Singapore doesn’t provide detailed statistics about where its wealthy immigrants come from. But the explosive rise in family offices are symptomatic of the attraction for Chinese tycoons. The number of these offices almost doubled to about 700 at the end of 2021 from the previous year. While China’s wealthy aren’t the only drivers of the growth, some service providers say they are by far the largest market.
Michael Marquardt, whose firm IQ-EQ Asia helps set up family offices, said the number of inquiries from Chinese clients jumped about 25% to 50% just before and after the Party Congress. Vikna Rajah, head of tax and trust at law firm Rajah and Tann Singapore LLP, said in June that more than 30% of the clients he’s helped apply for family office tax exemptions are from Greater China, including Hong Kong.
“There’s definitely been an increase in interest,” Marquardt said. “Entrepreneurs who have done well and taken their companies public are interested in parking their international wealth in a place like Singapore.”
The natural comparison is between Singapore and Hong Kong because they are both in Asia with majority Chinese populations. However, the better comparison for Singapore is with Switzerland and Luxembourg. The city state’s economy is much more focused wealth management and the buy side than the sell side/capital markets expertise of Hong Kong.
Singapore’s financial sector found support at the 1000-day MA in July which coincided with the region of the 2007 peak. It continues to extend its rebound.
The Singapore Dollar has been ranging between US$0.70 – US$0.75 since 2015 and bounced emphatically from the lower boundary over the last six weeks. While short-term overbought, there is medium-term scope for continued upside as investor attention migrates back towards Asia with the weakening US dollar environment.
Singapore’s government and intellectuals are also doing a masterful job of staying above the fray in an increasingly fraught geopolitical environment. Kishore Mahbubani’s Has China Won? is an example of how Singaporean thought is attempting to stand apart without insulting China. This week's meeting between Wang Qishan and Henry Kissinger in Singapore is another example.Back to top