Business News

Unveiling the Future of Construction in Southeast Asia: Data Strategies, Technology Adoption, and Industry Optimism Explained


8 June 2023

Explore the challenges and opportunities surrounding data strategies, technology adoption, and the overall optimism driving the sector forward.

Procore Technologies, Inc., a global leader in construction management software, has just released its highly anticipated annual report titled “How We Build Now: Technology Trends Shaping and Shifting Construction – Southeast Asia 2023.” This groundbreaking report presents crucial insights gathered from construction decision makers across Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, shedding light on the industry’s sentiments, challenges, and growth opportunities.

Data Management Gap Hinders Construction Confidence

The report reveals that while construction professionals in Southeast Asia acknowledge the pivotal role of technology and data in their businesses, they remain hesitant about their data strategies. An overwhelming 99% of respondents unanimously agreed that improved data management can benefit their businesses, with an estimated average potential saving of 22% of total project spend through more efficient data handling. Surprisingly, only 6% of companies surveyed have laid the groundwork for a comprehensive data strategy. Moreover, despite 77% of companies planning to design and implement a data strategy in the next 12 months, more than half of them (52%) express only moderate confidence in their ability to do so.

Tom Karemacher, the head of the Asia Pacific region at Procore, emphasized, “Our research clearly shows that construction professionals in the region grasp the potential of data and analytical insights to drive better business outcomes and safeguard their enterprises. However, many struggle to develop clear data strategies.” Karemacher further urged software vendors to play a more significant role in facilitating this transformative journey by demonstrating the return on investment and justifying the indispensability of construction technology and data management. This, in turn, will foster the adoption of innovative solutions that unlock unparalleled value for the industry.

Construction Professionals Eager to Embrace Technology

Despite the challenges surrounding data utilization, construction professionals in Southeast Asia remain committed to their digital transformation journeys. Respondents cited several benefits of technology adoption, including improved cost management (42%), reduced reliance on human labor (39%), resource efficiency through fewer errors or rework (38%), enhanced build quality (38%), and increased project handling capacity (38%). 

In a striking revelation, 77% of businesses surveyed expressed their intention to increase spending on construction technologies as a proportion of their annual budgets. Interestingly, younger businesses under 10 years old exhibited greater enthusiasm for embracing technology (81%), compared to more established enterprises over 10 to 20 years (71%) and those exceeding 20 years (68%).

Technologies Driving Change in the Construction Sector

The report identifies the most significant drivers of change in the construction industry for the next three years. Topping the list are construction management platforms (55%), followed by payment technologies (38%), pre-fabrication (34%), big data (33%), and next-generation Building Information Modeling (BIM) (30%).

Optimism Prevails in Southeast Asia’s Construction Industry

The surveyed construction professionals expressed overall optimism about Southeast Asia’s construction industry outlook. An impressive 88% of respondents expressed confidence in the market conditions over the next 12 months. This optimism stems from their expectations of an increase in both the number of projects (73%) and their respective value (71%) during the same period.

Respondents emphasized the growing importance of risk management in protecting their bottom lines. Nearly 40% of them revealed plans to reconsider contracting models to safeguard margins, while 37% considered adopting new payment methods, such as early payments at reduced margins. Persistent challenges, including the rising costs of raw materials and equipment (44%) and securing competitive bids and tenders at sustainable margins (32%), further highlighted the need for a dedicated focus on risk management.

Tom Karemacher concluded, “The ‘How We Build Now’ report serves as a research tool to reflect on the current issues affecting the industry. Through this report, we aim to inspire new conversations and showcase how construction leaders are bridging the gap between challenges and solutions.”

Additional Key Findings

The report also delves into other notable findings, including:

Wait-and-see approach to technology adoption: 40% of respondents prefer to wait until technologies are more established and proven before adopting them.

Time wasted on rework: On average, 1 in 5 project hours remains wasted on rework, hindering productivity and efficiency.

Workplace diversity and inclusion: The construction industry still needs to improve workplace diversity and inclusion, with women representing a minority in executive (25%), site manager (24%), and team leader (27%) roles.

Need for greater emphasis on sustainability: Only 51% of respondents believe that the construction industry needs to do more to adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable building practices.For further insights and detailed findings, the complete “How We Build Now: Technology Trends Shaping and Shifting Construction – Southeast Asia 2023” report can be downloaded here.

SaaS-Powered Financial Institutions Outpace Industry Peers, Bouncing Back 2.5 Times Faster


7 June 2023

Research by Mambu shows that financial institutions operating on a true SaaS platform recover from market disruptions at an astounding rate.

