Strong corporate governance in Singapore starts with a skilled company secretary

Strong corporate governance in Singapore starts with a skilled company secretary banner

Strong corporate governance in Singapore starts with a skilled company secretary

In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the corporate landscape of markets the world over. For businesses, survival has meant adapting to a new level of uncertainty and change. As we start to emerge from the pandemic stronger and better, Asia-Pacific businesses are pursuing corporate governance so that they will thrive while being in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Read on as Samatha Tai, Regional Managing Director, Corporate Secretarial, delves into the significance of corporate governance in Singapore, and explains how business executives can use values-driven governance approaches to ensure positive results. We will also examine the crucial role of the company secretary in guiding and managing contemporary corporate governance initiatives.

What is corporate governance?

Within an organisation, the meaning of corporate governance is to enhance performance, maintain operational integrity and maximise value for all stakeholders. Businesses that successfully meet corporate governance standards are better positioned to accomplish their objectives, secure investment and outshine competitors.

Furthermore, company-wide corporate governance can help mitigate the risk of misconduct, therefore protecting a business from penalisation.

“Under the Prevention of Corruption Act and related legislation, Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau has the power to investigate corruption, money laundering and bribery, and take measures to deter and punish offenders,” Samantha says. “So businesses need to ensure they have suitable procedures in place.”

Samantha goes on to say, “While compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance is not mandatory in Singapore, its alignment with fiduciary duty makes it a vital investment for any leader. Fiduciary duty is taken very seriously. Regulators take swift action against directors – including independent directors – who fail to fulfil their duties.”

A successful corporate governance framework would include:

  • the creation of customised policies; and
  • company-wide compliance with those policies.

Stewardship of this function usually resides with the board of directors of a company, with the company secretary playing a critical ancillary role.

Corporate Governance

How company secretaries support good governance

Historically, the company secretary performed a largely administrative role. Today, the company secretary performs a vast range of important responsibilities in their capacity as a statutory officer. This includes serving as the nexus between the board of directors, senior management and stakeholders (including regulatory bodies).

Broadly, company secretaries support the board of directors and executive management with:

  • Board practices
  • Regulatory and legal compliance
  • Shareholder relations
  • Subsidiary management

They also assist with the adoption of digital technologies, such as board management and ESG software, to strengthen corporate governance while also improving board and shareholder processes.

Samantha explains that the current role of the company secretary is detailed in the Code of Corporate Governance.

“In Singapore, the advice of the company secretary on corporate governance issues is sought because they attend all board meetings, know the applicable policies and understand compliance obligations,” she says. “They are able to recommend corporate governance processes that need to be put in place. This could relate to board structure or the company’s policies and code of ethics, for example.”

A company secretary’s thorough knowledge of laws, rules and regulations means they can ensure corporate governance standards are complied with.

It is worth noting that the role of the company secretary in corporate governance has become so significant that the UK’s Institute of Company Secretaries and Australia’s Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators have both rebranded to the ‘Chartered Governance Institute’ to reflect this.

Company secretary and boss

Ways to elevate your corporate governance

Good corporate governance is set to become increasingly important in the coming years. Regulators are highly likely to introduce new recommendations for both public and private entities. Companies that continue to meet best-practice standards as they expand will be in a strong position to seize new opportunities and respond to market demands.

By taking these four steps, you can lead your organisation towards exceptional corporate governance.

1. Appoint a skilled company secretary in Singapore

To begin, make sure your business complies with current regulatory rules and applies best practices, particularly those described in the Code of Corporate Governance (The Code). This also means adapting to meet new standards as they are introduced.

“The Code aims to promote high levels of corporate governance in Singapore by putting forth Principles of good corporate governance and Provisions with which companies are expected to comply”.

To satisfy this requirement, a qualified and experienced company secretary would assist with the establishment of a group-wide framework for corporate governance. The framework would include a code of conduct, as well as policies and procedures for corporate governance issues such as whistleblowing, anti-corruption, board diversity and sustainability.

