered a new era of unpredictability as they entered the third year of a global pandemic. During this time, they also had to navigate major economic changes, geopolitical instability and climate emergencies.

    Amid this confluence of crises, trust matters more than ever.

    People are looking to do business with companies they trust and whose purpose aligns with their own beliefs. An Accenture study found that 62% of consumers are looking for organisations to take a stand on issues such as sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices. The closer those values align to their own, the better.

    Having a clear set of values and demonstrating those values in your day-to-day business operations can create a powerful competitive advantage for your business. Those who focus on strong values enjoy more engaged employees, stronger business partnerships and loyal customers.

    Leading with values will lead to sales

    Corporate values can seem like a vague or un-quantifiable concept, but they can be more powerful (and more measurable) than you may realise.

    Research shows organisations that take a values-led approach to business operations gain a clear competitive advantage. According to Forrester, 23% of online adults in Singapore have tried a new brand because they believe in the values the brand stands for.

    The reverse is true too. A recent study from Adobe found that 66% of APAC consumers refuse to purchase from brands that violate their trust. Trust, once broken, rarely leads to repeat customers.

    What are core values?

    Having a core set of corporate values can help clarify where you stand as an organisation and attract the kind of customers, employees and business partners you want to work with.

    Each organisation will have a different definition of corporate values, but, broadly speaking, they are deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions; they set the tone for the organisation and shape its culture, operations and activities.

    Core values can also be described as a company’s purpose, something that McKinsey & Company described as being “key to resilience and success in the post-pandemic future”.

    In a study of 200 successful organisations in Asia-Pacific, 80% had a clearly articulated company purpose and felt this was crucial to the development of their business.

    Whether you call it corporate values, core principles or your company’s purpose, the most important thing is to go beyond the words.

    Core Values

    Take action on your values to drive trust

    It’s not enough to simply state your corporate values on your website or display them in your staff kitchen. People will quickly see through this as a corporate PR move.

    You must give your core values meaning by embedding them into your day-to-day business operations.

    For organisations with small set-up and simple business operations, aligning your values to build trust with customers can be a simple endeavour. However, for organisations with large operations, complex hierarchies or offices across different countries within Asia-Pacific, it’s a lot more difficult.

    Here are some examples of best practices in business trust-building.

    Understand your stakeholders' values

    Although the pandemic has had a profound impact, it’s also given us the chance to step back and gain a deeper understanding of what our stakeholders value.

    • What do your customers value? Do they care about social justice, environmental causes, data protection or something else entirely? What type of brands do they want to support?
    • What kind of company do your employees want to work for? What does working for your company say about them and their professional brand?
    • What kind of company do your business partners want to align with? Will your values create a positive or negative reflection on their brand?

    Assess your trustworthiness

    Once you have a clear idea of what values your customers, employees and business partners are looking to align with, look inside your own organisation to assess how well your people engender trust.

    A 2020 Deloitte survey pinpointed four critical contributors to trust.

    • Humanity: Does your organisation genuinely care for the experiences and wellbeing of others?
    • Transparency: Does your organisation openly share information, motives and choices in plain language?
    • Capability: Does your organisation possess the means to meet expectations?
    • Reliability: Does your organisation consistently and dependably deliver upon promises made?

    To gauge your trustworthiness, Deloitte recommends asking your customers, employees and business partners directly how well your organisation meets expectations in each of these areas.

    Examples of best practices in business - two colleagues shaking hands

    Coordinate trust efforts across functions

    Alignment between different business functions is key to building trust within your organisation. When working on trust-building efforts, you’ll need efficient coordination between business units such as product development, HR, marketing and IT.

    As with any company-wide endeavour, gaining support from the executive team is crucial to the success of projects like this. Involving them early and often can help bolster the success of your trust-building efforts.

    Building trust across borders

    Understanding how trust is defined and built is key to gaining a competitive advantage. The problem is that not everyone defines trust in the same way.

    For example, while North American and European cultures tend to correlate openness with trust, leaders in Asia-Pacific put more weight on reputation and competency when assessing trustworthiness.

    Businesses looking to set up in the Asia-Pacific region need to understand these cultural subtleties. It’s an important first step in creating strong bonds with customers, employees and business partners.

    Partnering with a corporate advisory firm that understands these regional subtleties is a smart move, especially if you don’t have people within your organisation who can help you navigate these complexities.

