The biggest challenges for top executives in Singapore in 2022

·Finance Editor
·7-min read
(PHOTOS: Capitaland Investment, CIMB Singapore, Endowus, Razer, Standard Chartered Bank, Vertex)
(PHOTOS: Capitaland Investment, CIMB Singapore, Endowus, Razer, Standard Chartered Bank, Vertex)

SINGAPORE — As we move into the new year, some top business executives in Singapore share what they see as the biggest challenges facing them and their companies in 2022.

Lee Chee Koon, Group CEO of CapitaLand Investment

Lee Chee Koon, Group CEO of CapitaLand Investment. (PHOTO: CapitaLand Investment)
Lee Chee Koon, Group CEO of CapitaLand Investment. (PHOTO: CapitaLand Investment)

I choose to see our challenges as opportunities to become bigger and better. In 2022, with ongoing economic volatility and uncertainties including geopolitical tensions, inflation and higher energy prices likely to weigh on market sentiment, CapitaLand Investment will continue to take a prudent approach to capital management as we diversify our funding sources. I believe the resilience of our portfolio will allow us to capitalise on attractive investment opportunities and weather any economic headwinds.

As we pivot and grow as a real estate investment manager, we will especially focus on expanding our real asset management capabilities, harnessing the strength of our asset operating platforms, and continuing to drive our digital and innovation competences. Sustainability remains at the core of everything we do, so we will continue to pursue profitability in a responsible manner.

I am confident that we will achieve the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves and emerge stronger – just as we have done over the past two years despite upheavals from the pandemic. I am optimistic and excited to see where 2022 will take us.

Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore

Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore (PHOTO: CIMB SIngapore)
Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore (PHOTO: CIMB SIngapore)

With the ongoing pandemic there’s always bound to be plenty of uncertainty. However, company cohesion will be the ultimate game changer for 2022 – and I see a bright path for CIMB Singapore as we’re well-positioned to be a change maker. We will be forging ahead with a fresh chapter at our new office location, offering permanent hybrid work arrangements that’ll house the needs of high-performance teams, along with boundless energy, creativity and fun.

In 2021, we have staged a remarkable comeback and have sown the seeds of growth in our key focus areas. Moving ahead, I look forward to us building on the great momentum that we have started this year, while taking CIMB Singapore to greater heights.

​​Gregory Van, CEO of Endowus

Gregory Van, CEO of Endowus. (PHOTO: Endowus)
Gregory Van, CEO of Endowus. (PHOTO: Endowus)

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that things can change very quickly. When it comes to investing as an individual, a tried and tested strategy still applies even during times of uncertainty – prepare for different outcomes and plan for the long term. However, it is also during these times of uncertainties that investors’ attention may be sidetracked by stories of quick gains from crypto trading, NFTs, and many more. And this remains one of our toughest challenges, being able to cut through the clutter with financial education to help people make suitable investment decisions to grow their wealth sustainably.

Since Endowus’ launch and from the onset of the pandemic, our focus has always been about helping our clients navigate the market situation with all-rounded financial education, to help guide their decisions that are pegged to their different lifestyle needs, risk tolerance levels and long-term goals. Endowus espouses an investment strategy backed on globally diversified, passively managed fund products with a performance track record, at the lowest achievable fees. And as such, we have successfully delivered strong performance across our cash, CPF and SRS portfolios over the past year despite global market events that threaten volatility.

With the recent property cooling measures, investors will be looking at alternative asset classes to grow their wealth. As investors’ needs evolve with market changes, there’s an increasing need for digital wealth platforms like us to be quick in adapting and continue to leverage tech to bring innovative products to market.

Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Co-founder of Razer

Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Co-founder of Razer. (PHOTO: Razer)
Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Co-founder of Razer. (PHOTO: Razer)

As we welcome 2022, Razer will face it with the same vigour and resilience that we have shown throughout 2021. Becoming more sustainable is one of our greatest challenges as a collective and a goal that we are committed to. That is why sustainability will continue to play a big part of our strategy moving into 2022.

We will continue to drive our green initiatives to ensure that the world remains a playing field for all, enabling and encouraging everyone to do their part for the planet.

Judy Hsu, CEO, Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Standard Chartered

Judy Hsu, CEO, Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Standard Chartered. (PHOTO: Standard Chartered)
Judy Hsu, CEO, Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Standard Chartered. (PHOTO: Standard Chartered)

As we start 2022, we see the global economy gradually returning to normalcy as vaccinations enable economies to “live with COVID” despite intermittent bouts of the pandemic wave.

Yet, the pandemic has brought new challenges in the form of supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures as companies struggle to meet strong global demand for goods and services. Meanwhile, there is renewed urgency to address longstanding challenges such as climate change.

In 2022, we are maintaining our laser focus in helping clients navigate these challenging conditions, supporting them to grow their wealth and continuing to delight them with class-leading advisory and client experience.

We will help them achieve their financial goals with timely and relevant market insights and research from our CIO. With our digital advisory tools, our clients are empowered to monitor the health of their investment portfolios round-the-clock and adjust their allocations when needed.

We are also committed to invest in our people so that they can serve our clients even better. We launched the Standard Chartered-INSEAD Wealth Academy to equip our frontline teams with best-in-class wealth skills and enable them to provide top quality advice to our clients.

As a leading financial institution, we are confronting climate risks head on by channelling investments into sustainable development goals.

Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings

Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings. (PHOTO: Vertex)
Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings. (PHOTO: Vertex)

The outlook remains cautiously positive in 2022. COVID-19 is expected to be more manageable.

As many countries including the US have had highly accommodative monetary policies during 2020-2021, a lot of capital has spilt over to public and private markets. This has driven up the valuations. With rising inflationary pressures, many central banks including the Federal Reserve are expected to hike interest rates progressively, dampening valuations going forward. Higher interest rates are also likely to benefit yield dependent businesses while negative on borrowers.

Given the macroeconomic backdrop, we expect to see more fundraising and exits with greater scrutiny of underlying valuations in both private and public markets. Southeast Asia produced 22 unicorns while India minted over 40 unicorns. This is more than the total number of unicorns created before 2021. We expect this strong investor interest to persist in 2022 globally.

On the other hand, with more money pouring into startups, we see frothier markets continue into 2022 until the dampening effect sets in. Our best defence is discipline in valuation(s), diligence and investment pace. This will be increasingly important. We take a NOFOMO approach to investing, especially when valuations no longer make sense. Additionally, the startup talent gap is expected to be an increasing concern given the high demand for knowledge workers in general. This burgeoning demand is likely to extend beyond the tech talent crunch startups are seeing on the ground at this juncture.

Supply chain disruptions are also expected to abate as companies implement workarounds. With demand normalising from 2022, we could see oversupply in certain sectors as companies adjust to cope with the 2021 disruptions. This is expected to reduce inflationary pressures in selected sectors.

In life and business, there will always be headwinds. We must continue to sail into the wind. It is not the height of the walls ahead but the lift in our wings that matter.

At Vertex, we will continue to back some of the world’s finest founders and startup teams. They often start small. Think big. Learn or fail fast.

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