Company secretaries help uphold corporate governance by:

    • Staying up to date with evolving standards
    • Ensuring compliance
    • Carrying out gap analyses
    • Advising on best practices

    Because of this, outsourcing your Company secretary is a popular choice for business leaders who wish to receive specialist advice that’s tailored for their organisation.

    2. Develop comprehensive, customised policies

    Due to Singapore’s demanding workloads at a senior level, companies can be tempted to resort to cookie-cutter solutions when creating their corporate governance policies.

    “But there is a whole lot more to corporate governance than just policy creation,” Samantha warns. “For corporate governance frameworks to work, you have to have intimate knowledge of the workings of your organisation and the mechanism of the Code of Corporate Governance.”

    Effective corporate governance policies:

    • are detailed and exhaustive;
    • reflect organisational values;
    • suit the organisation’s size and industry; and
    • explain how good governance is applied in practical contexts.

    3. Use integrated reporting

    While it is important that your corporate governance policies and reports are up to standard, good governance cannot be accomplished on paper alone. Samantha suggests that integrated reporting is likely to become mandatory in the years ahead.

    “Integrated reporting is a process founded on integrated thinking which espouses communicating how a company’s governance, strategy, performance and prospects can support value creation,” Samantha says. “It adds significance to your annual report.”

    Adopting integrated reporting allows for better employee and shareholder engagement, as well as enhanced value creation – two major benefits that are difficult to achieve when looking at reporting as a mere compliance exercise.

    All members of an organisation are responsible for pursuing good governance, so it is also important to demonstrate its value to board members and employees. You can do this by explaining how corporate governance practices are vital tools for improving company performance, rather than arbitrary obligations that must be fulfilled.

    “Effective corporate governance is embedded into the daily operations of a company,” Samantha says. “It’s not just a compliance policy.”

    Integrated reporting

    4. Embed and emphasise ESG in your organisational culture

    By aligning your company’s culture with its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives, you can help employees better understand the concept of corporate governance and their role in it.

    An external ESG professional can help you communicate key messages, maintain a timely ESG reporting schedule and ultimately build a constructive company culture.

    Due to the current world economic climate, many business leaders are so focused on navigating a challenging economy that they tend to neglect ESG matters.

    “But remember, the ‘social’ element of ESG is about your staff,” Samantha says. “At the end of the day, taking care of your people will impact your profitability positively.”

    To promote top-down corporate governance, regulators are now encouraging greater board involvement in ESG practices. Standards for these practices also continue to evolve on a country-specific basis.

    Keep in mind that board directors are ultimately responsible for mitigating ESG risks and making decisions that increase shareholder value. For this reason, it is critical that businesses establish an extensive ESG strategy that benefits all members of the organisation – including its shareholders and employees – and the environment.

    ESG Strategy

    Start implementing good governance practices today

    In summary, the effectiveness of your corporate governance practices will determine your business success in the years to come.

    As such, it is important that your board members and executive teams help drive the development and implementation of your governance framework. They should also be supported by a company secretary who shares their organisational values.

    A good company secretary is one that offers diverse knowledge, strong ethical guidance, sound judgement and excellent communication skills.

    Having a reliable company secretary managing your corporate governance also enables your executive staff to focus on other pressing business objectives, such as taking your company digital.

    Contact BoardRoom’s corporate secretarial experts to find out how we can help your business achieve its governance goals.

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    Gain a competitive advantage through meaningful sustainability reporting

    Gain a competitive advantage through meaningful sustainability reporting Banner

    Gain a competitive advantage through meaningful sustainability reporting

    Singapore recently raised its national climate target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – earlier than previously committed. In the announcement, the National Climate Change Secretariat urged the region’s public and private sectors to play their part in shaping a low-carbon future.

    The change comes as expectations for genuine environmental, social and governance (ESG) action continue to grow throughout the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide.

    In this article, we speak to Tina Thomas, Head of ESG for BoardRoom, about how Singaporean businesses can enhance their ESG performance in the eyes of stakeholders through high-quality sustainability reporting.