    BoardRoom has an extensive network of professionals with the right expertise to help you understand the market. It simplifies business across the Asia-Pacific region and, most importantly, helps you comply with local laws and stay in tune with your company values. You can find us in:

    • Singapore
    • Australia
    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • Malaysia.
    Map of air routes in Asia

    Is it time to redefine your corporate values?

    Forrester believes that trusted organisations will be the ones that succeed in the 2020s. They’re confident that trusted organisations will build unbreakable bonds with customers, attract the most dedicated talent and create hard-to-copy engagement models with partners and emerging technologies. And that this concept is something people will actually embrace instead of fear.

    However, this sort of task takes a lot of introspection and requires input and coordination from many business functions. Implementing any change or business transformation requires an in-depth understanding of how your team operates, and what support you need to provide to ensure proficiency and adaptability throughout the process.

    It could be one of the most important things you do this year, but it’s not important enough to let your business operations fall by the wayside.

    Let BoardRoom take care of your day-to-day corporate services so you can focus on building long-term strategies to build trust. Whether it’s outsourcing your payroll or having a trustworthy partner to take care of your tax, we can help.

    Take a look at our comprehensive suite of services online:

    Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your organisation.

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    Clearing the Complexities of SPAC in Singapore

    Photo of an office with four monitors set up on a desk, with a keyboard and telephone. The monitors have screen shots of processing data on a blue background

    Clearing the Complexities of SPAC in Singapore

    Transitioning to a public company is an important milestone for a business. Access to capital can open opportunities for growth, reduce debt and improve your public profile. But not every company is well-suited to an initial public offering (IPO), and the process can be long and complicated. Many companies in Singapore are considering mergers with special purpose acquisition companies (also known as SPACs) as an alternative to a traditional IPO.

    What is a SPAC?

    If you are familiar with capital markets, you have probably heard these terms before. Still, you may be wondering what SPAC means.

    Here is a simple definition:

    A SPAC is a publicly-traded corporation formed with the objective of acquiring a privately held business to enable it to go public. Because SPACs typically have no existing business operations or stated targets for acquisition, they are also known as “blank cheque companies”.

    SPACs are normally formed by investors or sponsors with expertise in a particular industry or business sector, with the intention of pursuing deals in that area. Investors in SPACs can range from well-known private equity funds to the general public.

    Mixed photo and illustration image of Singapore stock exchange market trading graph with the Singapore flag industrial area.

    The capital raised through the SPAC process is placed in an interest-bearing trust account. Then, the SPAC founders have a limited time (typically 18 to 24 months) to acquire a suitable company.

    The funds in the trust can only be dispersed for one of two reasons:

    1. to complete an acquisition of a company;
    2. to return the money to investors if they don’t complete an acquisition in the set timeframe.

    After the SPAC successfully acquires the private company target (through a process known as “de-SPAC”), the target company then assumes the public listing on the exchange.

    The rise of SPACs in Singapore

    SPACs have been around since the 1990s and have increased in popularity since 2013. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that they really started to gain traction, attracting big-name underwriters and investors and raising a record amount of capital.

    In 2020, SPACs accounted for more than 50% of new publicly listed US companies. By 2021, there were more than 600 SPACs in the US, raising $162 billion.

    In the Asia-Pacific region, both Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) have received significant market interest to introduce SPAC in their capital markets.

    Singapore launched its SPAC framework in September 2021, and to date, there have been three SPACs listed on SGX. Hong Kong followed suit, welcoming its first SPAC listing on the HKEX in March 2022.

    As Asia continues to be the growth engine for the world, it is predicted that there will be many more companies in the region involved in SPACs, as both sponsors and targets.

    Stock Landscape photo of the Singapore financial district and business buildings in the background. Colourful streaks representing speed of lighting also included.

    SPAC benefits and challenges

    Whether you choose to go public via traditional IPO or SPAC, you will face similar regulatory scrutiny.

    But there are some benefits of SPACs, including:

    • Speed to market: a SPAC merger can expedite the timeline to become a public company, normally within 4-6 months, compared to an IPO, which typically takes 6-9 months.
    • Lower fees: SPAC transactions attract around 5-7% fewer fees than IPOs in terms of legal, audit, registration and administrative costs;
    • Flexibility in deal terms: SPACs offer more flexibility than IPOs when it comes to negotiating favourable deal terms, e.g., valuation or additional investment;
    • Greater market certainty: unlike traditional IPOs, target companies can negotiate the price of their stock up front — sometimes months before the transaction closes — giving them more certainty in volatile market conditions;
    • Access to expertise: SPAC sponsors are normally led by experienced management teams who can offer business insights and networks to leverage;

    Preparing for a successful SPAC

    A SPAC is created with the sole purpose of acquiring an operating business. It is also considered to be an alternative way of seeking a listing for a company.

