Banking & Financial Services

Mazars in Singapore Expands Financial Advisory and Consulting Teams With Appointment of Two New Local Partners


22 May 2023

Mazars in Singapore has expanded its Financial Advisory and Consulting practices by appointing two new local Partners, Ellyn Tan and Athreya H. D., who commenced their roles on 8 and 22 May 2023, respectively.

The additions to the Singapore leadership will enable Mazars to continue delivering a comprehensive suite of tailored services, from M&A deals to enterprise risk management and help clients maximise their value. It also underscores Mazars’ commitment to providing clients with top-tier financial advisory and consulting services in Singapore and further strengthens the firm’s expertise and capabilities in the region.

In her new role, Ellyn Tan will lead and expand Mazars’ restructuring and insolvency practice. With over 15 years of professional experience across renowned consulting, advisory, and investment firms, Ellyn is a notable name in Singapore’s restructuring and insolvency industry. She is a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner with extensive experience managing litigation, asset recovery, and restructuring engagements. In addition, Ellyn is also a Certified Fraud Examiner, Qualified Listed Entity Director, and is a Board of Director of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation.

Ellyn Tan, Partner – Singapore, Financial Advisory (Restructuring & Insolvency), said: “I am thrilled to join Mazar’s Financial Advisory team in Singapore and lead the restructuring and insolvency practice. With my specialisation in complex restructuring and cross-border insolvency, I am confident in our ability to drive impactful outcomes for clients, helping them navigate complex challenges and contribute to Mazars’ continued growth and success.”

Athreya has over 16 years of experience in financial services, with extensive experience in the banking sector and in-depth knowledge of enterprise risk management, regulatory compliance, internal audit, and corporate governance. With stints spanning India, USA, Malaysia, and Singapore, he has led global and regional initiatives for international banks and has expertise in areas such as anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, customer due diligence, U.S. foreign account tax and compliance, personal data protection and ESG. In Mazars, he will manage and grow the portfolio of financial institution clients, focusing on risk management, regulatory compliance, and corporate governance.

“I’m excited to join Mazars and contribute to the growth of our Financial Services advisory and consulting practice. With my broad experience, I look forward to helping our financial institutional clients address their risk and compliance challenges in today’s evolving regulatory environment,” said Athreya H. D., Partner – Singapore, Consulting (Financial Services).

Rick Chan, Managing Partner & Head of Audit & Assurance APAC, said, “We are pleased to welcome Athreya and Ellyn to our team in Singapore. Expanding our leadership in these two key areas is a strategic move that will enable us to provide even more comprehensive and customised services to our clients across the entire business lifecycle.

“Athreya and Ellyn bring extensive experience in their respective fields, and we are confident that their expertise and capabilities will be invaluable as we continue to grow our service offerings in Singapore and across the region. Athreya’s addition to our team enhances our consulting capabilities and brings valuable insights into the APAC market landscape. The financial services sector faces growing challenges, and his expertise in risk strategy and governance will allow us to better navigate these complexities. Additionally, Ellyn’s appointment comes at a time of increasing demand for financial advisory services, and we believe she will play a critical role in helping us meet this demand and strengthen our position.”

This move follows the appointment of five new global partners in December 2022, including Chin Chee Choon (Audit & Assurance), Chester Liew (Risk Consulting), Elaine Chow (Tax), Rain Chong (Outsourcing), and Justin Lim (Outsourcing), further boosting Mazars’ capabilities. With over 47,000 professionals in 100 countries, Mazars provides tailored solutions to clients of all sizes across a range of industries.

In Singapore, Mazars has over 350 employees and has been supporting businesses of all sizes and industries for over 30 years. In 2021/2022, Mazars achieved record global revenues of €2.45 billion, with Singapore being one of the key contributors to the firm’s growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The firm’s success is driven by its client-centric approach, global network, and deep industry expertise across various sectors, including financial services, real estate, manufacturing, and more. Mazars’ focus on digital innovation and sustainability has also allowed the firm to stay ahead of the curve and deliver value-added services that address the evolving needs of its clients.

Customer Trust In Financial Services Providers Is Weak Across Most Of Asia Pacific


18 May 2023

Customers seek greater empathy, dependability, and competence from their banks, investment firms, and life insurers.

According to Forrester’s Financial Services Customer Trust Index, earning the trust of customers is crucial to driving revenue, especially in times of economic volatility. In Asia Pacific (APAC), the results show that customer trust in banks, investment firms, and life insurers is lacking in most of the region. For example, less than half of customers in Australia, Hong Kong S.A.R., and Singapore trust their banks, while less than a third of customers in Australia, Hong Kong S.A.R., and Malaysia trust their investment managers. Additionally, less than a fifth of customers in Hong Kong S.A.R. and Singapore trust their life insurers.

Forrester recently surveyed nearly 18,000 online adults across Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to measure customers’ trust in their financial services providers. Built upon Forrester’s seven levers of trust, the Financial Services Customer Trust Index offers data and insights to help brands assess customer trust, identify gaps, and prioritise improvements that drive growth.

Across the APAC markets surveyed, customers deem empathy, dependability, and competence from their financial services providers the most crucial attributes to securing their trust. Brands with strong customer trust can expand and extend customer relationships, including recommending the brand to others and forgiving product- or service-related mistakes.

Key regional findings include:

  • Australia. Only 23% of customers have high trust in their banks. Australia also received the lowest trust score for investment firms, as firms didn’t perform well in several trust levers.
  • China. The majority of metro Chinese banking customers said their bank is dependable (70%), competent (69%), and transparent (78%). Investment managers also have high customer trust.
  • India. Compared to other markets, customers in India, along with customers in Indonesia, have high levels of trust in their banks and life insurers. However, the investment sector in metro India received a mediocre overall trust score (69.9).
  • Singapore. Only 30% of customers have high trust in their banks, while investment customers give their investment firms a moderate trust score. Meanwhile, 70% of customers have low trust in their life insurers.