In a study conducted by cloud banking platform Mambu, it has been revealed that financial institutions (FIs) operating on a true Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform are capable of rebounding from market disruptions nearly 2.5 times faster than their industry peers.

The comprehensive report titled “Turning Turbulence into Triumph” explores how personal lenders, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) lenders, and neobanks have successfully navigated disruptive events over the past three years. Furthermore, the research sheds light on the strategies financial institutions can employ to enhance their resilience in the face of future challenges.

The study’s analysis clearly demonstrates that FIs powered by SaaS technology exhibit greater resilience, enabling them to weather market shocks with more ease and swiftly regain momentum, as exemplified during the tumultuous pandemic period.

In 2019, financial institutions utilizing a true SaaS platform achieved an average revenue growth of 47%. When the pandemic struck in 2020, this growth figure dipped to 14%. Although there was a temporary decline, it still far surpassed the performance of other comparable financial institutions, which experienced a meager 1% growth during the same year.

Remarkably, SaaS FIs made an impressive comeback in 2021, with a growth rate of 34% compared to a mere 10% growth among their non-SaaS counterparts.

William Dale, Regional Vice President APAC at Mambu, emphasized the significance of these benchmarking findings, stating, “The data highlights how SaaS technology has enabled financial institutions worldwide to fortify their resilience, shielding them from severe economic shocks and facilitating continued growth in the face of ongoing change. Moreover, the advantages of adaptability come at a relatively low cost. Leveraging a SaaS platform reduces core operating expenses, freeing up additional funds for product innovation, ultimately enhancing the customer experience, while simultaneously building resilience that aids banks in retaining and attracting new customers.”

The study also identified a U-shaped recovery pattern among SaaS-powered financial institutions operating in the personal lending, SME lending, and neobank sectors.

The most significant disparity in growth was observed in the personal lending sector, where traditional upper tier lenders witnessed a decline in loan growth from 3% in 2019 to a staggering -22% in 2020. In contrast, their SaaS-powered counterparts experienced a much milder decline, with loan growth decreasing from 52% to 44% over the same period.

SME lenders exhibited stronger resilience compared to their personal lending counterparts, as those operating on a SaaS core achieved an annual loan growth rate of 7% in 2020. Traditional SME lenders did not reach this level of growth until 2021 when SaaS-powered SME lenders had already surged ahead with a growth rate of 28%.

The study’s benchmarks were developed using internal Mambu data on the annual financial results of existing customers, combined with publicly available financial reports from external sources such as S&P Capital IQ. The data encompasses the years 2019, 2020, and 2021 across EMEA, APAC, and LATAM regions.

These findings underline the transformative impact of the pandemic on the banking industry, illustrating that financial institutions built on a SaaS core are better positioned to convert disruption into commercial opportunities, setting the stage for future success.

To read the full Turning turbulence into triumph report, please click here.

Wolters Kluwer Receives Customers’ Choice Recognition for Financial Planning Software in Gartner Peer Insights


Ninety-seven percent of verified end-users of CCH Tagetik are Willing to Recommend the comprehensive corporate performance management (CPM) platform.

Global professional information, software solutions, and services provider, Wolters Kluwer, is proud to announce its recognition as a Customers’ Choice in the 2023 Gartner Peer Insights Voice of the Customer for Financial Planning Software report. This acknowledgment highlights the exceptional performance of CCH Tagetik, Wolters Kluwer’s comprehensive corporate performance management (CPM) platform. An impressive 97% of verified end-users expressed their willingness to recommend CCH Tagetik based on 47 reviews as of March 31, 2023.

The 2023 Gartner Peer Insights Voice of the Customer for Financial Planning Software report evaluates software vendors based on valuable feedback from verified end-users. This peer perspective, combined with detailed individual reviews, supplements Gartner’s expert research and significantly influences organizations’ purchasing decisions. Vendors placed in the upper-right quadrant of the “Voice of the Customer” quadrants receive the esteemed Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice distinction, symbolized by a Customers’ Choice badge. These recognized vendors not only meet but also exceed the market-average Overall Experience and User Interest and Adoption.

This latest peer-recognition builds upon Wolters Kluwer’s previous leadership position as a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Financial Planning Software, where CCH Tagetik Budgeting, Planning, and Forecasting software were evaluated based on its Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision.

Read genuine feedback from verified end-user professionals about CCH Tagetik on Gartner Peer Insights. Key excerpts include:

  • “Great software. High flexibility.”
  • “Finally a real user-owned planning tool for finance pros!!”
  • “Great software, outstanding support team.”
  • “Automation, standardization, efficiency, and financial intelligence! Excellent CPM tool.”