    However, these transactions are not without their challenges. Singapore companies will need to prepare for:

    • An accelerated public company readiness timeline: SPAC targets must be ready to operate as a public company within three to five months of signing a letter of intent.
    • Complex accounting, financial reporting and registration requirements: these may differ based on the lifecycle of the SPAC involved.

    This means you will need expert guidance and a comprehensive project management plan to ensure you are ready to go.

    You must also examine the stringent requirements for SPACs on Asian stock exchanges. For example, Singapore launched its SPACs framework in September 2021 and, to date, has seen three SPACs listed on SGX, with more to come.

    Photo of a hand touching a graphic image of compliance rule law and regulation graphic interface

    According to the SGX listing under the SPAC framework released in September 2021, companies must have the following key features:

    1. Minimum market capitalisation of S$150 million
    2. De-SPAC must take place within 24 months of IPO with an extension of up to 12 months subject to fulfilment of prescribed conditions
    3. Moratorium on Sponsors’ shares from IPO to de-SPAC, a 6-month moratorium after de-SPAC and for applicable resulting issuers, a further 6-month moratorium thereafter on 50% of shareholdings.
    4. Sponsors must subscribe to at least 2.5% to 3.5% of the IPO shares/units/warrants depending on the market capitalisation of the SPAC
    5. De-SPAC can proceed if more than 50% of independent directors approve the transaction and more than 50% of shareholders vote in support of the transaction
    6. Warrants issued to shareholders will be detachable and maximum percentage dilution to shareholders arising from the conversion of warrants issued at IPO is capped at 50%
    7. All independent shareholders are entitled to redemption rights
    8. Sponsor’s promote limit of up to 20% of issued shares at IPO

    Choose a provider that knows the region

    Companies considering a SPAC transaction will need to make sure they meet regulatory requirements for the market they’re operating in.

    It is critical for target companies to understand the criteria and risks, as well as assess their readiness to operate as a public company, just as they would if they were considering the traditional IPO route. They need to prepare themselves to navigate these challenges.

    Choosing an experienced corporate service provider with in-depth knowledge of SGX’s rules will help you navigate this complex territory.

    Our team has over 50 years of experience with taking Singapore companies public and can help ensure you are compliant with local law and regulations. In fact, over 50% of SGX-listed companies trust us with their share registry services.

    Think beyond the bell ringing

    Whether you choose to go for a traditional IPO or the SPAC route, it’s important to think long-term. Once you go public, there are many ongoing requirements to consider.

    Publicly listed companies are subject to high levels of scrutiny from shareholders and regulators alike. The list of ongoing obligations is long and complex, which is why it’s an SGX requirement to appoint a share registrar.

    Partnering with a trusted share registrar in Singapore ensures your company remains compliant with local regulatory requirements while keeping shareholders engaged and informed.

    Here are some typical services a share registrar provides:

    • ongoing share registry maintenance and administration;
    • ensuring all corporate actions are processed according to SGX regulations;
    • meeting management and scrutineering services.

    And, if you operate across multiple jurisdictions, you will need someone who has specialist expertise and experience across multiple APAC countries.

    As one of the leading corporate service providers in the Asia-Pacific region, BoardRoom has over 50 years of experience guiding many listed corporations in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia.

    Contact us to set up a personalised consultation and see how we can add value to your business today.

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    Payroll outsourcing vs payroll software in Singapore: which is right for you?

    Payroll outsourcing vs payroll software in Singapore

    Payroll outsourcing vs payroll software in Singapore: which is right for you?

    The past few years have seen dramatic changes occurring across the globe. Business operating models have evolved. The regulatory landscape has become stricter, and most organisations have shifted to hybrid working models.

    These changes have all had a profound impact on payroll. Organisations are under more pressure than ever to deliver accurate, timely payroll services while still complying with changing regulations.

    This is leading many businesses to rethink how they manage their payroll function. Two common efficiency-boosting options for companies in Singapore are payroll software or outsourcing payroll. But which option is most suited to your company’s requirements?

    Both methods offer advantages, which can make it difficult to evaluate the one that is best for you. Plus, the number of payroll software options in Singapore seems to be limitless, increasing decision complexity.