“Earning customer trust is imperative for financial services providers, especially in this volatile financial environment,” said Frederic Giron, vice president and senior research director at Forrester. “Customers want to feel assured that their banks, investment managers, and insurers are reliable, trustworthy, and empathetic to their needs. Our research finds that when customer trust is strong, firms can reap several financial, competitive, and reputational benefits. Forrester’s Financial Services Customer Trust Index is designed to help brands understand the key drivers of customer trust and the specific actions they can take to build and strengthen that trust.”


  • Explore why financial services providers in APAC struggle to win their customers’ trust.
  • Uncover the drivers and impacts of low trust levels in the financial services industry.
  • Read more about Forrester’s Financial Services Customer Trust Index.

Reimagining Financial Services via Data-Driven Processes


16 May 2023

Written By: Hon Chew Seetoh, Director of Asia, Boomi

Today, the only constant in the Asia Pacific’s financial services market is constant evolution. The hypercompetitive landscape is keeping providers on their toes, especially in terms of driving digital customer experience and satisfaction. In Singapore for instance, a survey reveals that 21 percent of adults in the country have a digital bank account, with that figure expected to jump to 30 percent by year-end. For traditional financial services players, staying relevant in the age of changing consumer behaviour and digital-native new entrants to the market can seem daunting. However, striving to understand your customers deeply can turn the tables and provide new impetus to stay relevant.

The substance of financial services providers’ relationship with their customers remains trust, ease of use and personalised, nuanced offerings. However, what has changed, is how they interact through the new channels opened up by digital banking. The fact is that banks actually sit on a veritable gold mine, by way of the sheer volume of data they sit on. This offers real avenues to tailor services and generate added value, but rests on data being managed strategically, handled securely, interpreted correctly, and finally used to execute fresh offerings.

Converting Challenges into Opportunities

While financial services have been striving to improve processes in a bid to comply with a changing regulatory landscape, the need to increase customer value should now likewise be central in efforts to refine workflows. Big Data is key to this, and its growth has led to an explosion of opportunities for the industry to deepen their knowledge of target audiences. Containing information on preferences, needs, and buying patterns, Big Data can be leveraged to deliver new digital products and services tailored to customers at the point of need.

To meet these ever-growing demands, the approach must be to move away from target group management in favour of targeted expectation management. This hinges on holistically managing all information at the business’ fingertips, with a unique approach that integrates state-of-the-art methodologies and technologies. Financial service providers that implement modern tech stacks will be in a position to leverage data analytics from datasets and gain a more comprehensive understanding of their customers.

But while digital transformation grows apace, data-centricity remains a challenge. An EY report notes that though data and analytics constitute the second-highest investment area for the region’s financial services industry, a mere 8 percent describe themselves as data-centric.

The Importance of Generating Continuous Value

For the typical financial services executive across Asia Pacific, the importance of Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) is not uncharted waters. Customers’ financial needs change and evolve over the span of their lives. The imperative for providers is to meet these needs better and faster than competitors. But meeting these continuously changing needs quickly, responsively, and helpfully is an entirely different kettle of fish.

The first step, really, is to recognise that obtaining a full and rich view of their customers provides pathways to deliver the desired services quickly. Then, to realise the added value for their customers and themselves, providers need to create an ecosystem that enables close collabration and seamless data sharing across all departments. This is critical to catering for the operational and analytical mapping needed to solve the complexities around customer processes. To start with, businesses need to review their technology stack; investing in modern CRM systems is one thing, but process management and application integration should not be sidelined. Failing to account for integration can result in an environment fraught with disparate applications unable to work at its optimal level.

Here is where an integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) offers financial services players the ability to glue together the different departments and systems and bring together the organisation’s applications and data sources.

Modernize and Innovate with Integration

With an iPaaS, financial services providers can easily and quickly build interoperability across legacy environments and cloud applications. The boost in flexibility will position the business to meet even the most acute challenges. Through a cloud-native integration platform, financial services institutions can unify data for analysing profitability, managing risk, and providing exceptional customer service. At the same time, this will allow legacy infrastructure to be modernised.

The value of this was noted by an EY report, which found that, out of all sectors in Asia Pacific, financial services struggles the most with migrating legacy architecture and integrating multiple systems. This fact offers those quick enough to leverage iPaaS to differentiate by stitching together new and old systems at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional integration.

With modern middleware designed to raise agility and make the business more lean, Asia Pacific’s financial services industry can adapt at unprecedented speed to meet customers where they are. Armed with the decisive added value this creates, providers across the region can thrive by staying competitive and giving their customers what they need as their own financial needs shift and change.

Stripe To Better Help Ambitious APAC Companies Modernize Their Finance Stacks


26 April 2023

With the launch of Revenue Reporting, and major upgrades to Stripe Billing and Stripe Tax, Stripe aims to bring the same users-first approach to back-office operations that it brought to payments.

 Stripe, a financial infrastructure platform for businesses, today announced the expansion of its revenue and finance automation suite to give businesses in Asia Pacific power over the entire life cycle of their cash flow. By coordinating billing, tax, reporting, and data services in one modern stack, Stripe’s revenue and finance automation suite eliminates the inefficiencies of legacy finance tools and supports revenue growth.

With the launch of Revenue Reporting, and major upgrades to Stripe Billing and Stripe Tax, Stripe aims to bring the same users-first approach to back-office operations that it brought to payments. The revenue and finance automation suite allows finance teams to get more done in less time, while freeing them to focus on the areas that matter most to their business.

