SINGAPORE: Singapore targets millionaires with at least $100 million to invest. The small island city-state, has made a big name for itself worldwide. Despite its tiny size on the world map, it consistently outperforms in various global rankings, attracting admiration and attention from around the world.
Singapore the world’s third richest country in 2023
When it comes to international recognition, Singapore regularly finds itself at the top. According to the Global Finance Richest Countries in 2023 report, Singapore holds the impressive title of the world’s third wealthiest nation.
With a remarkable GDP per person of US$133,895, even when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Singapore stands shoulder to shoulder with major global economic players. In this ranking, only Ireland and Luxembourg surpass Singapore.
In another ranking, Singapore has once again proven itself as a top global financial centre, coming in just behind New York and London. This recognition comes from the 32nd edition of the Global Financial Centres Index, which was published in March. Singapore outperformed Hong Kong in this assessment for the second year in a row.
Attracting wealth and talent with the Global Investor Programme (GIP)
Singapore has become a global hub for wealth management, making it a magnet for high-calibre business leaders and high-net-worth individuals.
A prominent figure in Singapore’s legal landscape, Loh Kia Meng is known as the co-head of private wealth and family office practices at Dentons Rodyk, a prestigious law firm in Singapore.
He said: “The city-state’s business-friendly and low corporate tax (17%) environment has made it very attractive for corporates to do business here.”
He added: “Attracting high-calibre business owners and high-net-worth individuals has long been Singapore’s priority.”
To cater to this elite audience, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) introduced the Global Investor Programme (GIP) back in 2004.
The GIP presents high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) with three distinct options (Option A, B, and C) to apply for Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) status for themselves and their families. As of March 15, 2023, the GIP has undergone updates, with increased investment requirements and more rigorous renewal conditions.
- For established business owners or founders of fast-growing companies.
- Minimum investment raised to $10 million.
- Requires a staff headcount of 30, with at least half being Singapore citizens.
- Designed for investors.
- Investment in a GIP-select fund increased to $25 million.
- Must maintain this investment for renewal.
- Targets Family Office principals or HNWIs.
- Requires a minimum of $50 million investment in:
- Investment in companies on MAS-licensed exchanges or SGX (mainboard/Catalist).
- Participation in qualifying debt securities listed on MAS’ Qualifying Debt Securities Enquiry System.
- Investment in funds by Singapore-licensed managers on MAS’ Financial Institutions Directory.
- Allocation of private equity in non-listed, Singapore-based businesses.
Tax incentives for family offices and funds
Singapore has raised the bar for family offices and funds seeking tax incentives.
To qualify for the 13O Tax Incentive Scheme, funds must now boast a minimum size of $20 million at the application stage.
As for the 13U Scheme, a minimum fund size of $50 million is required upon application. These changes reflect Singapore’s desire to promote the employment of Singaporeans within family offices and boost professionalism.
Property investments and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)
Singapore’s property market remains appealing, but recent policy shifts impact real estate investments.
Foreign buyers employing trust structures now face a doubled additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) of 60%, designed to encourage foreign buyers to become permanent residents (PRs) and settle in Singapore.
However, those opting for residential property purchases through trust structures must possess substantial liquid assets, as financing is not an option for such transactions.
Path to citizenship in Singapore
For PRs seriously contemplating making Singapore their permanent home, exploring citizenship is a worthy consideration. Singaporean citizens enjoy numerous privileges, including exemption from ABSD when acquiring their initial property.
Singapore’s passport also recently became ‘the world’s most powerful’ as mentioned in the Henley Passport Index 2023,knocking out Japan off its spot.
Singapore’s impressive global rankings, its role as a financial powerhouse, and investment opportunities offered by initiatives like the GIP have made it a preferred destination for many. As the nation continues to evolve, it remains a prominent global player on the economic and financial stage.
Singapore’s elite lineup
Singapore is not just an economic success story; it’s also home to a remarkable assembly of wealth.
At the forefront of Singapore’s richest individuals is Li Xiting, the visionary founder of medical equipment firm Mindray, boasting an astounding net worth estimated at $15.6 billion.
Right behind him, the dynamic duo of property developers, Robert and Philip Ng, secure the second spot.
Goh Cheng Liang, the driving force behind Wuthelam Holdings, renowned for its paints and coatings, proudly claims the third position.
In fourth place stands a familiar name – Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, who in 2011 made a life-changing decision to become a permanent resident of Singapore. Armed with 53 million shares of the social media giant, Saverin was drawn not just by Singapore’s urban allure or natural beauty; he recognized the island nation’s status as an affluent fiscal haven, where capital gains and dividends enjoy tax-free status.
Family offices attract centimillionaires
Loh Kia Meng said:
“Many wealthy foreigners want to set up a family office and funds in Singapore to enjoy the tax incentives. Once you set up a fund, you can manage your wealth and investments through the fund.”
Family offices play a vital role in Singapore’s financial landscape, with a significant presence. Asia hosts 9% of global family offices, and an impressive 59% are in Singapore (2023 Global Family Office Compensation Benchmark Report).
The number of single-family offices (SFOs) in Singapore has surged. In 2020, there were about 400 SFOs; by 2022, this number skyrocketed to 1,100 (Monetary Authority of Singapore).
Affluent individuals are drawn to Singapore for family offices due to tax incentives and effective wealth management. While real estate investments don’t qualify, family offices explore alternative real estate avenues like commercial properties and prime office spaces.
As Loh Kia Meng said, “By raising the investment threshold, the government is targeting millionaires worth at least $100 million to invest in Singapore. We anticipate that the tycoons who want to come to Singapore and set up a family office here will also want to buy a home.”
With these accomplishments, Singapore has proven that size doesn’t matter when vision, determination, and sound economic policies are in play.