Singapore – Our flight touched down at Changi just past midnight, and the clean, well-lighted terminal, still quite busy at this hour, offers a cheerful welcome to the weary traveller, after departing a few hours earlier from a half-empty Chek Lap Kok.
I feel the excitement of a first-time traveller, which may just as well be the case. This is the first time I’ve landed here since 2019, just before Covid struck. Before that I was regular visitor, mostly for business trips, but also for holidays.
Financial services executives meet face-to-face at The Asset Triple A Private Capital and Insurance Awards gala dinner in Singapore.
Everything is as it was, but with the freshness of recaptured experience. The high-tech immigration process, the clean look and smell of the place, the smiling cab driver who is sprightly even at this hour, the smooth, traffic-free ride to our hotel in the city centre, all this spells quiet efficiency.
While nothing seems to have changed on the surface, something feels different somehow. As I walk along Orchard Road, the feeling only gets stronger. After having been locked down in my home city for three years, I savour this liberating sensation of being somewhere else even for just a while.
Just the sight of pedestrians is invigorating. Only a few in the crowd are wearing masks, unlike back home where it is still required even outdoors. I hear the merry cacophony of a hundred tongues – Singlish, Malay, Bahasa, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino, and, of course, English. The gaiety of the Christmas displays, the energy and the vibes all reinforce this feeling of aliveness.
Singapore has been labelled by some market observers as the “Geneva of Southeast Asia” based on the volume of wealth that has been flowing into the city over the past 12 months.
While the evidence is mostly anecdotal, and the authorities have been downplaying such observation, private bankers and wealth managers have admitted to The Asset that a substantial volume of the wealth flowing to Singapore has been coming from North Asia.
Because of this, many asset managers, private bankers and family offices have been setting up shop in the city over the past year. Almost all the banks in Singapore have their own version of wealth management services for the ultra-high-net-worth, high-net-worth, and mass-affluent segments. Today, Singapore’s LinkedIn website is advertising jobs for nearly 1,000 wealth managers with 21 new listings.
In fact, my reason for being on this trip is that The Asset is hosting a gala dinner for the The Asset Triple A Private Capital Awards for Private Banks, Wealth & Investment Bank Advisers, Solutions and Index Providers 2022 at the Four Seasons Singapore. We have 80 private bankers and guests from China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Based on this alone, it would be difficult not to believe that Singapore is indeed the Geneva of the Far East.