The Challenges Facing Finance Leaders

While the internet has been a boon to productivity, the gains have been uneven. Common financial processes like billing, tax, and quarterly reporting are still painfully inefficient and manual. They’re also typically spread across a dozen or more software tools. The result: one-third of finance leaders reopen their books at least once a quarter because of accounting errors, and half spend 10 hours a month manually correcting discrepancies.

Stripe’s suite relieves those burdens by equipping finance leaders with revenue management tools that are as sophisticated as the businesses they run. The suite automates manual work and improves accuracy across the cash flow life cycle, from payments and billing to tax, reporting, and reconciliation.

Fast-growing businesses like OpenAI no longer need to cobble together as many integrations from multiple software providers—a single integration with Stripe works instead. They can start with Stripe for payments or subscriptions; then, as they grow, they can easily switch on other revenue and finance automation products to support work like billing quotes and VAT.

It’s how finance should work for any modern business. 

“For years, our users have been asking Stripe to help them run a more efficient finance operation, one plagued by fewer daily frustrations,” said Vivek Sharma, head of revenue and finance automation at Stripe. “We can’t ship them Advil every month, but we can take care of their headaches. Stripe’s revenue and finance automation suite is designed to be a smooth, one-stop shop for forward-thinking finance teams.”

A Unified Approach To Revenue & Financial Management

The revenue and finance automation suite includes Billing and Stripe Invoicing for acquiring customers and earning revenue; Stripe Tax, Revenue Recognition, and (as of today) Revenue Reporting for collecting sales tax, reporting revenue, and closing the books; and Stripe Data Pipeline and Stripe Sigma for data analysis. 

These products use Stripe’s industry-leading payments architecture to grow revenue on its users’ behalf. Stripe’s automated revenue recovery features earned Stripe businesses an additional $3.8 billion in revenue in 2022 by reducing customer churn and payment failures. Billing has been adopted by hundreds of thousands of businesses, including SlackDeliveroo, and Electrolux.

“We’re excited to work with Stripe to monetize our flagship products,” said Peter Welinder, vice president of product and partnerships at OpenAI. “Beyond payments, Stripe is helping us with everything from recurring billing and tax compliance to automating our financial operations.”

Today’s expansion includes: 

  • A new Revenue Reporting tool (beta), which gives finance leaders a better snapshot of key financial metrics, including monthly recurring revenue, customer growth by activity, and revenue by product, and provides automated accounting statements for cash-accounting businesses; 
  • Stripe Tax API with multiprocessor support, which lets businesses manage tax on any transaction, including those not processed by Stripe (available in 40+ countries); 
  • Stripe Tax support for additional location-specific tax requirements
  • No-code revenue recovery and retention automations, which allow finance teams to create customized triggers and actions such as receiving notifications that an invoice is overdue, or automatically sending an email to confirm a subscription has been canceled, to improve cash flow and grow revenue; 
  • The ability to set subscription schedules in the Stripe Dashboard, letting users model complex subscriptions with various trial and pricing periods and automate those changes over time. Stripe developed this functionality as part of a multiyear effort to support Atlassian’s enterprise needs and is now making it generally available; 
  • A new Salesforce CPQ connector, allowing sales teams to create a new Stripe-powered subscription for a customer directly within Salesforce; 
  • Automatic reconciliation capabilities to help businesses compare order-level data from their systems of record with Stripe transactions and bank deposits, providing clear visibility into cash collection and ensuring that accounts balance.

Tango is a US-based SaaS platform that makes it easy for anyone to create a how-to guide. It uses Stripe’s revenue and finance automation suite to create a billing system that integrates closely with all of its essential finance data and scales naturally as the company grows. 

“Building flexible billing methods on our own would have been super costly, and engineering hours are really precious. Stripe allowed us to quickly expand our business upmarket and meet the needs of enterprise customers who have complex sales processes,” said Dan Giovacchini, cofounder of Tango.

SVB Collapse Commentary: Potential Rippling Effects To The APAC Region

26 April 2023

The future appears questionable in light of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank’s failure.

Numerous factors contributed to the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), notably an inadequate amount of diversification and a traditional bank run, in which a large number of customers withdrew their savings simultaneously out of concern for the bank’s stability. The majority of SVB’s deposits were new businesses and because technology was in such high demand during the pandemic, they deposited huge sums of money from investors.

Inadequate Amount of Diversification

Silicon Valley Bank made significant investments in long-term US treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities using bank deposits. However, as interest rates rise, the value of bonds and treasuries decreases. SVB’s bond portfolio began to decline in 2022 when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to fight inflation. If SVB had kept the bonds until they were due to mature, it would have made its capital back.

Previously, Silicon Valley Bank made short-term loans. Instead of using short-term assets to cover their liabilities in 2021, they switched to long-term securities like treasury bonds in order to increase yield. Because they were unable to sell their assets without suffering a significant loss, they were insolvent for months.

Many bank customers withdrew their money when economic considerations affected the IT industry as venture capital began to decline. Due to the fact that these deposits were bound up in long-term investments, SVB lacked the liquidity necessary to liquidate them. They began offering their bonds for sale at a large loss, upsetting buyers and investors. The bank failed 48 hours after revealing the sale of assets.

Traditional Bank Run

People got concerned the bank was short on capital after SVB announced its $1.75 billion capital offering on March 8, 2023. When word of the bank’s lack of funds immediately traveled on social media platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp, panic was sparked and waves of customers began withdrawing their cash. On March 9, following the news of a capital raising, SVB’s stock fell by 60% with some claiming that the social media platform, Twitter, was the cause of the bank heist.