    The importance of sustainability reporting in Singapore

    High expectations for responsible corporate practice in Singapore mean businesses are under pressure to demonstrate their commitment to ESG action. Companies can achieve this by publicly disclosing information about the sustainability outcomes achieved.

    Quality sustainability reporting helps private and public businesses to:

    Attract investment

    According to Enterprise Singapore, ESG must be prioritised to attain investments, as investors are now looking to ‘green’ their portfolios.

    “Investors want to know more about the risk profile of the companies they invest in,” explains Tina.

    ESG reporting allows you to demonstrate the strategies your business is using to respond to the challenges and opportunities affecting its sustainability – and the scope is broader than sustainability alone. Investors want to see how businesses operate with integrity and good social responsibility. For example, local community giving initiatives and ethical decision-making all play a role in shaping a low-carbon future. As a result, investors can have greater confidence in your potential for long-term value creation.

    Achieve robust regulatory compliance

    In an effort to support a sustainable economy and bring companies in line with global baseline reporting standards, Singapore’s regulatory system is escalating its requirements for ESG reporting. Businesses are under mounting pressure to disclose specific data that relates to the climate risks and opportunities most material (relevant) to them.

    “Regulators want companies to start pricing in the cost of externalities, including environmental pollution and biodiversity impacts,” says Tina.

    The law already requires some public-listed companies to produce sustainability reports. However, all Singaporean companies – public or private – can use sustainability reporting as a tool to elevate their reputation and protect their operational longevity.

    Improve brand value

    In a 2022 PWC survey, 32% of Singaporean consumers said they often or always consider governance factors when making purchasing decisions. 31% say the same about social factors. Forward-thinking businesses are tapping into this desire for responsible corporate practice by increasing the visibility of their ESG initiatives.

    “ESG has become a differentiator for businesses by adding to their brand value,” Tina says.

    Businesses should also recognise the potential for ESG reporting to build trust with employees, investors and business partners.

    “It can help you attract the right talent and customers, and tap into new market growth opportunities arising with the evolving ESG trend,” Tina adds.

    ESG Brand Value

    How do I showcase my ESG efforts?

    Any company can publish a statement about its commitment to ESG action. However, without hard data to back up its claims, it is unlikely to earn stakeholder trust.

    Key methods to broadcast the outcomes of your sustainability efforts include:

    Meeting or exceeding any regulatory reporting requirements that apply to your business (e.g. publishing your sustainability report in your annual report)
    Adding a sustainability statement to your website, ensuring it describes all the processes and initiatives you have in place
    Publishing case studies about ESG initiatives or projects you have actioned, with details provided about the targets you achieved against specific sustainability metrics

    Keep in mind that stakeholders, who are on alert for greenwashing, will heavily scrutinise your public ESG disclosures. To illustrate your integrity, demonstrate how your ESG efforts align with your company’s core values using evidence.

    What are the mandatory disclosures for ESG in Singapore?

    By 2025, public-listed companies in some major industries will be required by law to disclose their ESG management in line with recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Listed companies outside the nominated industries will also be required to comply unless they can reasonably explain why they have taken an alternative course of action.

    To provide a starting point for this transition, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has proposed a list of core ESG metrics companies can use for their reporting.

    “The core metrics are quantitative and applicable to most listed companies across various industries,” says Tina.

    Examples of these metrics include:

    Emissions, water management and waste generation
    Gender diversity, employment, development and training, and workplace safety and health
    Composition management, diversity, ethical behaviour, certifications and assurance

    While the core metrics offer commonality and consistency in what companies report, be aware that it is your responsibility to disclose the information most relevant to your business.

    Whilst ESG disclosures are not yet required for private companies in Singapore, ESG reporting must be a business priority if your company wants to remain competitive and be successful. ESG frameworks come in various forms, so it’s important to know what is relevant to your business.

    What reporting framework should I use?