    The right option for you will depend on several factors, including your company’s:

    • size;
    • growth strategies;
    • compliance requirements; and
    • operating model.

    To help simplify the decision process, this article explores both payroll outsourcing and payroll software in Singapore, and provides guidance on deciding which model is right for you.

    What is outsourced payroll?

    Outsourcing payroll involves hiring a specialist payroll company to handle some, or all, of your payroll functions. An outsourced payroll provider usually offers a wide range of services, so businesses can choose the options that best suit their specific needs.

      payroll-outsourcing-alt-3

      Some typical services that payroll outsourcing providers in Singapore offer include:

      • computing gross to net salary and CPF;
      • providing payroll detail, variance reports and payroll journals;
      • disbursing net salary and CPF via bank accounts, and issuing confidential payslips;
      • preparing year-end IR8A forms and appendices;
      • preparing IR21, GML, NS MUP, CPF refund, government statistics forms, etc. per the Singapore Employment Act; and
      • electronically administering employee leave and expense claims.

        Outsourcing payroll is a well-documented way to improve HR efficiency and reduce costs. Additionally, outsourcing your payroll function can help you to:

        • Save time: outsourcing your payroll enables you to keep managing your core business operations without having to maintain staff to handle day-to-day payroll functions in-house.
        • Increase cost visibility: one of the major benefits of outsourcing is the ability to limit cost fluctuations. You maintain complete visibility over how much you spend each month. And because any additional hires come at a pre-determined rate, you can more easily plan hiring costs.
        • Easily maintain compliance: an outsourced payroll specialist should maintain a team of experts with experience in payroll regulations. This significantly lowers your risk of financial penalties for non-compliance.
        • Increase productivity: handing over your payroll processing reduces the administrative burden on your team, freeing them up to focus on growth and profitability.
        • Enhance security: in a world rife with data security breaches, reputable outsourced payroll providers offer multiple servers, backups and other security systems and processes. These features protect employees’ sensitive personal data and grant you peace of mind as an employer. Additionally, outsourced payroll providers should have robust internal processes that comply with rapidly changing best practices around personal data protection rules.

        What is payroll software?

        While many companies in Singapore outsource their payroll function, others choose to implement some form of dedicated payroll software. Compared with manual processes like Excel spreadsheets or paper records, these options streamline your payroll process and offer the opportunity to automate certain aspects.

        Of course, you still need people – usually your internal HR or finance team – to input wages and hours worked into the software. But once it has the data, the software uses it to automatically perform calculations, deduct withholdings and execute routine payroll tasks.

        As mentioned earlier, companies have many options when it comes to payroll software in Singapore, and benefits can vary extensively between them.

        payroll-services-imgg

        However, a high-quality payroll solution can help your company to:

        • Greatly reduce the chance of human error: a payroll system can automatically calculate bonuses, expenses, holiday pay, etc. with minimum effort. Compared to someone manually entering data into a spreadsheet or system, this can significantly reduce errors.
        • Automate processes: a payroll solution helps to save time and resources by automatically performing manual processes such as generating payslips and year-end reporting.
        • Secure data: reliable payroll software encrypts data and saves it securely on dedicated cloud-based servers.
        • Save time: moving from manual payroll processes to a payroll software system can reduce the need for team members to perform many time-consuming tasks.
        • Gain insights: modern payroll platforms provide real-time reporting capabilities, efficiently streamlining payroll reporting compared to clunky legacy systems.

        Which is right for you? Two important factors to consider

        There are as many advantages of outsourcing payroll services as there are of using SaaS (software as a service) payroll software. The right option is an individual decision that depends on a variety of factors.

        However, we recommend focusing on two considerations as you weigh up your options.

        1. Your company size and growth trajectory

        Payroll software can provide a simple, straightforward payroll processing solution, which can be particularly appealing for smaller companies and start-ups. Purchasing payroll software and employing someone to manage it can also be a cost-effective way to manage payroll in-house.

        Beyond this, you can typically maintain greater control over in-house payroll processes and management, since you can dictate your own process and then change it when required.

        However, as your business grows, so does your payroll complexity.

        If your internal teams are already stretched to the limit, asking them to manage payroll can present a real challenge. You know that a late pay run can result in unhappy employees. You also know that a rushed pay run may have errors. The last thing you want is for a simple payroll mistake to generate costly fines or lawsuits.

