As the ‘world’s easiest place to do business’ (World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 Report), Singapore has cemented herself as a strategic base for global advisory services leader PwC. Experts in the Asia Pacific, the company has been at the forefront of the region’s economic emergence, and continues to lead the market here.
Witnessing the growth of the industry first–hand has been Australian expat Mark Jansen, based in Singapore since 2004.
A successful partnership, “I fell in love with the city on my first visit, even as we drove through the lush greenery from Changi Airport to the Central Business District!” exclaims Mark Jansen. It’s an affection that has not abated in the ten years since he’s called Singapore home. In that time, Mark has played a leading role in PwC’s Risk Assurance Group, and seen the local accounting services industry grow from strength to strength.
As a PwC Risk Assurance partner, Mark sees being in Singapore as a good strategy, and having led many Asia–wide projects for top-tier institutions, he highlights several advantages the country holds over traditional competitors like Hong Kong.
He notes, “Firstly, one of the greatest things in Singapore is the ethnic diversity. At PwC we have well over 20 nationalities, and having teams with such diverse backgrounds enables us to work better across the region.
“Secondly, Singapore has the benefit of being one of the best travel hubs in the region. Whilst this may seem trivial, it is critical to our company as human contact is important.” He adds, “Finally, the ability to attract top talent helps Singapore learn from the best and develop local skills and expertise that is not easy to grow in a short space of time.”
Mark puts it succinctly, “Singapore’s got a great working environment, good infrastructure, good food, easy access to the region and a regulator that gets it!”
Abundance of opportunity
“The opportunities here are boundless,” Mark asserts. With Singapore already hosting so many international financial institutions, the prospects for accounting professionals is fair. As the country surges towards the goal of being a leading global accountancy hub for the Asia–Pacific region by 2020, Mark thinks that the introduction of the Singapore Qualification Programme is a great step forward.
Accounting professionals who want to ride this growth will do well to familiarise themselves with the fundamentals of business. Mark commented, “In today’s world too many people get caught up in the hype of ‘what could be’ without understanding the basic fundamentals.” This hinders the ability of the accounting professionals from providing sound advice to their clients.
Mark reflects, “The industry is always very dynamic.” Among the changes in the practice he has seen is a growing focus digital technology and data analytics, an area which PwC helps their clients understand and manage the risks presented in this new environment.
The draw to Singapore
Mark came to Singapore with his wife after two years in Japan, and his son was born here. A fan of the greenery and open spaces around Singapore, the Canberra native spends much of his free time exercising, though it is his four–year–old who exhausts him most at the weekends. That’s no mean feat given that Mark is a seasoned triathlete who has competed in the Hawaii Ironman World Championship four times, finishing third in his age group in 2010.
“It’s easy to go running, bike riding or swimming all year round, with the weather good almost every day,” the die-hard sportsman says.
So, has the last decade been good to him?
“Yes! It was a great move,” Mark believes. “What has impressed me most in the last 10 years is Singapore’s continuing evolution into a truly cosmopolitan city, which I believe is one of the best–if not the best–in the world.”
In the heart of Asia lies Singapore - a bustling, world-class city state that has made waves around the world for its business excellence, connectivity to the world and its innovation.
Singapore has been consistently acknowledged as a global business hub - one that features developed infrastructure, political stability, open business policies, a skilled workforce, the use of English as the main working language and respect for intellectual property rights. Many multinational companies have chosen to set up their bases in Singapore, next to 154,000 small and medium enterprises. Business owners all over the world regard Singapore as an ideal location to grow their businesses, with many of them using the country as a springboard to tap into other emerging markets in Asia.
Besides being ranked in the World Bank 2013 Report as the world's easiest place to do business (out of 185 countries), Singapore has, among its many accolades, the top ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 by the World Economic Forum as being the most competitive economy in Asia. Singapore was also ranked by the Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey as the top Asian country for its quality of life.
Global talent are attracted to Singapore's meritocratic society that embraces diversity, and a high quality of life in a cosmopolitan environment.
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