    Whether you are a publicly listed or private company, to ensure your sustainability report carries weight in an increasingly global marketplace, we recommend adhering to globally recognised frameworks such as:

    As a publicly listed company, you must follow SGX guidelines first and foremost; however, some industries require more robust additional reporting. For privately listed companies that don’t need to follow the standards set by SGX, you may choose based on your industry, what your competitors are using, or emerging regulations.

    Do I need to conduct a materiality assessment?

    Impactful ESG action starts with understanding what matters to your business and your stakeholders, and where you can make the most difference. The need for familiarity with these factors makes conducting a materiality assessment critical.

    “A materiality assessment allows businesses to identify the key ESG metrics and factors relevant to them and present a risk or opportunity for the businesses,” explains Tina.

    “From there, they can decide what the next steps should be in terms of how they want to respond.”

    Materiality Assessment

    What are the common challenges of ESG reporting?

    The main sustainability reporting challenges for businesses in Singapore include:

    1. Choosing disclosure topics

    According to Tina, companies often need clarification on which ESG data to include in their reports.

    “ESG encompasses a big list of factors,” she says. “Depending on which framework you look at, there could be as many as a hundred topics you can disclose against.”

    The best framework for you will come down to various factors, such as your listing status, stakeholder expectations, size, industry and geographical presence. After selecting your framework, conducting a materiality assessment will help identify which disclosure topics are most important for your business. Many Singaporean and multinational businesses engage with expert ESG reporting services for guidance on this matter.

    2. Collecting solid, timely data

    Manual tracking of sustainability efforts can be time-consuming and expensive, and the resulting data often lacks accuracy, consistency and depth.

    “ESG data – especially on environmental impacts – can be very difficult to collect because it may fall outside the company’s immediate control,” Tina says. “It may also sit with different people, which makes collecting and combining the data in one place a slow, arduous task.”

    For many businesses, the solution lies in modernising the data collection process.

    “Technology can automate some of the processes around data management and also help streamline the process,” Tina adds.

    3. Setting relevant targets

    Even if you have collected good data on your ESG efforts, you may be unsure how to measure sustainability performance in a meaningful way.

    An ESG services provider will have a thorough understanding of ESG performance benchmarking in your industry and across the SGX, which means they can help you take steps to increase the effectiveness of your initiatives.

    They can recommend achievable yet compelling ESG targets to pursue.

    Relevant Targets

    Can I elevate my brand image through sustainability reporting?

    The best way to ensure that your sustainability reporting bolsters your reputation is by demonstrating how your ESG efforts create real change for local communities.

    “Focus on communicating the positive impact you are having within your sphere of control,” Tina says. “This will eventually help to improve your reputation, brand image and consumer engagement.”

    For powerful reporting, you can also:

      Link ESG achievements back to your core brand values and the ESG issues your business is most passionate about
      Use macro indicators like the UN Sustainable Development Goals to measure the change you are stimulating on a micro level

      Enhance your sustainability reporting with BoardRoom

      BoardRoom’s ESG Access platform builds greater value into your sustainability reporting by automating your data collection, report production and stakeholder engagement processes. Its evidence-based approach means you and your stakeholders can expect higher returns on investment in sustainability initiatives.

      With BoardRoom’s holistic approach to ESG, our services extend beyond reporting to advisory and assurance. From conducting a materiality assessment to identify which ESG issues relate to your organisation to ensuring supply chain compliance with socially responsible business practices, we help transform your organisation into a more socially accepted, environmentally sustainable business.

      Please contact us to find out more.

      Contact BoardRoom for more information:


      Tina Thomas

      Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

      E: [email protected]

      T: +65 6536 5355

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      To discover insights and updates on the tax incentives announced that will implicate your tax planning, download our Singapore 2023 Budget Report.

      If you have any questions relating to the information contained in this report, please contact our tax advisors via email or call us at +65 6536 5355.