On March 10, Californian officials closed the bank and transferred SVB to the FDIC. Clients of SVB have substantially larger balances than those in personal banking hence why, money quickly ran out during the bank run. The majority of consumers had deposits that exceeded the $250,000 FDIC cap.

Many firms chose to keep funds in their SVB primary account rather than using other accounts, like a money market, to cover expenses. In order to pay their employees and pay their expenses, they required access to their deposits, which were mostly held in their SVB account.

What Has The SVB Collapse Taught Us? 

The future appears questionable in light of SVB and Signature Bank’s failure. Whether or not the panic has diminished is the key question. A domino effect could occur if customers and investors keep selling equities and taking their money out of banks. In this situation, the Fed would find it difficult to continue fighting against inflation, and people might be forced to accept the terrifying reality of living with high prices. The ‘soft landing’ that was predicted now appears like a pipe dream, and a recession could be approaching for the Western world. 

The failure of SVB has brought to light the necessity for banks to have effective risk management procedures in place and for regulators to retain strict oversight to avoid situations similar to this happening again. Additionally, it has shown the financial system’s flaws. A financial institution’s demise can have a significant impact, especially one as significant and well-known as SVB. It may cause customers, stakeholders, and investors to lose faith in the company, which could have an impact on the entire economy. Such a failure can have severe, protracted effects. 

Banks must be proactive in identifying, evaluating, and managing risk. This entails putting into place efficient risk management frameworks, formulating precise statements of risk tolerance, and conducting continuing risk assessments to find possible threats and weaknesses.

To guarantee that banks are operating in a safe and sound way, regulatory oversight is essential in addition to these internal controls. To discover possible vulnerabilities before they become serious difficulties, regulators must uphold a strong supervisory structure that includes routine monitoring, stress testing, and risk assessments.

The Potential Effects Of The SVB Collapse To The APAC Region

Based on the lessons learned from the 2008 financial crisis, these are some general observations about how such an event could affect the APAC region:

Trade: The APAC region has become heavily reliant on exports to the US and other countries. A significant decrease in demand for goods and services from these countries due to a financial crisis like the SVB collapse could negatively impact the region’s economies.

Capital flows: A financial crisis can result in a sudden outflow of capital from affected countries, causing a liquidity crunch and currency devaluation. This can be particularly damaging to countries with high external debt and limited foreign exchange reserves.

Financial markets: A sharp decline in stock markets and other financial assets can lead to a decrease in investor confidence and a drying up of credit, which can further exacerbate economic issues in the APAC region.

Commodity prices: The APAC region is a significant exporter of commodities such as oil, metals, and agricultural products. A financial crisis can result in a decrease in demand for these commodities, leading to lower prices and reduced revenue for exporting countries.

In summary, the potential rippling effects of an SVB crash on the APAC region could include decreased trade, capital outflows, declining financial markets, and lower commodity prices, among other factors. However, the exact impact would depend on various factors, and it is challenging to predict the consequences of SVB’s failure on the APAC region with certainty.

Hong Kong’s Financial Intelligence & Investigation Bureau and ISCA Sign MOU to Advance the Development of Financial Forensics in Asia


25 April 2023

The collaboration between FIIB and ISCA provides a pathway for the conferment of the ISCA Financial Forensic Professional (FFP) credential on FIIB officers.

The Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (FIIB) of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Monday, 24th April to advance the development of financial forensics and widen the talent pool of qualified financial forensic professionals in Hong Kong. This is ISCA’s first MOU with an overseas law enforcement agency.

The MOU was signed by Ms. Lam Man Han, Chief Superintendent of Police, the FIIB of the Hong Kong Police Force and ISCA President, Mr. Teo Ser Luck.

The collaboration between FIIB and ISCA provides a pathway for the conferment of the ISCA Financial Forensic Professional (FFP) credential on FIIB officers.  This credential attests to the financial forensic skillsets and experience of FIIB officers and their competence to testify in court as expert witnesses during trials involving money laundering offenses.

In addition, ISCA will provide remote examinations of ISCA Financial Forensic Accounting Qualification (FFAQ) in Hong Kong for HKPF officers. Developed by ISCA in collaboration with industry experts, the ISCA FFAQ provides specialised training in forensic accounting and investigation, digital forensics, combating financial crime, and professional ethics. Completion of the programme, coupled with the attainment of relevant work experience, will lead to the conferment of the ISCA FFP designation. 

To advance the development of financial forensics in the region, FIIB and ISCA will collaborate on the professional development of financial forensic professionals and outreach efforts to widen the financial forensics talent pool. For instance, subject matter experts from the region will examine financial crime trends, analysis and investigations to create related content and raise awareness of the financial forensics field.  Both parties will also provide resources to explore research areas in financial forensics, support each other’s outreach efforts at events and conferences, collaborate and contribute to research and knowledge resources related to financial forensics.

With the MOU, the FIIB of Hong Kong Police Force aims to strengthen the capabilities of its officers to combat money laundering and terrorist financing activities, demonstrating its commitment in the fight against financial crime, including money laundering and terrorist financing.

In 2022, Hong Kong fraud-related financial crimes (such as e-shopping fraud, email scam, social media / telephone deception) reached a record high, in terms of number  (27 923 cases) and percentage of overall crime (39.9%).  The jump was mainly driven by the upsurge of cases in online shopping scams, employment fraud, investment fraud and telephone deception, with cases in 2022 increasing by 40% to 180%, compared to 2021.   Investment fraud resulted in losses of over HK$1.8 billion and telephone deception cases resulted in losses of HK$1 billion.   Against this backdrop, financial investigators with specialised skills and competence are in increasing demand, to strengthen the capacity, speed, and efficiency in investigating money laundering and related offences.