        Additionally, if your staff numbers are increasing, a good payroll outsourcing provider can help you to keep up with the changes. Partnering with them early in your expansion journey also enables them to get to know the ins and outs of your company as you grow.

        As a bonus, they may also be able to advise on and help coordinate other aspects of your business such as tax, accounting, corporate secretarial and employee share plan services.

        2. Your regional footprint

        The past year has demonstrated that given the right tools and technology, employees can successfully work from (almost) anywhere. However, this flexibility means you’ll need to consider a payroll option that factors in the new remote nature of work.

        Because SaaS payroll platforms are hosted in the cloud, accessibility is a major benefit.

        SaaS payroll platforms also give you access to information anywhere there is an internet connection, so your payroll staff can work from any location. And if the software offers self-service tools for your employees, such as accessing payslips or logging leave, they can use these remotely as well.

        However, companies that operate across borders will need an international payroll solution to ensure they correctly pay their people in multiple locations. Consider a payroll platform that can handle multi-currency pay runs, so no matter where your people are, you can pay them on time, in the correct currency.

        Flexibility may not equal simplicity

        While remote working is wonderful for employees who want more flexibility in their lives, it has caused more complexity for payroll teams.

        According to EY’s 2022 Global Payroll Survey, remote working policies and their impact on multi-jurisdictional payroll withholding is the number one payroll consideration resulting from the pandemic.

        Payroll legislation also changes frequently, so keeping up with new regulations takes time and sometimes specialist knowledge. If you are managing payroll in-house, you will need someone to stay on top of Singapore’s local regulations and update your payroll system accordingly to ensure you remain compliant.

        Similarly, if you choose to outsource your payroll, it’s worth checking in advance whether your provider has people with the right local knowledge to navigate the changing landscape.

        Regional payroll takes specialist knowledge

        If your organisation is expanding across the Asia-Pacific region, compliance tends to get complicated.

        For example, companies operating in markets with complex labour laws and regulations, such as Malaysia and China, might lack access to local expert knowledge. Without this specialist knowledge, they may struggle to operate with peace of mind.

        This is where an outsourced payroll provider can really add value.

        Outsourcing payroll to a reliable vendor can reduce the burden of worrying about fines or potential lawsuits due to misunderstanding complicated payroll requirements.

        Handing over your payroll management to a trusted third party enables you to redirect your HR team’s resources into other business-generating activities. They can spend less time becoming familiar with the different laws across each country in which you operate – and more time focused on strategy or revenue building.

        Finding a trusted payroll partner

        If you know you need help with your payroll function, it’s worth choosing a partner with experience in, and knowledge of, both outsourcing and payroll software.

        Not only can they advise you on the best solution for you, but they can also help you to adapt your payroll strategy as your company’s needs change – perhaps as you:

        • grow your headcount;
        • expand into other countries within Asia-Pacific; or
        • move to an incorporated company structure.

        At BoardRoom, we offer both payroll outsourcing services and an all-in-one cloud-based HRMS payroll solution, Ignite. Ignite helps to boost the efficiency of your regional payroll processing, giving your leaders more control and foresight for future planning.

        Ignite offers:

        • a complete HRMS solution with multi-country payroll, leave and claims processing;
        • full statutory compliance with local legislation in nine countries across Asia;
        • a flexible automated leave solution and automated payroll processing;
        • an intuitive mobile app for instant employee access to payslips, claims and leave application and submission;
        • attendance-clocking technologies, a shift calendar and a staff rostering system; and
        • a dedicated account manager who provides one easy point of contact.
        Ignite-payroll

        I still can’t decide. Can my company use both?

        Many of our BoardRoom clients use a combination of the two solutions. They might initially come to us needing payroll software; but then as they grow and expand, they decide to outsource their payroll to us.

        A trusted corporate services provider can guide you on best practices and identify key risks and potential problems. They can also provide practical solutions that save your team time and resources – not to mention, helping you to avoid costly non-compliance issues.

        And the benefit of partnering with a trusted full-service provider like BoardRoom is that we can handle other aspects of your business such as:

        Our centralised services offer assistance in multiple fields, providing access to in-depth knowledge of local payroll legislation across the region while also streamlining your outsourcing processes. And you only ever deal with one point of contact, no matter how many jurisdictions you operate in.

        That makes your work life – not just your payroll processes – simple and painless.

        Speak to our payroll specialists today about how we can help streamline payroll services for your company.

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