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      The company secretary role is evolving in Singapore: find out how

      The company secretary role is evolving in Singapore

      The company secretary role is evolving in Singapore: find out how

      Company secretaries were traditionally responsible for largely administrative duties, from taking minutes to filing annual returns, among other internal tasks. However, the role is evolving as corporate governance and organisational management become more rigorous and important. Thanks to the reimagining of business in the age of digital transformation, today, most of the administrative aspects of the role are undertaken by technology, leaving the Company Secretary to focus on advisory work and business development.

      In Singapore today, the company secretary has a wide range of vital responsibilities across various business functions. They, therefore, play a key role in helping businesses comply and thrive.

      This article explains the evolving role of company secretaries, and how a knowledgeable company secretary can help your business outperform the competition.

      Why are company secretaries essential?

      It is the responsibility of a company secretary to support business operations. This includes ensuring that the Companies Act and all relevant laws, rules & regulations are complied with.

      Do not underestimate the value of a skilled company secretary if you want your business to prosper – especially in competitive markets. By elevating your governance practices, they can help improve your business’s performance while maximising benefits.

      The services of company secretaries can include:

      • making sure your business is structured well;
      • advocating for the implementation of a comprehensive environmental, social and governance strategy, known as ESG in Singapore;
      • ensuring organisational compliance with all relevant laws, rules and regulations; and
      • rolling out progressive corporate governance practices.

      Because they help ensure companies achieve their goals with determination and transparency, company secretaries are commonly regarded as ‘the voice of reason’ in a business.


      The duties of a company secretary in Singapore

      Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries have varying laws, rules and regulations for company secretarial matters. By law, all new companies in Singapore are required to appoint a company secretary.

      Typical routine company secretary duties include:

      Planning annual general meetings
      Attending and taking minutes of board and board committee meetings
      Preparing and filing annual returns
      Conversing with directors and shareholders
      Attending to the division, consolidation and transfer of shares
      Updating secretarial records, including statutory registers
      Updating the board on regulatory changes

      Company secretaries can aid your business at any stage of its life, whether you are starting a business in Singapore or shutting your doors.

      What role does the company secretary currently play?

      Originally, company secretaries had a low level of authority. But today, they are highly knowledgeable about local laws, rules and regulations that companies are subject to. Directors and shareholders often seek the company secretary’s opinion on how to address business compliance related issues, which indicates that the position has evolved into a crucial advisory role for businesses.

      In recent years, guiding the board on ESG matters is a new focus area for company secretaries. The most reputable company secretaries have had to work hard to achieve the level of knowledge required. This ESG proficiency includes a deep understanding of how ESG relates to company strategy, financial statements, and possible business implications.

      ESG performance support

      Now that investors, regulators and consumers have high expectations for strong ESG, companies in Singapore are under pressure to display good governance. A 2020 KPMG survey found that sustainability reporting throughout APAC grew from 78–84% since 2017.

      Given their extensive engagement with the board and company operations, skilled company secretaries are vital when it comes to making ESG strategies a success.

      Company secretaries often help drive ESG performance by:

      • working closely with sustainability personnel to mitigate risks and capture opportunities;
      • assisting with the implementation of best-practice ESG measures (e.g. whistleblower protection policies)
      • establishing routine ESG auditing;
      • ensuring honest ESG reporting in communications materials; and
      • complying with ESG regulatory requirements

      Regulatory compliance support

      One of the company secretary’s core duties is to stay on top of all relevant laws, rules and regulations. Directors and senior management must be able to rely on the advice of the company secretary.

      Furthermore, company secretaries help organisations plan for potential changes in relevant laws, rules and regulations.

      Your company secretary can help promote regulatory compliance in several ways, including:

      • ensuring timely submission of transactions to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA);
      • organising board and shareholder meetings, and minuting such meetings;
      • preparing shareholder and board resolutions;
      • notifying ACRA of any changes to statutory information;
      • maintaining compliance with the Listing Rules of Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (“SGX-ST”) or the SGX-ST Listing Manual Section B: Rules of Catalist, as the case may be; and
      • producing corporate governance reports for publication in annual reports.

      Capable company secretaries can provide practical compliance solutions without requiring excessive expenditure of resources by harmonising their own experience with leading-edge technology.