Initiated by the FIIB, a Money Laundering Expert Cadre (MLEC) was formed in late 2022.  Officers from HKPF and other law enforcement agencies with relevant experience, academic or professional qualifications were selected and trained to be professional witness experts to support frontline investigation teams, by giving expert evidence in court on money laundering typologies and applying for enhanced sentencing in ML cases. 

Chief Superintendent of Hong Kong Police Ms. Lam Man Han said, “The cooperation between FIIB and ISCA will establish comprehensive and solid frameworks and pathways for the acquisition of a recognised financial forensics qualification and the conferment of the FFP credential, which would benefit FIIB officers in combating financial crime.”

ISCA President Mr. Teo Ser Luck said, “We are honoured to play a part in combating financial crime in Asia by partnering with the FIIB of Hong Kong Police Force to further the development of financial forensics. This cross-border collaboration attests to the robustness of the ISCA FFAQ programme and the high regard for the ISCA FFP credential in the region.”

ISCA FFP credential holders are admitted to ISCA membership, which is a testament to their adherence to the highest standards in ethical and professional conduct. They are also committed to ensuring their continuing professional development during their career, including mandatory education and training hours.

In February this year, ISCA signed an MOU with the Singapore Police Force (SPF)’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to streamline the process for CAD officers and relevant SPF officers to attain the ISCA Financial Forensic Professional credential. This included customising the ISCA FFAQ programme for SPF.  In 2021, ISCA signed an MOU with Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to explore a pathway for eligible CPIB officers to be conferred the ISCA FFP credential and to support CPIB officers in pursuing the ISCA FFA Qualification.

UOB & Lazada To Grow Digital Ecosystem In Southeast Asia With Enhanced Financial Services


18 April 2023

Mr Frederick Chin, Head of Group Wholesale Banking and Markets, UOB (left) and Mr James Dong, Chief Executive Officer, Lazada Group (right) at the signing of the MOU between UOB and Lazada.

UOB and Lazada Group have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on retail products and banking solutions for their combined customer base in five key Southeast Asian markets, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. This regional strategic partnership will also see the two industry leaders working together to increase access to financing for e-commerce sellers on the Lazada platform.

This will be Lazada’s first partnership with a bank across a variety of payments and financial services in Southeast Asia, as well as UOB’s first regional collaboration with an e-commerce platform. The partnership will tap on Lazada’s technology and position as a leading Southeast Asian e-commerce platform and UOB’s proven expertise in financial products, best-in-class digital banking services and long-established trust with customers. This will allow both customers and sellers to enjoy better access and enhanced benefits from payment and financial services that best meet their needs.

Mr Frederick Chin, Head of Group Wholesale Banking and Markets, UOB, said, “ASEAN plays a strategic role as an economic powerhouse to the world. As a bank with strong presence in ASEAN, our ambition is to open doors to new business opportunities across the region. Working with an e-commerce partner like Lazada complements our continued effort to bring personalised and innovative solutions to a thriving ASEAN. Through this partnership, consumers and businesses can benefit from seamless financial services that bring about access to rewarding experiences within ASEAN’s dynamic digital landscape.”

Mr James Dong, Lazada Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “Lazada is committed to building an open, accessible ecosystem for Southeast Asia. We are pleased to share this vision with UOB. For consumers, we will offer easy-to-use, convenient and secure payment and financing options to enable their lifestyle needs. For brands and sellers, we are here to help them scale up their businesses and accelerate growth. We are here for the long haul, to achieve sustainable, long-term growth with all our ecosystem partners.”

Enhanced Benefits For Customers

UOB and Lazada customers can look forward to a more rewarding experience when shopping on the e-commerce platform and using lifestyle banking services for their purchases. Singapore customers will be the first to enjoy these benefits. In Singapore, UOB will offer new customers Lazada cashback vouchers worth up to $200 as a welcome gift.

With UOB’s acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses in four ASEAN markets, the Bank will be continuing the partnership of the Citi-Lazada co-brand credit cards in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. In these three markets, the cards will be refreshed as new UOB-Lazada co-brand credit cards later this year with enhanced benefits. UOB and Lazada will look to extend the co-brand credit card partnership to Singapore and Indonesia. Apart from enjoying attractive Lazada rewards all year round, cardholders will gain access to special Lazada deals during mega sale events.

As Lazada expands its localised payments and financial services products throughout the region, the e-commerce platform and UOB also intend to collaborate on cash management and transaction processing services for Lazada sellers across the region.

Improved Financing Services And Access For E-commerce Sellers

The two partners are looking into offering loans to sellers on the Lazada platform through a new digital lending experience. Leveraging Lazada’s seller insights and UOB’s digital banking capabilities with integrated financial supply chain management solutions, the collaboration will focus on giving sellers access to streamlined onboarding, approval and disbursement processes for loans and financing across their businesses. Both parties are working toward a pilot launch this year.

Increased Customer Engagement And Personalisation

UOB and Lazada are committed to offering their combined customer base a seamless and integrated experience tailored to customers’ shopping behaviour on the platform and their individual needs. This partnership will strengthen both parties’ capabilities to deliver personalised rewards to customers across Southeast Asia, to better engage and delight them in their online shopping experience.

MAS To Form Information-Sharing Platform


23 March 2023

A new bill has been introduced in Singapore’s parliament that could lead to an information-sharing platform set up by the local financial regulator.

A new bill has been introduced in Singapore’s parliament that could lead to an information-sharing platform set up by the local financial regulator.

