Singapore Expats Forum

Working from Singapore for a foreign-based company

Discuss your views about Singapore business & economy, current policies & issues, starting a business in Singapore.
Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Working from Singapore for a foreign-based company

Postby Flashman » Sat, 12 Jan 2013 9:19 pm

Hello! :)

I have seen threads about "self-employment at home" and "setting up a branch in Singapore" but this is a little different:

Does anybody have good advice on one individual working from Singapore for a foreign company - without setting up an official branch or a big office. The idea would be to simply rent some small office space for one person, hopefully in the CBD area.

What are the biggest factors I should consider? (aside from the possible high cost of office space, what other factors?)

I work for an investment bank in Europe. We manage mutual funds (mainly European) and one new product idea from management is to set up a fund for Emerging Markets Debt. Our European location, being 6 hours behind Asia and far from the companies and analysts, would be a hinderance.

I would like to propose to management that the fund manager (me) work from Singapore because:
- would be in the right time zone for trading of Asian bonds
- location is close to many analysts and traders and seminars and companies to invest in

Many thanks in advance for any and all advice!

offshoreoildude
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1582
Joined: Wed, 04 Jul 2012

Postby offshoreoildude » Sat, 12 Jan 2013 9:39 pm

Do you have any current right of residence in Singapore?

If yes then you can simply work as a private individual - rent an office space in your name. Pay CPF yourself and arrange insurance yourself. I did it this way.

If no then you need a permit which requires an entity to apply for it - representative agent might work for you.
Now I'm called PNGMK

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10566
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Postby Strong Eagle » Sat, 12 Jan 2013 11:08 pm

offshoreoildude wrote:Do you have any current right of residence in Singapore?

If yes then you can simply work as a private individual - rent an office space in your name. Pay CPF yourself and arrange insurance yourself. I did it this way.

If no then you need a permit which requires an entity to apply for it - representative agent might work for you.


I don't think that a representative agent will work. Sounds like he will be helping his firm produce income. Therefore, the firm must be registered and he must have a work permit.

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Sat, 12 Jan 2013 11:23 pm

Thank you both! :)

This idea was just floated recently for the first time, so I have not yet researched it fully (which I will do, just wanted a headstart with some tips from here!)

No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore.

I would be helping my firm produce income, but it would be Europeans in Europe investing in my fund - no Singaporean or other Asian investors would be courted as clients.

The only thing I would do in Singapore is analyse and buy and sell Asian corporate bonds for a European-registered fund (and I believe trade settlement can be done on the European side - since I can currently buy and sell Asian bonds with JPMorgan's EM desk in London, for example).

I will look into both of these avenues mentioned (representative agent and firm registration).

(The idea of living/working in Singapore is not new though, I have visited many times and thought I would like to find a new job there.)

Cheers! :)

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Sat, 12 Jan 2013 11:43 pm

A Representative Office is probably out of the question:

from:
http://www.guidemesingapore.com/incorpo ... tion-guide
A Singapore representative office has no legal status and it is merely an extension of the foreign company. It must not conduct any business activities of profit yielding nature. Since it lacks a legal status, a representative office is prohibited from concluding contracts, negotiating or opening Letter of Credit, getting involved in trading, leasing a warehouse, etc. It can only engage in activities such as conducting market research and feasibility studies.


This site is otherwise a good place to start, I hope:
http://www.guidemesingapore.com/incorpo ... comparison

User avatar
taxico
Director
Director
Posts: 3186
Joined: Sat, 10 May 2008
Location: Existential dilemma!

Postby taxico » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 2:55 am

Flashman wrote:...No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore...


good luck getting that right.

you might want to look a these websites instead:

www.business.gov.sg

www.iesingapore.gov.sg

www.mom.gov.sg

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 4:36 am

taxico wrote:
Flashman wrote:...No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore...


good luck getting that right.

you might want to look a these websites instead:

www.business.gov.sg

www.iesingapore.gov.sg

www.mom.gov.sg


Those are exactly the websites I was surfing just in the last hour.

I was still thinking about the Representative Office idea, that it could be possible if I would only do research/analysis from Singapore and have my European colleague do the bond buying/selling.

For this investment fund, there would actually be 2 Fund Managers and the other would be located in Europe (his focus is Russia, East Europe and LatAm) and he could do all the trading (Asian and other EM bonds are also traded in Europe), and thus I would not be engaging in any trading or commercial activity for a fee.