      Prominent challenges in the company secretarial function

      Adaptability and advanced communication skills are crucial traits to seek when selecting a company secretary. When it comes to addressing complex company secretarial matters, these qualities are essential.

      The three primary obstacles that company secretaries may encounter today are as follows.

      1. Monitoring shifting regulatory landscapes

      Ensuring organisational compliance in the face of continuously changing regulatory systems is the biggest challenge for company secretaries. As a way to support ongoing compliance, they usually take the initiative to communicate with authorities on a regular basis.

      Company secretaries can be a critical conduit between businesses and regulators. By securing knowledge of legislative changes in advance, they can help your company prepare for changes before the changes are implemented.

      As a result, there is no need to frantically adjust processes or check off requirements once new rules are introduced.

      2. Providing compliance solutions that are tailor-made

      The most effective compliance framework for your company will depend on a range of factors, including its size, location, industry and listing status. It is important that company secretaries are able to deliver custom business solutions that adhere not only to the organisation’s constitution, but also the Companies Act and any other relevant laws, rules and regulations.

      When properly tailored, a compliance framework can help an organisation function ethically and successfully.

      3. Cultivating buy-in among stakeholders

      On some occasions, businesses fail to understand the benefits of appointing a capable, well-respected company secretary. This is often reflective of a weak compliance culture in which the opportunities that stem from good compliance are not recognised.

      It is the company secretary’s duty to supervise regulatory compliance efforts throughout the business. They need to engage with directors, shareholders and employees to help them understand:

      • the ‘why’ behind relevant statutory, regulatory and corporate requirements;
      • the reasons why compliance with these requirements is necessary; and
      • the advantages that strong compliance can have for a business.

      For peace of mind that your organisation continues to maintain a high level of compliance, appoint a company secretary that has the same values system as your organisation and believes that strict compliance is integral to business success.


      Seek a company secretary you can depend on

      By working with a reliable corporate services provider, many organisations are finding they can better streamline their operations. In addition to corporate secretarial services, these can include help with share registry and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), as well as accounting and payroll. Having external support with company compliance also provides high-level personnel with more time to progress expansion goals, and greater opportunity to increase business effectiveness and profitability

      With a corporate secretarial services provider supporting your business, you can:

        Trust that your company incorporation is well managed
        Maintain multi-country compliance through a single contact person
        Increase the efficiency of compliance with cross-border operations
        Benefit from business expansion advice
        Preserve money and time due to a lightened administrative load
        Funnel more resources into your main business goals

        If you have plans to expand your business throughout APAC, it is important to anticipate the differing sets of laws, rules and regulations each region will present, as well as the cultural nuances you will encounter. You must also abide by any legal requirements imposed on any collaborations you enter into in a foreign jurisdiction.

        Businesses whose company secretary lacks the necessary skills, qualifications or attitude to promote strong corporate governance are at risk of being fined for non-compliance of any relevant laws, rules and regulations.

        Know that if you partner with separate corporate advisory services in multiple countries, this may make your operations more complicated. To help simplify your processes, it may be better to engage one provider that runs a number of local offices across APAC.


        Give your company a competitive edge

        For companies with plans to grow, BoardRoom offers a range of corporate services to support successful expansion. We maintain up-to-date knowledge of local regulatory landscapes and industry best practices, so you can trust us to provide expert advice from start to finish.

        If you are wondering how to appoint a company secretary in Singapore and would like information about BoardRoom’s world-class corporate secretarial services, please contact our specialists today.

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        Fast-track business growth with a seamless transition to outsourced accounting services

        Fast-track business growth with a seamless transition to outsourced accounting services

        Fast-track business growth with a seamless transition to outsourced accounting services

        If your company has plans to expand throughout the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), outsourced accounting services can promote smooth business growth in a volatile economic environment.

        Considering the complexity of the accounting function, it is not unusual for business leaders to feel daunted at the prospect of engaging an external team. In this article, we discuss the ways that outsourcing supports a smart business model and the steps you can take to ensure a seamless transition process.