A financial services and markets bill was introduced in Singapore’s parliament on Monday for information-sharing to combat illicit activities such as money laundering, terrorism financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

If passed, the bill will give the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) the power to create an electronic system and outline the circumstances in which the regulator and a suspicious transaction reporting officer can obtain or access such information as well as how they can use it.

Initial Phase

The bill covers the initial phase of the project which will only requires information-sharing on a voluntary basis with a focus on three key commercial banking risks: abuse of shell companies, misuse of trade finance for illicit purposes and proliferation financing.

Eventually, MAS plans to make some aspects of sharing compulsory and extend the platform’s coverage to more areas and financial institutions in later phases.

The MAS platform is named Cosmic (collaborative sharing of money laundering and terrorism financing information and cases) and its framework will be jointly developed with DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, Citibank and HSBC.

Bank-to-Bank Sharing

According to MAS, the Cosmic platform was developed to address the inability to share information about suspicious customer activity between banks.

Financial criminals exploit these ‘information silos’ by making illicit transactions through a web of accounts in different financial institutions and moving from one financial institution to another to avoid detection, the regulator said in a statement.


The Global Banking Crisis Has Little Effect On Philippines


23 March 2023

The BSP said the local banking system remains strong.

Philippine financial authorities expressed optimism on Monday that a deepening crisis in the global banking sector does not pose a significant risk for the local industry and the domestic economy as a whole.

Global financial markets are reeling from a string of bank failures and fears of contagion, with a deal to rescue Credit Suisse and promises of liquidity from central banks doing little to stem fears of a wider crisis in the financial system.

“It does not look like other Global Systemically Important Banks have the same problem, in which case the impact on the global economy, and therefore the Philippines, will not be significant,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla said.

In notes prepared for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the stability of the local banking system following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States, the BSP said the local banking system remains strong.

The sector is also ready to withstand possible shocks posed by the collapse of some U.S. banks, the BSP said, though it added it would continue to closely monitor developments, assess their impact on the banking system and respond accordingly.

“The BSP has long implemented structural reforms to ensure the safety and soundness of banks,” it said.

The BSP has also imposed prudent limits and requirements, including the Basel III reforms on capital and liquidity standards which enable banks to maintain adequate capital and liquidity, as well as strengthened surveillance mechanisms for risk monitoring, it said.

To address any serious liquidity conditions, the BSP said solvent banks can tap emergency loan facilities.

“There’s very little contagion on the Philippine side and in fact it can be a positive in the sense that central banks are likely to ease on hiking of interest rates,” Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said separately.

In remarks made at a forum organised by foreign journalists, Diokno said the BSP could decide to opt for a narrower 25 basis points interest rate hike or keep policy settings unchanged at its meeting on Thursday, amid global uncertainty.

“The option now is not to hike or to hike by 25 basis points,” said Diokno, though he added he is just one of the seven-person policy-making monetary board and that he could be outvoted.

Source: Reuters

Essential Changes That Will Modernize & Simplify Finance Systems


7 February 2023

Businesses need to understand that this transition is unavoidable and that they must act now to be competitive in order to avoid falling victim to the difficulties that the uncertain market will present.

It is more important than ever to anticipate change, act quickly to address global developments, and adjust to changes in consumer and market expectations in the economic and corporate climate of today. The huge task of managing corporate assets and ensuring their proper flow rests with finance departments. But these days, chief financial officers (CFOs) and their staff shoulder more responsibilities in financial companies.

Finance is currently viewed less as a support function and more as a factor in overall strategic development. This implies that other CEOs frequently turn to CFOs for financial and business advice that can actually determine the strategic course of their own firms. It goes without saying that when a business expands, its processes become more intricate. They start to manage more finances, more clients and staff, and more big and small company decisions all at once. The quantity and complexity of the accounting tasks that a company must perform will definitely rise as it grows.

It might be time for businesses to think about investing in finance modernization especially when more people are looking to the business to lead. Automation technology can be used by businesses to simplify their accounting processes, save operating costs, and provide a single, uniform data source for all accounting data.

Transforming Dated Financial Core Systems

Businesses must adopt comprehensive, business-driven modernization that is aware. Although mainframes are heavily utilized by financial organizations, they are unable to keep up with the constant development of rules and high consumer expectations. Remaining stationary is the single thing the sector cannot afford to do. Companies in the financial services and sector must embrace modernity while being risk-aware.

Waiting till the last minute or organizing every step independently simply will not work. Instead, businesses must organize and carry out the full modernisation process as a comprehensive trip based on both technology and business aspects. By using this strategy, it is possible to maintain decades of crucial business logic and benefit from huge amounts of historical data while achieving industry-leading customer experience (CX) and security.

Despite their immense capacity, mainframes hinder financial resources, creativity, and agility. Finding substitutes is a significant concern as mainframe professionals are getting older and retire. Despite the fact that cloud platforms are a crucial part of modernization, it is clear that mainframes have prevented important financial sector organizations from converting to an agile, cloud-based development system.

Due to the risk of damaging crucial business operations, many financial institutions only access the mainframe when strictly essential. However, as the mainframe continues to lag, the company’s CX and security procedures become more obsolete, and the disparity with vanguards widens. Executives must have a thorough plan to embrace the contemporary era and create a gradual and iterative approach to build financial platforms of the future in order to reduce risk while remaining nimble and keeping up with challenges and laws that are always evolving.

Major issues can be swiftly resolved by finding a partner who can manage a mainframe well. Because many mainframe specialists are choosing early retirement or quitting the profession due to the pandemic, there is a substantial risk of talent shortages in sectors including capital markets, banking, and insurance that largely rely on mainframes. The organization will be far less likely to lose seasoned mainframe developers and engineers who are getting harder and harder to replace if the aforementioned partner can give access to qualified mainframe resources.

Business executives can also benefit from the economies of scale and mainframe-as-a-service model offered by their partner, using the savings to fund the following stage of the modernization process. These three pillars will serve as the framework for a conscious modernization program throughout the transformation process. This is a genuine win-win strategy with partners that will let businesses take use of the ecosystem’s value as well as its scale, influence, and approaches for managing costs and risks.

Moving Financial Processes To The Cloud

Adopting the new target cloud-based infrastructures and relocating the mainframe off-site are the next steps. Providers ought to provide a private cloud infrastructure of their own, or they will collaborate with a hyperscaler like AWS, Azure, or Google. The company can move to high-availability zones for ultra-low-latency connections between mainframe and cloud applications if its partner has a good working relationship with the hyperscalers. Operations may be significantly impacted by migration but moving to a cloud system has the ability to lower infrastructure costs, as well as energy use and result in significant performance gains.

Although the idea of “migrating to the cloud” may seem frightening, cloud-based solutions are widely accessible and quite simple to set up. Software systems that operate in the cloud are growing in popularity. These platforms are typically provided using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, in which the cost is based on a subscription. Businesses are moving away from using software that is installed in their on-premises server and toward using cloud-based technologies for finance operations. As a result, the business is exempt from the requirement to buy software upgrades.

Cloud-based workflows make it much easier for the finance staff and the entire business to interact. The cloud platform allows for the access and sharing of documents. The request-and-approval procedures that are so prevalent in financial operations can also be carried out online. Steps in those procedures can be carried out by employees from any place. As a result, procedures that were previously complex and time-consuming, like requests for capital expenditures and vendor approvals, can be carried out more quickly.

The effectiveness of finance procedures will inevitably improve with increasing collaboration and digitization efforts. Increased accuracy is a further benefit, which is unquestionably crucial for finance teams working with real money. Automated workflows can reduce or even completely remove human errors brought on by repetition or calculation error.

A process that is automated can guarantee internal control compliance, which is equally crucial. So, the cloud-based platform may automatically carry out those tasks if a particular request has to be moved to a higher level for approval or if approvers need to be notified of pending requests. This is another example of how cloud computing improves accuracy and efficiency without the trade-off between the two that characterizes manual processes and server-based software.

Simplify Accounting Systems

To achieve expansion, small firms, like medium- and large-scale organizations, must streamline their accounting processes. Failure to establish systems for managing funds might cause unnecessary strain on the company’s revenue and prevent growth. Small firms typically have a small team and may not have the resources to pay for pricey accounting services. Owners of small businesses generally manage everything, from offering services or producing goods to shipping. Nonetheless, compared to other business duties, accounting for businesses is more unique and difficult. You may be headed for failure if you don’t manage your finances well and stick to your budget.

  • Instead of saving paper receipts from each order and customer, think about automating the expenditure tracking process. Scan the receipts and enter them into a database. This way small business owners will not run the risk of losing them once they start scanning and storing each receipt. Losing paper receipts is one thing but falling behind in financial management is quite another.
  • Develop systems that will help the company’s workflow. Businesses will feel more mentally at ease the more systematic their payment and cost tracking is. Reminding every customer to pay on time takes time and could damage relationships. Invest in an invoicing system that automatically sends each client a reminder at the beginning of the billing cycle rather than contacting or mailing each client manually.

The use of technology in financial management will help firms increase their effectiveness, performance, and efficiency in the face of new disruptions and hostilities. Additionally, it will simplify complex transactions, which will enhance contemporary economic activity in terms of number and quality. Moreover, it will improve the security of corporate information and other data that might get exploited. Businesses need to understand that this transition is unavoidable and that they must act now to be competitive in order to avoid falling victim to the difficulties that the uncertain market will present.

Financial executives and business leaders who are interested to find out more about how they can further modify and simplify their financial processes, you can register for DigitalCFO Asia’s Executive Roundtable in partnership with LucaNet here.

AIA Singapore Appoints Heung-min Son As Its First Brand Ambassador Promoting Holistic Wellness Amongst Singaporeans 


17 January 2023

AIA Singapore appoints Tottenham Hotspur player, 
Heung-min Son, as its first Singapore brand ambassador.

AIA Singapore today announced Tottenham Hotspur player Heung-min Son, as its first Singapore brand ambassador. Heung-min Son is a seven time Asian  Footballer of the Year and last season became the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden  Boot. His appointment comes as part of the AIA One Billion movement which aims to engage a billion  people across the region to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030. 

As AIA Singapore’s brand ambassador, Heung-min Son will inspire Singaporeans to live better every  day by promoting holistic wellness in 3 key aspects – physical health, motivation and mental health as  well as financial health – with the aim of championing AIA’s brand promise of enabling the Singapore  community to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.  

“Recognised as one of the greatest ever football players Asia has produced, Son is an icon and  inspiration for many. His journey with football highlights his talent and personal values of self improvement, grit, and determination. His values and current journey as a professional footballer to  never settle for status quo is parallel to AIA Singapore’s constant pursuit to better support customers to  live better by achieving holistic wellness. Together with Son, we look to create greater positive impact  in the lives of Singaporeans in 2023 and beyond”, said Melita Teo, Chief Customer and Digital  Officer, AIA Singapore. 

“Many of the values and my outlook on life is imparted to me from my parents. As a child, they always  inspired me to better myself in all I do, and if I wanted to be the best football player I could be, I would  have to outdo myself by being in the best physical and mental health while also respecting others. To this day, I hold these values dearly that a good frame of mind, a healthy lifestyle and being a team  player are important. I am honoured to be the first ambassador for AIA Singapore as we take steps to  motivate more people to achieve holistic wellness together,” said Heung-min Son. 

