According to the Boston Consulting Group, Singapore — now growing faster than first-place Switzerland — will become the largest offshore financial center in the world by 2028.
The Republic of Singapore has the tripartite distinction of being a small island, a city and an independent country, all in one.
Located just a few miles north of the equator in the Far East, this former British colony has Malaysia and Indonesia as neighbors. Our associates at the international travel guide Lonely Planet give this estimate: “Long dismissed as little more than a sterile stopover, Singapore has reinvented itself as one of the world’s hot-list destinations.”
That refers to the many tourist attractions in Singapore (including a giant “vending machine” for luxury cars), but for investment-savvy Americans, there is a special draw…
The New Financial Center of the World
According to the Boston Consulting Group, Singapore — now growing faster than first-place Switzerland — will become the largest offshore financial(NYSEARCA:XLF) center in the world by 2028.
Indeed, after my visit to Singapore a decade ago, when I met with attorneys, bankers and investment houses, I wrote about this ultramodern city as “the Switzerland of Asia.” Now, The New York Times describes it as “ … an increasingly popular destination for money that wants to stay under the radar.”
Tight bank secrecy laws, intentionally patterned after the Swiss, have helped draw $1.1 trillion in foreign funds to the city. But Singapore takes dirty money seriously. It has jailed local and foreign bankers and closed branches of two Swiss banks.
As the Times reports: “Singapore has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for Asia’s rich. It encouraged private wealth managers to use the city as a regional base in the 1990s just as China’s rise created a new generation of wealthy.”
Since then, Americans and others also have discovered Singapore, where online banking at firms such as OCBC require only an SG$1,000 deposit ($720) to open an account. Its British-based modern laws also offer asset protection trusts, international corporations and limited liability companies.
Singapore has an open economy based on strong service and manufacturing sectors with excellent international trading links. Many Swiss and other banks, such as Julius Baer, UBS, Credit Suisse and Citibank, operate in Singapore to capitalize on Asian opportunities. The number of private banks here increased fivefold to 121 in the past 15 years.
In 2016, this city-state was rated No. 2, after Hong Kong, in the annual Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Index.
A few years ago, I interviewed Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most successful contrarian investors. He started on Wall Street in the 1960s, joined with George Soros and formed the legendary Quantum Fund. It totaled a 4,200% gain during the 1970s betting against the conventional investing wisdom.
Curious, my less-than-novel question was why a world traveler who could live anywhere chose to make Singapore his home, with its hot and humid equatorial climate and rainfall of 90-plus inches annually.
After noting the benefits of air conditioning, Rogers went on to describe what makes a place excellent, not only for life needs, but also as a base for profitable investing. He listed a stable government assuring safety and low crime, the rule of law, minimal regulation, maximum privacy, and low or no taxes.
That fits my traditional definition of an offshore personal/financial haven that I have advocated in my books. And too, Singapore offers foreign investors citizenship under their Global Investor Programme in exchange for an investment of SG$2.5 million ($1.8 million).
If you are interested in any aspect of these possibilities (and there are many more), I fully explore Singapore in my popular book, Where to Stash Your Cash (Legally).
If you are looking for more advice on personal banking, legal or investment contacts in Singapore and other financial havens, you can get all of Ted Bauman’s and my updates in The Bauman Letter.
Yours for liberty,