        Why outsource accounting?

        The many benefits of outsourcing bookkeeping and accounting mean it is becoming an increasingly popular option for APAC businesses. In fact, a 2020 global study found that almost half of finance accounting professionals are considering outsourcing more processes.

        There are three main reasons for this trend.

        1. Access to expertise and experience

        Firstly, outsourcing provides access to trained professionals who possess a high level of relevant knowledge and skill — qualities that are not always easy to attain through recruitment.

        “Companies often want to move to outsourcing because they’re looking for professionals who can help them improve their processes,” says Yang Shuzhen, Accounting Director for BoardRoom.

        Operational teams and managers are usually tied up in day-to-day matters, which makes it harder to look at processes objectively and identify opportunities for improvement. This is just one area where an external team can help.

        “And with COVID hitting the world, lots of people have moved back to their home countries,” Shuzhen points out. “This means the labour market is very tight, so many businesses are no longer able to look for the necessary expertise and experience in their own countries.”

        2. Quick, reliable service

        Secondly, accounting outsourcing provides immediate, effective support at a time when turnover of finance staff is high. “A lot of financial professionals want to take a break or try a totally new industry,” Shuzhen says. “So people are leaving, and in many cases, companies are not able to replace them at the same speed.”

        This can result in insufficient handovers as well as staff shortages, where transactions and processes become undone. Businesses facing these challenges will thus turn to an external firm that will have a pool of trained, professional accountants ready to assess the situation and take over the processing.

        “They need people who are experienced enough to not only take over their accounting tasks but also advise them moving forward,” Shuzhen says. “An external team can help you establish standard operating procedures and internal controls, which are critical for success.”

        Quick Reliable Service

        3. Support for digital transformation

        The accounting industry is undergoing a period of major change, with digital transformation opening up opportunities to turn data into actionable business insights. The finance function is now expected to help progress strategic business goals in addition to completing transactional tasks, which means the necessary skill set for finance professionals is evolving.

        A 2020 Deloitte study found that finance’s new role as a strategic business partner will require businesses to balance human and machine-based competencies while also embodying the four qualities of future-ready companies: analytical, adaptive, agile and anticipatory.

        The data analytics skills and technological expertise required to achieve this can be difficult to maintain internally, which is why many businesses are engaging premium accounting firms as a solution.

        The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased demand for outsourcing even further, with the global finance and accounting outsourcing market expected to reach USD 53.4 billion by 2026. This is mainly due to an industry-wide desire for streamlined solutions and stability in uncertain times, which is exactly what corporate services firms can provide.

        The challenges of in-house accounting

        There are two key reasons as to why APAC businesses are moving away from in-house accounting.

        It is labour-intensive

        Recruiting, training and managing a finance team takes time — as does expanding the team as your business grows.

        “A firm that’s rapidly expanding will see a lot of resources going towards training the team, keeping morale up and ensuring the team is functioning well,” Shuzhen says. “This is important because good financials and timely reporting help the business when stakeholders are making decisions.”

        But resignations can be tough on a team. Businesses may spend time on a proper handover and training for the new team, but there will be a learning curve, so it is unlikely they will have the same input as the previous team. There is also no guarantee that the workers will stay for multiple years.

        “When these transitions become frequent and handover periods are tight, deliverables may be affected,” Shuzhen says.

        It is difficult to adapt to technological change

        Digital advancement across APAC is putting pressure on internal teams to adopt new accounting systems that are more complex than traditional ones.

        While this adaptation is important for ongoing productivity, staffing shortages brought on by the Great Resignation mean there is often not enough time to ensure new systems are implemented in a correct manner. As a result, the new software can become more of a hindrance than a help, resulting in further delays and expenditure.

        An expert accounting partner can communicate effectively with software vendors to ensure new systems are properly customised to suit your business. They can also coordinate a rollout of the new software that’s both strategic and trouble-free, ensuring the most important solutions are implemented first.