Ralf Gärtner, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Corporate Performance Solutions at Wolters Kluwer, commented:

“We view this Customers’ Choice recognition and the remarkable 97% Willingness to Recommend rating as a testament to the trust our customers have in the comprehensive capabilities of CCH Tagetik. It also reflects our unwavering commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience, from sales to deployment and ongoing support.”

Gartner Peer Insights Disclaimer
Gartner, Voice of the Customer for Financial Planning Software, Peer Contributors, 29 May 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, MAGIC QUADRANT and PEER INSIGHTS are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner Peer Insights content consists of the opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences with the vendors listed on the platform, should not be construed as statements of fact, nor do they represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in this content nor makes any warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this content, about its accuracy or completeness, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Revolutionizing Global Payroll With Cutting-Edge Enhancements to Simplify Cross-Border Payments


1 June 2023

Nium’s latest payroll payment solution upgrades offer simplified global growth for payroll platforms worldwide, with expanded coverage and innovative features to streamline cross-border transactions and empower businesses.

In a groundbreaking development, Nium, the leader in real-time global payments, has bolstered its market-leading payroll payments solution to cater to the intricate requirements of payroll platforms across the globe. This move by Nium aims to simplify the complexities of global expansion for a majority of payroll platforms, including Panther, an eminent provider of comprehensive global employment, payroll, benefits, and contractor software that seamlessly integrates with HR technology stacks.

With an expanded network and currency coverage spanning Canada, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific, Nium’s enhanced payroll solution offers several new features and improvements:

  1. Foreign Exchange (FX) Transparency: This feature grants end-to-end control over foreign exchange, ensuring transparent costs with a single clear FX markup and a low per-transaction fee. It empowers clients to manage costs at scale by scheduling bulk conversions, locking FX rates to mitigate fluctuations, and configuring fees at the customer level for increased flexibility.
  2. Beneficiary Pre-screen and Confirmation of Payee: By verifying payee information, this enhancement minimizes potential returns and facilitates a quick and smooth payment process.
  3. Scheduled Payouts: Clients can now conveniently disburse payments to their workforce on specified dates, providing predictability and enabling employees to anticipate their salary payouts accurately.
  4. Direct Debit in the US, UK, and EU: Platform clients can pull funds from customers’ primary bank accounts into their Nium wallets to facilitate payroll payouts. This feature improves cash flow and reduces friction, ultimately enhancing the overall efficiency of the payroll process.

The global payroll outsourcing market, valued at $9.9 billion in 2021, is expected to reach $19.5 billion by 2031, growing at a robust CAGR of 7.2% according to U.S.-based Allied Market Research. As companies increasingly seek to hire across borders, the complexities and costs associated with managing remote workers pose significant challenges. Third-party payroll platforms have emerged as a solution, and 80% of companies consider transparent foreign exchange rates crucial for such providers. By offering transparent fees, Nium empowers its clients with greater control over their finances.

Robin Gandhi, CPO of Nium, emphasizes the complexity of global payroll, stating, “Every country has different regulations, including tax laws, employment laws, and data privacy laws, which make the compliance process tricky, and that’s what payroll platforms do best. However, getting money to every employee or contractor on payday in their preferred account, on-time, and across multiple geographies is not easy. With our global payments network and payroll-specific functionality, we make payroll seamless, so platforms don’t have to worry about the technical and legal lift to send money across the world, knowing that their employees will have access to funds when they need them.”

Matt Redler, CEO and Co-founder of Panther, attests to the reliability and efficiency of Nium’s payroll solution, stating, “We trust Nium to move funds reliably, quickly, and compliantly around the world and across different corridors. We consider their payroll solution a trusted component of our engine. Specifically, their transparent FX capabilities allow us to price our FX revenue stream in a competitive way. We’re excited about Nium’s payroll enhancements and our continued partnership.”

Nium’s payroll solution goes beyond the ordinary, offering a comprehensive suite of products that empower global payroll platforms and businesses to seamlessly onboard, transact, and manage payroll for employees and contractors worldwide. The solution encompasses competitive foreign exchange, built-in compliance, real-time payments, security offerings, zero-deduction wire transfers, and extensive market coverage. Recognizing that payroll is not merely a transactional process but a mission-critical money movement that impacts lives, Nium positions itself as a trustworthy partner for businesses. By leveraging Nium’s global payment platform, platforms and businesses can confidently focus on global growth, achieve improved operational efficiency, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Hong Kong Stock Exchange Unveils Game-Changing Climate Disclosures


29 May 2023

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) sets the stage for a transparency revolution with its groundbreaking proposal to enhance climate-related disclosures under the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework.

In a groundbreaking move towards greater environmental transparency, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) has published a consultation paper seeking market feedback on proposals aimed at enhancing climate-related disclosures within the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. The proposed changes, outlined in the consultation paper, have the potential to reshape the way companies operating in Hong Kong report their climate-related risks and opportunities.

The SEHK’s key proposal is the mandatory inclusion of climate-related disclosures in issuers’ ESG reports, aligning them with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Climate Standard. This standard, consisting of four pillars – Governance, Strategy, Risk Management, and Metrics and Targets – aims to provide a comprehensive framework for effective climate disclosure.

Under the proposed Governance pillar, issuers would be required to disclose their governance structure and management approach, including the role of the board and management in assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities. Additionally, issuers must outline the responsibilities of each party and establish mechanisms for regular board and committee updates on climate-related issues.

The Strategy pillar represents a crucial aspect of climate disclosure, requiring issuers to comprehensively disclose identified climate risks and opportunities. This includes an assessment of the impact of climate change on the financial position, performance, and cash flows of businesses, as well as the disclosure of transition plans and methodologies used for determining climate resilience through scenario analysis.

In the Risk Management pillar, issuers would disclose their process for assessing and prioritizing climate-related risks, along with the risk-assessment tools employed. Furthermore, issuers must integrate potential and emerging climate risks into their overall risk management approach, acknowledging the significance of climate risks within their broader risk landscape.

The Metrics and Targets pillar focuses on the quantification of climate-related data. Issuers would be required to provide specific details such as absolute gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, covering scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 emissions. GHG emissions must be calculated following the GHG Protocol or other protocols mandated by local legislation. Issuers must also report the percentage of assets or business activities vulnerable to climate-related risks and aligned with opportunities, as well as the capital expenditure, financing, or investment directed towards climate-related risks and opportunities. Additional requirements include disclosing internal carbon prices and the incorporation of climate-related considerations into remuneration policies.

To ensure a smooth transition, issuers must prepare for disclosing climate-related information according to the updated ESG Code starting from 1 January 2024. Acknowledging the complexity of certain provisions, the Code allows for interim provisions, offering a shorter or simpler version of specific disclosures during the first two reporting years. Issuers utilizing interim provisions must demonstrate work plans, progress, and timetables for implementing the mandated disclosures.

Max Tsang, Director of GreenCo, a leading sustainability consulting firm, recommends that companies familiarize themselves with the new requirements and initiate preliminary work well in advance. Tsang emphasizes the importance of early preparation due to the complexity and resource requirements involved in fully complying with the proposed disclosures.

Stephanie Chan, a seasoned consultant at GreenCo, highlights the significance of the rebranding of Appendix 27 from the ESG Reporting Guide to the ESG Code, emphasizing its mandatory nature. Issuers will no longer be able to evade stricter regulations by providing general and brief explanations. Chan further notes that increasing investor demand and stakeholder expectations are driving companies to enhance their ESG disclosures, thereby improving transparency, reputation, and brand value.

GreenCo, with its expertise in preparing climate-related disclosures across various industries, stands ready to support companies in meeting the proposed requirements. Their team of professionals, equipped with specialized GHG calculation tools, ensures comprehensive and accurate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important to note that the proposed changes mentioned above are currently under consultation and subject to finalization. Interested parties are encouraged to provide feedback by submitting a questionnaire on the HKEX website before 14 July 2023.

India Takes the Lead in Fintech Sector Investments, Igniting a Global Frenzy


26 May 2023

India’s fintech sector has emerged as a global powerhouse, attracting massive investments and reshaping the landscape of alternative lending, digital banking, payments, and e-wallets.

In a groundbreaking revelation, the global fintech industry has amassed a staggering total of USD 53.3 billion throughout its history, revolutionizing the alternative lending, digital banking, payments and transfers, and e-wallet sectors. Astonishingly, these fintech companies have raked in a remarkable USD 17.8 billion in revenue, showcasing their immense potential for growth and profitability. The impressive rate of return, calculated by dividing the total revenue by the total funding, stands at approximately 33.4%, translating to an average of 33.4 cents earned per dollar attracted annually.

A deep dive into the geographic distribution of funds reveals that India has emerged as the frontrunner, attracting an enormous USD 25.6 billion (48%) in investments. Following closely behind is Singapore, which has garnered USD 14.7 billion (27.6%) in funding, solidifying its position as a major player in the fintech landscape. Notably, Indonesia has secured USD 7.5 billion (14.1%) in funds, while the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia have received USD 2.4 billion (3.4%), USD 1.8 billion (3.4%), and USD 966 million (1.8%) respectively. In contrast, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have witnessed comparatively lesser inflows of USD 240 million (0.5%), USD 24 million (0.05%), and USD 307,000 (0.001%).

Analysis of the latest available data from 2021 reveals India, Indonesia, and Singapore as the top-earning countries in the fintech industry. India’s fintech sector has generated an astounding USD 10 billion (57.2%) in revenue, followed by Indonesia with USD 2.4 billion (13.7%) and Singapore with USD 1.9 billion (10.6%). Vietnam has also made a noteworthy contribution with revenue amounting to USD 1.7 billion (9.4%), while the Philippines stands at USD 875 million (4.9%). Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Pakistan have contributed USD 287 million (1.6%), USD 283 million (1.6%), and USD 167 million (0.9%) respectively, with Sri Lanka reporting the lowest revenue of USD 24 million (0.1%).

Remarkably, India continues to witness the highest concentration of investment stages, with a remarkable 53.8% of all fintech companies operating within its borders. Singapore closely trails behind, hosting 14.3% of these innovative companies, while Indonesia follows suit with an 8% share. A closer look at investment activity reveals that the alternative lending sector commands the highest attention, housing 45.8% of all fintech companies. The payments and transfers sector closely follows, accommodating 38.8% of the companies, while digital banking and e-wallets hold 8.5% and 6.9% respectively.

As the global fintech revolution continues to gather momentum, these groundbreaking figures highlight the immense growth potential and profitability of the industry. With India leading the charge and Singapore making significant strides, the fintech sector is reshaping the financial landscape and paving the way for a digitally-driven future.

Stay tuned for more updates on this transformative industry as it unfolds. The full report is available by clicking on the link: 

ChatGPT Takes Esker’s Customer Service Solution Suite to New Heights

25 May 2023

Discover how ChatGPT is revolutionizing Esker’s Customer Service Solution Suite and enhancing the B2B customer experience with faster and more accurate responses.

In a groundbreaking move, Esker, the renowned global cloud platform specializing in AI-driven process automation solutions for Finance, Procurement, and Customer Service, has unveiled its latest enhancement to the Customer Service solution suite. On the 24th of May, Esker announced the integration of ChatGPT, a cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) tool powered by Esker Synergy AI technology, to bolster its customer service capabilities.

With ChatGPT seamlessly integrated into Esker’s Customer Inquiry Management solution, Customer Service (CS) professionals now have an invaluable resource to efficiently handle a wide array of customer inquiries, including order status, availability, pricing requests, and product information questions. This revolutionary AI-powered addition equips CS teams with the ability to promptly respond to customer requests, thereby boosting customer satisfaction while enabling them to focus on more impactful and proactive outbound efforts.

One common challenge faced by CSRs is the management of shared inboxes, which often leads to inquiries slipping through the cracks and leaves frustrated customers in their wake. However, Aurélien Coq, Customer Service Product Manager at Esker, explains, “ChatGPT analyzes inbound customer emails, queries different systems, and generates an answer for the CSR to use. This saves incredible amounts of time, freeing up CSRs to perform more fulfilling tasks, and customers get what they expect—a quick and helpful response.”

By leveraging AI-supported technologies, Esker streamlines processes associated with retrieving accurate data from various systems such as ERP, email, CRM, and chat, significantly reducing handling time from hours to mere minutes. With this innovative solution, Esker aims to eliminate the laborious and error-prone tasks that often burden CSRs, allowing them to provide enhanced customer experiences.

Crucially, ChatGPT’s responses are meticulously reviewed, edited if necessary, and approved by CSRs before being delivered directly to customers. This human supervision ensures that customers continue to interact with human representatives, while ChatGPT serves as a valuable aid, offering suitable suggestions based on available data to facilitate the CS teams in providing prompt and accurate responses.

Recent advancements in NLP technology, bolstered by AI capabilities, now enable extensive comprehension and generation of natural language text, alongside sentiment analysis. ChatGPT’s ability to understand and respond to inquiries in a conversational dialogue format makes it an indispensable tool for CS departments. Esker’s integration of ChatGPT with various back-office systems, such as ERPs, CRMs, transport management, and warehousing systems, allows for efficient email categorization, key data extraction, and sentiment analysis. Acting as a two-way translator between human language and system language, ChatGPT facilitates controlled communication between customers and internal systems, all under human supervision.