One downside for a "Representative Office" is that the maximum period is 3 years, and after that "The parent company is advised to upgrade the representative office to a subsidiary or a branch office after such period."

offshoreoildude
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1582
Joined: Wed, 04 Jul 2012

Postby offshoreoildude » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 11:49 am

Flashman wrote:
taxico wrote:
Flashman wrote:...No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore...


good luck getting that right.

you might want to look a these websites instead:

www.business.gov.sg

www.iesingapore.gov.sg

www.mom.gov.sg


Those are exactly the websites I was surfing just in the last hour.

I was still thinking about the Representative Office idea, that it could be possible if I would only do research/analysis from Singapore and have my European colleague do the bond buying/selling.

For this investment fund, there would actually be 2 Fund Managers and the other would be located in Europe (his focus is Russia, East Europe and LatAm) and he could do all the trading (Asian and other EM bonds are also traded in Europe), and thus I would not be engaging in any trading or commercial activity for a fee.

One downside for a "Representative Office" is that the maximum period is 3 years, and after that "The parent company is advised to upgrade the representative office to a subsidiary or a branch office after such period."


The 3 years is not set in stone. I see people generating income under that scheme a lot.

You could also look at PEP if your income is high enough.
Now I'm called PNGMK

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 3:05 pm

offshoreoildude wrote:
Flashman wrote:
taxico wrote:
Flashman wrote:...No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore...


good luck getting that right.

you might want to look a these websites instead:

www.business.gov.sg

www.iesingapore.gov.sg

www.mom.gov.sg


Those are exactly the websites I was surfing just in the last hour.

I was still thinking about the Representative Office idea, that it could be possible if I would only do research/analysis from Singapore and have my European colleague do the bond buying/selling.

For this investment fund, there would actually be 2 Fund Managers and the other would be located in Europe (his focus is Russia, East Europe and LatAm) and he could do all the trading (Asian and other EM bonds are also traded in Europe), and thus I would not be engaging in any trading or commercial activity for a fee.

One downside for a "Representative Office" is that the maximum period is 3 years, and after that "The parent company is advised to upgrade the representative office to a subsidiary or a branch office after such period."


The 3 years is not set in stone. I see people generating income under that scheme a lot.

You could also look at PEP if your income is high enough.


Thanks! :)
3 years not set in stone? Interesting - does this mean it's easy to renew?

And people are generating income under a Rep Office? Because they're allowed to or because they're not monitored?

PEP - sadly, my income is not high enough for that...

...but it is high enough for a P1 pass. And, from the MOM website, under P1 pass it states: "If the applicant’s employer is based overseas and does not have a registered office in Singapore, another Singapore registered company can act as the sponsor and submit the application on behalf." So I wonder if one of the banks that we buy/sell bonds with can simply be a Sponsor company (like the Singapore offices of JP Morgan, BNP, HSBC, etc)?

There is a special "Employment Pass Application (for Sponsorship Cases)" at the MOM site and section 6 asks for information on the Sponsor and its "Relationship between Direct Employer and Sponsor Company and justification by Sponsor Company to have this foreign employee to work in Singapore"

Seems like this could be easier than just a Representative Office(?)

offshoreoildude
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1582
Joined: Wed, 04 Jul 2012

Postby offshoreoildude » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 8:34 pm

Flashman wrote:
offshoreoildude wrote:
Flashman wrote:
taxico wrote:
Flashman wrote:...No, I currently do not have right of residence in Singapore...


good luck getting that right.

you might want to look a these websites instead:

www.business.gov.sg

www.iesingapore.gov.sg

www.mom.gov.sg


Those are exactly the websites I was surfing just in the last hour.

I was still thinking about the Representative Office idea, that it could be possible if I would only do research/analysis from Singapore and have my European colleague do the bond buying/selling.

For this investment fund, there would actually be 2 Fund Managers and the other would be located in Europe (his focus is Russia, East Europe and LatAm) and he could do all the trading (Asian and other EM bonds are also traded in Europe), and thus I would not be engaging in any trading or commercial activity for a fee.

One downside for a "Representative Office" is that the maximum period is 3 years, and after that "The parent company is advised to upgrade the representative office to a subsidiary or a branch office after such period."


The 3 years is not set in stone. I see people generating income under that scheme a lot.

You could also look at PEP if your income is high enough.


Thanks! :)
3 years not set in stone? Interesting - does this mean it's easy to renew?

Someone I know has done it for over 20 years


And people are generating income under a Rep Office? Because they're allowed to or because they're not monitored?
[img]
Probably the latter and the invoicing is from outside Singapore/[/img]

PEP - sadly, my income is not high enough for that...

