I am writing this on a plane from Taipei to Singapore. I am not trying to make you jealous; as any frequent business traveller will say, it is not as glamorous as it sounds.
I am telling you this because when I land in Singapore in a couple of hours, I’ll be back in the centre of activity for many clients and agencies in the Asia-Pacific region. MEC’s position on this vibrant "Red Dot", as many call Singapore, is what enables us to drive growth for our agency, our clients and our media partners.
During my time in Singapore, there has been a number of counter-forces to the continued growth of an economy with a low population base. These include the opening up of China and India, the establishment of tiger economies and new economies with large population bases such as Vietnam and now Myanmar.
I remember an article five years ago that categorically stated how all agencies would have their Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai by 2015. Yet, Singapore is still a thriving regional hub.
I believe three factors have driven the growth of agencies in Singapore.
Investors tend to view Singaporean companies in a favourable light in comparison with their peers
First, Singapore is about diversity. Forty-two per cent of the population are foreigners and this is reflected in the city’s agencies. This diversity drives important daily decisions such as the office afternoon snack.
On a more serious note, this mix of different skills and points of view provides a unique approach to helping clients thrive.
Second, Singapore is about innovation. Startup Genome reported that Singapore is poised to become the start-up hub of Asia, and it is the top Asian city on its tech start-up report last year. This innovative spirit clearly extends into the agency domain. Deloitte’s Interactive Digital Media: Shaping The Digital Future report noted that investors tend to view Singaporean companies in a favourable light in comparison with their peers in the region. This is due to Singapore’s stringent intellectual property rights, conducive business climate, efficient tax structure, world-class infrastructure and industry links across the region.
Finally, things just work in Singapore. Everything works! And you often get complacent about it. Only when you have to negotiate your way through Heathrow or JFK do you truly appreciate the oasis that is Changi Airport. Moving to Singapore is easy, living in Singapore is easy, doing business in Singapore is easy. At a corporate level, this establishes business certainty; and on a personal level, it provides peace of mind.
So, as much as I have enjoyed my trip this week, I’m looking forward to getting back home. Within 30 minutes of landing, I’ll be sitting on my balcony, enjoying a balmy tropical evening with a beer. Oh, and did I mention that we pay very low taxes? Unlike my first comment, that was intended to make you jealous.
Raj Gupta is the chief strategy officer, Asia-Pacific, at MEC