        How to outsource accounting services

        For a straightforward transition to outsourced accounting services in Singapore, we recommend following these steps:

        1. Reflect on the accountancy challenges you are currently facing and what you are hoping outsourcing can solve for you.
        2. Assess the budget you have available for accounting outsourcing.
        3. Contact a reputable accounting services provider. They will talk with you to understand your current situation, help you gather all the necessary information and advise you on the next steps.
        4. Enquire about accounting software solutions the firm provides to determine the most suitable one for your business.

        A skilled provider will attend to the critical tasks that need attention first. Once these are under control, they will then work with you to devise a holistic end-to-end accounting solution to suit your business and provide personalised guidance thereafter.

        To promote smooth and efficient communication with your provider, it is also worth considering who in your organisation is the best person to liaise with them directly.

        The appointed person could be either a finance manager, CEO, business owner or a director: the most important thing is that they have strong finance knowledge and are able to discuss financial matters in detail. This will also help ensure the resulting solutions are tailored to your needs.

        Accounting Professional

        Choosing the right provider for your business

        Your accounting services provider should seamlessly integrate with your business and have a thorough understanding of your challenges, just as an in-house team would. Essentially, your partner should provide all the advantages of an in-house team without any of the drawbacks.

        A full-service firm will be able to take over all aspects of your accounting and bookkeeping, from your accounts receivable and payable to your general ledger and financial reporting. They will also be able to provide business support in other additional areas such as cash flow management to help your company reach its goals.

        “At BoardRoom, our accounting service goes beyond transactional processing,” Shuzhen explains. “Financial data can be very useful, and we make full use of this data when advising our clients.”

        It is important to seek an experienced firm because they will be able to quickly and easily identify effective solutions for any accountancy challenges you are facing. Also, you will be able to trust that the next time your company is audited, it has followed all the correct protocols.

        What to avoid when outsourcing your accounting

        If you are considering transitioning to accounting outsourcing, avoid delaying your decision.Businesses often waste resources trying to solve accounting problems on their own when an external services provider could have stepped in much earlier and applied solutions in a shorter time frame.

        Financial obligations and issues can quickly accumulate, even if the entity is small. So if you are setting up a new entity or branch in a neighbouring country, it is best to engage an external team right from the start to ensure the right accountancy processes are in place.

        The longer you wait to outsource, the more complex and time-consuming it can often be to organise your finances.

        Financial Accounting

        How can outsourcing fast-track business growth?

        If your company has plans to expand, an accounting services provider can be an invaluable business partner on your growth journey.

        They will be able to assist you by:

        Providing detailed advice and accurate data at any time (so you can make timely decisions)
        Preparing reports for potential investors
        Preparing financial ratios so you can have timely conversations with banks

        An accounting partner can also help establish internal accounting controls at your headquarters and roll these out within finance units in other countries. Having consistent internal controls in place across your regional locations means you can easily generate accurate group-wide data at any time of the year.

        Ensure multi-country compliance

        Another way accounting partners support business growth is by ensuring full regulatory compliance, including the preparation and filing of statutory reports.

        In terms of your Singapore obligations, they will ensure all SFRS are met and GST returns are filed on time. Other APAC regions will have different regulatory systems, and some are quite demanding and complex.

        By consolidating taxes with a global firm, you can have confidence your business is meeting its local compliance requirements on an ongoing basis.

        Begin your transition to accounting outsourcing

        No matter where you are on your expansion journey, preparing your accounts is vital for ensuring a smooth and profitable trajectory.

        To find out more about BoardRoom’s world-class accounting and bookkeeping services, as well as our complementary payroll outsourcing service, please contact us.

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        SG AGM Trends Report (2022 Edition)

        SG AGM Trends Report Banner

        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.

        Download Singapore’s Trends Report (2022 Edition)

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        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: 


        Engaged & collaborative employees


        Low voluntary turnover rate*


        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

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        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.

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        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.


        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.


        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.



        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.


        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


        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

        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
        Benefits and bonuses
        Work-life balance
        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.

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