...but it is high enough for a P1 pass. And, from the MOM website, under P1 pass it states: "If the applicant’s employer is based overseas and does not have a registered office in Singapore, another Singapore registered company can act as the sponsor and submit the application on behalf." So I wonder if one of the banks that we buy/sell bonds with can simply be a Sponsor company (like the Singapore offices of JP Morgan, BNP, HSBC, etc)?

There is a special "Employment Pass Application (for Sponsorship Cases)" at the MOM site and section 6 asks for information on the Sponsor and its "Relationship between Direct Employer and Sponsor Company and justification by Sponsor Company to have this foreign employee to work in Singapore"

Seems like this could be easier than just a Representative Office(?)

I am not sure of this - you're past my level of expertise now. What I do no is that no one is going to use up EP and WP passes places if they are not benefitting from it now the Govt has tightened up on issuing them.


Now I'm called PNGMK

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Sun, 13 Jan 2013 9:44 pm

What I do no is that no one is going to use up EP and WP passes places if they are not benefitting from it now the Govt has tightened up on issuing them.


Thanks again :)

Do you mean the Government benefitting or the possible Sponsor company benefitting?

At least the Sponsor company would benefit as they are clients of ours (we do trades with them). But if you are talking about the Govt, then its more difficult to prove that I am benefitting them.

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10566
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 14 Jan 2013 1:05 am

Everything posted about alternatives to a private limited is a way to "get around" the regulations. But I really don't see why your company simply wouldn't form a wholly owned private limited in Singapore. It is easy to do and relatively inexpensive. Your P1 employment pass would be a relative shoe in as you are in the financial industry. Singapore provides some very nice corporate tax breaks on profits for the first three years, and other sweetners after that.

Why fiddle with gray area definitions of what you are doing?

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Mon, 14 Jan 2013 5:36 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:Everything posted about alternatives to a private limited is a way to "get around" the regulations. But I really don't see why your company simply wouldn't form a wholly owned private limited in Singapore. It is easy to do and relatively inexpensive. Your P1 employment pass would be a relative shoe in as you are in the financial industry. Singapore provides some very nice corporate tax breaks on profits for the first three years, and other sweetners after that.

Why fiddle with gray area definitions of what you are doing?


Thanks! I can see why you would say that but I'm thinking more about getting something started in the easiest and most inexpensive way, since our bank (like many others) is still in "cost-reduction" mode. In order to make this work, I must show my boss(es) that this can be done easy and with minimal extra costs.

A 3-year Representative Office to see how things go and then, after that, a wholly-owned private limited in Singapore sounds like a reasonable plan of attack, I think.

Feel free to post any disagreements... I appreciate any constructive criticism!

User avatar
Mi Amigo
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1779
Joined: Sat, 19 Jun 2004
Location: Kinto Pino

Postby Mi Amigo » Mon, 14 Jan 2013 7:20 pm

When I moved here many moons ago, the advice from local contacts was to set up a Pte. Ltd. as a subsidiary of the HQ company, given that the process is incredibly simple, quick and inexpensive. Nevertheless the company's advisers (most of whom weren't physically located in Singapore) insisted that a rep office was definitely the way to go. So we faffed about (technical term) on that basis for a while, during which it soon became very clear that all the limitations we'd flagged up were biting us in the a$$.

So before too long, at further, not insignificant cost (due to all the expensive 'advice' being provided), the whole thing got converted into a Pte. Ltd. We could have saved a lot of hassle, frustration and money if we'd just gone for a Pte. Ltd. on day 1. Some might say that the advisers knew that all along and were just trying to maximise their earning potential from the situation, but I couldn't possibly comment on that.
Be careful what you wish for

Flashman
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu, 30 Jun 2011
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Postby Flashman » Mon, 14 Jan 2013 7:45 pm

Mi Amigo wrote:When I moved here many moons ago, the advice from local contacts was to set up a Pte. Ltd. as a subsidiary of the HQ company, given that the process is incredibly simple, quick and inexpensive. Nevertheless the company's advisers (most of whom weren't physically located in Singapore) insisted that a rep office was definitely the way to go. So we faffed about (technical term) on that basis for a while, during which it soon became very clear that all the limitations we'd flagged up were biting us in the a$$.

So before too long, at further, not insignificant cost (due to all the expensive 'advice' being provided), the whole thing got converted into a Pte. Ltd. We could have saved a lot of hassle, frustration and money if we'd just gone for a Pte. Ltd. on day 1. Some might say that the advisers knew that all along and were just trying to maximise their earning potential from the situation, but I couldn't possibly comment on that.


Fascinating, thank you! :)


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Business in Singapore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests