Majority of businesses in Singapore see compliance as an opportunity creator that can build trust and reputation, rather than just an obligation.

Business leaders invest significant time in compliance: One in four (25%) have top executives/board members engage in compliance functions monthly or more

Over half of respondents (65%) expect compliance requirements to become more difficult to meet in the future and therefore plan to invest in technology (machine learning/AI) and skills to keep up.

Some 70% of businesses are confident they are meeting compliance requirements today – and will continue to in the future.

16 November 2021, Singapore: Mazars, the international audit, tax and advisory firm releases the Singapore edition of its global report ‘Unlocking trust: why global compliance is on the business agenda’.

The global study is based on a survey of 892 senior accounting and tax compliance professionals working in multinational companies from 25 countries, including 251 in APAC and 51 in Singapore. The findings highlight the opportunities and risks associated with compliance now and in the future.

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Opportunity to create value

Compliance leaders in Singapore tend to see compliance as an opportunity creator rather than just an obligation: 55% agree with this view. The opportunities compliance presents are significant: to create trust, bolster confidence and build reputation. Valuable prizes are on offer for meeting compliance requirements: 69% feel good compliance increases investor confidence; 61 % say it helps build a good reputation and 64% say it increases client or customer trust.

Businesses put senior effort into compliance

A quarter (25%) of businesses in Singapore have their top executives or board address compliance on a monthly basis or more while 45% engage with compliance every half-year. This engagement is most likely to be part of a pre-scheduled review of risks (51%) but is also often in search of ways to reduce costs (43%) or in pursuit of new insights or opportunities (37%).

Businesses expect compliance requirements to be more difficult to meet in the future

In general, businesses confirm their attention and resources devoted to compliance lead to positive results: 70% are highly confident they are successfully meeting the requirements now and will continue to do so in the future. However, 65% expect compliance to get harder in the next five years. It’s becoming more complex, legislation is changing fast, and Covid-19 will continue to cause disruption. Some 47% of Singapore respondents cite impacts of the pandemic as one of the most significant challenges to compliance over the next five years and 43% highlight increased scrutiny from regulators.

Leaders know falling short carries significant risks

Compliance leaders in Singapore know the significant risks of falling short: 82% say their business has faced accounting and tax compliance related challenges in the last five years. These consequences most commonly include reputational damage (53%), internal disciplinary action (37%) and fines (35%).

Leaders to invest in technology, but also need to boost knowledge and skills

Technology (especially machine learning/artificial intelligence) and skills are the biggest planned investments in compliance: 78% businesses in Singapore intend to invest in new accounting and tax compliance technology over the next five years. However, they are held back by a lack of team knowledge and skills: over one third of respondents (39%) feel this is a major obstacle to their team meeting compliance goals.

Erick Gillier, Partner, Global Head of Outsourcing, Mazars says: “Global compliance has long been a cornerstone of good business practice but can still be viewed by some as simply an obligation to be met rather than an opportunity to be capitalised on. That’s why we set out to uncover how business leaders approach global compliance, including the attention they devote to it, the returns they expect, the risks they anticipate, and where they focus investment. Our survey and study show when global compliance is done well it builds investor confidence, increases client and customer trust, and shapes a positive reputation with the outside world”.

Chris Fuggle, Partner and Head of Outsourcing, Mazars in Singapore says: “The increasing complexity of the regulatory environment creates a major challenge for international businesses in the region. Ensuring compliance with an ever-expanding set of rules is costly and resource intensive.

Chris adds: “Without a doubt, the cost of non-compliance in today will grow heavier in the future. The Singapore edition of the global study clearly demonstrates that leaders in Singapore view global compliance as a strategic priority that bring real opportunities and value to the business.”

Read ‘Unlocking trust: why global compliance is on the Singapore business agenda’ here.

Read the global study here.