Aurélien Coq further emphasizes, “While not intended to replace a CSR, ChatGPT is an incredibly useful tool that improves the customer service workflows and the customer experience.”

For over a decade, Esker has been at the forefront of bundling innovative AI technologies, consistently evolving its solutions to address real-world business challenges within Customer Service automation. By automating repetitive and error-prone tasks, Esker empowers CSRs to dedicate their efforts to building exceptional customer experiences.

Excitingly, Esker plans to expand the utilization of ChatGPT beyond its Customer Service solution suite, extending its impact to other solutions within the Source-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash suites. This move demonstrates Esker’s unwavering commitment to harnessing AI technologies to revolutionize various aspects of business operations.

As Esker pioneers this revolutionary integration of AI and NLP technologies, the future of customer service is undergoing a transformative shift. With ChatGPT at their side, Esker’s customers can expect faster, more accurate responses and an unparalleled customer experience.

Turning the Tide: Companies Slash Payment Delays in 2022 & Anticipate Soaring Economic Growth in 2023


23 May 2023

According to the latest survey by Coface, a reduced number of firms experienced payment delays in 2022; only 40% of respondents reported overdue payments, marking a significant decline from the previous year’s figure of 53%.

In the face of an economic slowdown caused by the Omicron variant and subsequent lockdown measures, Chinese businesses have shown resilience by offering longer credit terms to their customers. According to Bernard Aw, Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at Coface, average payment terms in China increased from 77 days in 2021 to 81 days in 2022. This adjustment was necessary as customers required more time to make payments amidst liquidity constraints and mobility restrictions that disrupted payment processes.

Furthermore, this shift towards longer payment terms resulted in fewer reported payment delays. The proportion of respondents reporting overdue payments fell from 53% in 2021 to 40% in 2022, marking the smallest share in the past five years. These findings indicate that businesses are adapting to the challenging economic conditions and striving to maintain smoother payment processes.

Following the results, Bernard Aw, Chief Economist, Asia Pacific, Coface commented, “China Payment Survey showed Chinese businesses were given a breather in making payments through longer credit terms amid an economic slowdown and strict COVID-related restrictions. More time to make payments helped to reduce the incidence of payment delays in 2022. However, there remain some sectors that appeared most vulnerable to financing risks, such as chemicals and wood. This is because the combination of higher energy and raw material prices, production disruption and weaker demand has pressured the sector’s liquidity conditions. While China’s reopening and rebound in 2023 is a positive development, the recovery is expected to be modest, indicating that companies’ payment behaviour will remain cautious.”

Optimism Grows as China Transitions from Zero-Covid Policy

Looking ahead, survey respondents expressed increasing optimism regarding economic prospects in the next 12 months, as the Chinese government moved away from its zero-Covid policy by the end of 2022. The share of respondents anticipating higher economic growth rose significantly from 68% in 2021 to 84% in 2022.

Funding Risk Heightened in Chemicals and Wood Sectors; Construction Sector Faces Pressure

The survey also highlighted specific sectors that faced increased funding risk and longer payment delays. In the chemical sector, 34% of respondents reported ultra-long payment delays exceeding 10% of their annual turnover, a rise of 8 percentage points from 2021. This sector exhibited the highest proportion of such delays among all 13 sectors surveyed. Similarly, the wood sector experienced a deterioration in financial health, with 40% of respondents reporting an increase in the value of overdue payments compared to 33% in 2021.

Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to ease its stance towards real estate developers in late 2022, the construction sector continued to face challenges. With payment delays of 96 days, it recorded the longest payment delays amid a correction in the housing market.

Commodity Prices and Insufficient Workforce Impact Cash Flow

The survey revealed that rising raw material prices were a leading cause of payment delays, cited by 30% of respondents, up from 23% in 2021. The surge in commodity prices following the conflict in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain pressures resulted in significant increases in input costs, adding strain to companies’ finances. Additionally, the impact of an insufficient workforce due to lockdown measures was identified as the top factor affecting cash flow and sales by 61% of respondents, highlighting the challenges faced by businesses in maintaining productivity.

Overall Improvement in Economic Expectations

Despite the hardships faced in 2022, respondents displayed a greater sense of optimism regarding sales performance and cash flow in the coming year. Those anticipating improved sales performance rose from 44% in 2021 to 50% in 2022, while the proportion projecting improved cash flow increased more significantly, from 27% to 49%.

As the Chinese government shifts its approach away from a zero-Covid policy, respondents’ positive outlook on economic growth has also grown. The share of respondents expecting higher economic growth surged from 68% in 2021 to 84%. Coface forecasts China’s GDP growth to accelerate between 4% and 5% in 2023, signaling potential recovery and progress in the coming year.

Amidst the challenges brought by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Chinese businesses have shown resilience and adaptability. Despite sector-specific funding risks and ongoing supply chain pressures, the overall outlook points towards a brighter future for China’s business landscape in 2023, accompanied by projected economic growth.

For more information about Coface, visit

Workday’s Cutting-Edge Solutions Propel BINUS Group’s Digital Transformation into the Future


23 May 2023

In a groundbreaking development, Workday, the eminent leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, has made a momentous announcement today. BINA NUSANTARA (BINUS) Group, one of Indonesia’s premier private education institutions, has successfully deployed Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workday Financial Management. These strategic implementations will serve as catalysts for BINUS Group’s relentless expansion and exponential growth. Moreover, the highly anticipated integration of Workday Adaptive Planning is slated to go live later this year.

With over 30 thriving business units and a workforce of more than 3,500 employees spanning 20 offices and campuses, BINUS Group has set an ambitious vision to establish itself as a world-class educational powerhouse by 2035. Embracing digitalization as a pivotal priority, BINUS Group seeks to revolutionize its workforce, ensuring optimal resource utilization, efficiency, and unparalleled business agility to thrive in today’s ever-evolving landscape.

Stephen Santoso, the esteemed Chief Operating Officer of BINUS Group, affirmed, “It is crucial to our business strategy to accelerate digital transformation in today’s ever-evolving environment. I am certain that we are taking the right step forward towards transforming our workforce through achieving better resource optimization and efficiency to gain greater business agility and resilience. As we continue to deliver on our 2035 strategic plan, we are excited to be partnering with Workday to improve our business processes and empower our employees to thrive in their roles. With Workday’s intuitive and user-friendly interface, we are sure that BINUSIANS will have an enhanced employee experience. With that, we will be able to work better, smarter, and more efficiently in this age of digital transformation.”

Stephen further added that “Managing and running a large organization efficiently can be complex and easily slowed down by inefficient processes and legacy platforms. With Workday’s solutions, we have been able to improve our generation of reports, track inquiries, and eliminate low value-added tasks. Our finance team, for example, can focus less on transaction processing but more on analysis and action. With the synergies achieved through our digital transformation efforts, I’m certain BINUS can better position itself as a world-class education institution.”

Recognizing the changing paradigms of work, BINUS Group is embracing modern and hybrid work models. Thanks to the integration of Workday’s mobile app, employees now have seamless access to real-time data across various functions, including compensation, time tracking, talent, and performance. The era of “anytime, anywhere” access has truly arrived for BINUS Group.

Notably, the adoption of Workday’s cloud-based solution and cutting-edge technologies has propelled a remarkable digital finance transformation within the organization. From expeditiously generating comprehensive business reports to automating previously arduous and repetitive tasks such as financial planning and reporting, employees now possess the invaluable freedom to dedicate their time to more value-added endeavors.

By virtue of Workday’s unified platform, BINUS Group has effortlessly simplified the complexities associated with organizational management. This powerful solution empowers both business leaders and teams to make informed decisions, thereby accelerating BINUS Group’s path to future growth and unmatched success.

Pannie Sia, the General Manager for ASEAN at Workday, expressed enthusiasm at the partnership, stating, “We are glad to be supporting BINUS Group as their trusted technology partner in realizing their digital transformation goals. Implementing the right technology infrastructure to leverage data-driven insights will enable BINUS Group to face the challenges, opportunities, and risks of today’s dynamic business landscape. Supported by strong digital architecture, BINUS Group will be able to strengthen its workforce and operational resilience to ensure its long-term success and growth.”

This remarkable collaboration between Workday and BINUS Group heralds a new era of digital transformation, positioning the organization as an unrivaled force within the education sector. The future is now, and BINUS Group is leading the way with the cutting-edge solutions offered by Workday.

Just like BINUS Group, businesses should embrace the future today and embark on a transformative path to unlock the full potential of their organization. With real-time data access, seamless mobile app integration, and advanced technologies, BINUS Group is empowered to thrive in the modern, hybrid work models and drive digital finance transformation.

For more information about Workday, visit

More Companies Go For Bigger Collaborative Spaces in Post-Pandemic Offices


23 May 2023

ISG, JLL Asia Pacific weigh in on fit-out trends, costs and near-future challenges.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced office lockdowns, employees kept the image of their individual desks planted at their own respective work spaces. Since then, many companies have ditched that concept of a fixed office setup.

Kelvin Hon, general manager of construction, fit-out, and engineering company, ISG, said returning employees will find that their companies have transformed their offices into more collaborative spaces.

“Creative, collaborative spaces are getting bigger and they tend to take up more space within an office. Fixed offices or fixed work desks, I find those features on a decline,” Hon told Singapore Business Review.

Height adjustable stations and hot desking — whereby a number of desks are allocated for a group of workers on rotation instead of individual assignment — are also on the rise, he said.

For meeting or discussion rooms, Hon said companies want them to cater to video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

“Basically, the new philosophy is around facilitating better communication among teams , rather than working in silos or stations,” he said, adding that since more companies are focusing on effective group communication, the finishes of new spaces tend to create the “collaborative” vibe.

Hon said companies also prefer furniture that is functional, which is why there is a growing preference for ergonomic chairs.

In terms of location, many companies still aim for the central business district. But Hon also observed a “decentralisation” in terms of companies served by ISG that are moving their “back office functions” out of the city center.

Martin Hinge, JLL Asia Pacific executive managing director for project and development services, said their clients have been investing “in better quality space to pivot the office to drive collaboration.”

JLL’s survey showed that 56% of companies plan to have open and collaborative office space with no dedicated areas by 2025.

“As evidence of the trend to shift offices toward more collaborative environments, we see a reduction in spend on traditional office elements such as partitions,” Hinge said.

In a separate survey, JLL also found that companies believe that collaborative working is one of the primary purposes of office space.

“Therefore, the office space should be designed as a destination for employees as part of their hybrid workstyle, to encourage both new and current employees to spend time in the office. Furniture solutions that offer the flexibility of configuration help support collaborative working and are essential to achieve this goal.” Hinge said.

‘Fit-Out Styles’

According to JLL, there are three styles for fitting out offices: progressive, moderate, and traditional.

These three styles differ with the percentage of enclosed offices, traditional benching, and space given to meeting rooms and agile or collaborative work zones, explained Hinge.

Amongst the three, ISG’s Hon said that whilst the progressive style captures the imagination of many companies, a significant proportion do still adopt a more moderate fit out. 

The reason for this, Hon explained, is that the moderate style caters to “a number of job functions” and so changing workstations, for which progressive fit-outs are designed, may not be suitable.

“Humans, being creatures of habit, tend to regularly favour the same particular hot desks and lockers. That’s why many companies take the moderate function, which is whereby it’s a mix of the progressive and traditional, rather than just go for the full on progressive option,” he said.

Based on the JLL report, the progressive style has an open floor plan with no enclosed offices, with traditional benching covering 60% of the floor area and the remaining space given to meeting rooms and agile or collaborative work zones.

The moderate style, on the other hand, has a “substantially open plan with 10% enclosed offices, with traditional methods of working covering 70% of the floor area, with the balance given to meeting rooms and agile or collaborative work zones.”

Dressing to specification fit-out costs for the progressive and moderate styles range between $108-133 (US$81-US$100) per sq ft and $144-$177 (US$108-US$133) per sq ft, respectively. 

In Singapore, the average fit-out cost for a progressive style is $192 (US$144) per sq ft., whilst a moderate fit-out will cost an average of $164 (US$123) per sq ft.

Rising Fit-Out Costs

Hon said the rising cost of fitting out spaces in Singapore can be attributed to rising material costs and the labour crunch, amongst others.

“The rising cost of materials is intrinsically linked to that growth in demand and further pressure to reduce programme timeframes, alongside some limitations on the supply of these products and materials in the market,” Hon pointed out.

Looking ahead, Hon believes fit-out costs will not decline anytime soon. “The sheer volume of demand means that we can expect prices to remain high until the market corrects back to a more normal condition,” Hon added. 

Hinge, however, believes fit-out cost increases will be moderate over the next 12 months as the “current challenges start to unwind, unless a significant economic event flattens or reverses current trends.”

“The region continues to wrestle with the multiple challenges brought upon largely by supply chain disruption, price inflation and labour shortages. However, with current levels of price inflation considered ‘unsustainable,’ the increased risk of occupiers potentially deferring projects will likely lead to a consequent softening of demand. That will ease pressure on the construction and labour market,” Hinge predicted.

“Additionally, as the supply chain stabilizes, the reevaluation of risk and uncertainty in raw material costs, availability of material, and lead times can help reduce risk premiums which are currently included in tenders,” he concluded.

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.
1 2 3 71