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur applauds the fans after their sides defeat during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

With Heung-min Son’s appointment, AIA Singapore reaffirms its commitment in enabling Healthier,  Longer, Better Lives for Singaporeans by engaging communities in Singapore through active living,  conveying the values of teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship as well as how people can care for  their physical health, mental health and financial health holistically, to positively impact lives. 

Heung-min Son will play a key role in championing AIA Singapore’s upcoming initiatives in the calendar  year, to demonstrate the importance of holistic wellness to achieving a Healthier, Longer, Better Life.  These will include activities for customers, AIA insurance representatives, corporate partners as well  as employees of AIA Singapore. 

AIA Singapore has been a long-standing partner of the Tottenham Hotspur as the Club’s Global Principal Partner. Last year, AIA Singapore and Tottenham Hotspur jointly launched the Grant-a-Wish  with AIA Better Lives Fund – a fundraising initiative to raise funds for children, youths and their families in need. Proceeds went towards supporting beneficiaries of the AIA Better Lives Fund through  Community Chest, which included AIA Singapore’s adopted charity partners – Children’s Wishing Well to provide nutritious meals for the young children, supporting their education and helping them to realise  dreams through professional qualifications in non-academic areas. For VIVA Foundation, the donations  funded cancer research projects to create advanced treatments to save lives of children with cancer,  curate programmes that offer holistic care for survivors to do well after treatment and enable better  medical facilities. The funds raised also went to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. 

AIA also brought back the popular AIA Kids’ Football Clinics in November 2022, after a two-year hiatus as an extension of the Grant-A-Wish campaign. With support of Tottenham Hotspur Development  Coaches – Shannon Moloney and Jerome Barker, and coaches from the Football Association of  Singapore (FAS), 500 children had real-time experiences on the pitch and underwent exciting rounds  of drills and mini tournaments. The football clinics encouraged children to lead active lifestyles and  instilling the important ethos of sportsmanship and determination, while also raising funds for the AIA  Better Lives Fund. 100% of the total proceeds raised through registrations went to the Children’s  Wishing Well. 

Border Reopening And Easing Travel Restrictions Bring A Real Sense Of Optimism To Hong Kong Banking Sector


17 January 2023

The need to reduce cost amid a cooler economic outlook poses challenges for banks in 2023.

The reopening of the border and easing of Covid-19 restrictions were major steps on path towards normality in Hong Kong banking sector, while the Chinese Mainland’s ongoing financial reform will solidify Hong Kong’s role as a financial hub for the nation. However, the sector will continue to cope with challenges posed by the global economic environment, such as high interest rates, rising inflation, and the need to reduce costs, according to KPMG’s latest report.

The Hong Kong Banking Outlook 2023 provides thoughts and opinions from KPMG experts on some of the key issues for banks in the year ahead, including regulatory developments in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, business transformation and digitalization, as well as the rapidly evolving areas of ESG and virtual assets.

Jianing Song, Head of Banking and Capital Markets Sector, Hong Kong, KPMG China, says:”The easing of certain Covid restrictions in the Chinese Mainland towards the end of 2022 was extremely welcome news. The lifting of quarantine for arrivals and an end to the ban on outbound travel were major steps on the path towards normality. In Hong Kong, the increasing relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions in the second half of 2022 has been a major boost. With the ending of virtually all travel and social-distancing measures in January, there is now a real sense of optimism that in 2023 we will truly be able to get back to business.”

While banks are benefiting from increased margins attributed to higher interest rates, there will still be an increasing focus on cost reduction in the year ahead to deliver a lower sustainable cost-income ratio, and enhanced profitability, amid a cooler economic outlook.

Paul McSheaffrey, Senior Banking Partner, Hong Kong, KPMG China, says: “The ending of the low-interest-rate environment has been a shock for many businesses and investors leading to increasing bad debts. The US Fed is very focused on bringing US inflation under control through interest rates and will continue to do so aggressively. Most obviously now that interest rates are rising after many years of low margins, we expect margins to widen, which will benefit banks. However, Hong Kong’s economic environment will impact the amount of fee income that banks earn from wealth management activities by their customers.”

Digital innovation is one way that traditional banks can stand out. The year ahead could provide opportunities for big financial players to acquire interesting assets on the fintech side, helping them improve their own digital offerings while also ensuring that the most exciting fintech innovations reach the market.

Banks will have to keep up with regulatory developments in 2023. A key regulatory development in Hong Kong this year will be the introduction of a licensing regime for virtual assets service providers. Alongside new regulations, a key trend in 2023 will be greater use of market surveillance. With the rise of SupTech, supervisory technology, regulators can use data in a sophisticated way to ensure that banks and other financial operators are avoiding exposure to risks.

Hong Kong banks will also experience increased regulation when it comes to climate risk management. Increased disclosure is becoming mandatory and hence, banks with net zero commitments are expected to pivot their focus from reducing their own emissions to also financing emission reduction in the real economy.

KPMG China believes, as a global financial centre with unique inherent advantages, Hong Kong has served as the gateway throughout the Chinese Mainland’s opening up over more than 40 years, and that role will continue. While the year ahead will be challenging for the banking sector, Hong Kong’s standing as an international financial hub will not diminish.

International banks are continuing to find new opportunities in the Chinese Mainland as regulatory changes to open the sector over the past few years take effect. The range of products that foreign banks in China can offer, such as local public custody licenses, has increased. In addition, many licensing procedures have been simplified. However, rising compliance costs associated with these and other new regulations will add to the challenges for foreign banks in maintaining profitability and growth momentum.

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