Welcome Address by Ms Foo Mee Har at the GFO Summit, Partners Forum on 11 September 2023


Mr Lim Chow Kiat, CEO of GIC, and Chairman of WMI

Delegates, friends, and colleagues,



  1. A warm welcome to the Global-Asia Family Office Summit 2023. It is heartening to see the strong turnout at this year’s event.


  1. Over the next two days, we will bring together more than 550 participants from the family office ecosystem.


  1. Today, we bring together the key partners of family offices from private banking, wealth management, asset management, trusts, legal, tax, estate planning, philanthropy advisory, and various other professional services.


  1. Tomorrow, we will convene the Single Family Office (SFO) Forum involving family office principals and their professionals.


  1. We are grateful that many of you are not only taking time to attend today’s session, but have also arranged for your principals to join tomorrow’s session.


Growth of Family Offices

  1. We are holding this Summit in the midst of a rapid growth in the number of family offices in Singapore. From just 400 in 2020, there are more than 1,100 single family offices operating under MAS Sections 13O and 13U Tax Incentives scheme as of 2022.


  1. This number does not include the other family offices that were set up without the benefit of MAS’s tax incentives. So the overall number of family offices in Singapore is likely to be even higher.


  1. Family offices bring tremendous value to Singapore. They bring not only capital but also knowledge, connections, and deep expertise. Many have a rich history of philanthropy. We are also seeing greater involvement of the next generation of family principals who are increasingly focused on areas such as impact investments, venture capital and alternative investments.


  1. MAS reported in July this year that SFOs under its scheme have played a significant role in job creation, generating approximately 1,400 well-paying employment opportunities for Singaporeans and permanent residents. 900 of these job opportunities were created in just the last 3 years.


  1. We all know that beyond this, family offices generate revenue and create significant opportunities for external service providers such as private banks, legal, tax firms, including the different sectors represented in this room.


  1. To all of us here, we have a unique window of opportunity to contribute to building a vibrant and high-quality family office sector in Singapore. I would like to touch on three areas to which we may collectively contribute to sustain its growth momentum.


Capability Development and Ecosystem Partnership

  1. First, the continued growth of family offices in Singapore is critically dependent on the availability of a pool of skilled professionals. The most common request that I get when I meet family offices is, “Can you please help me find people with such and such expertise?”


  1. We must continue to develop deep capabilities in both the core disciplines of wealth and asset management, but also new areas such as family office governance and advisory, sustainable finance, alternative investments and philanthropy.


  1. To this end, I am encouraged to see the strong appetite within the family office ecosystem for learning. Over the past year, total participation in WMI’s family office programmes and forums have doubled to over 3,000. Additionally, more than 200 professionals have successfully received their credentials of Certified Family Office Advisor, by completing a rigorous curriculum.


  1. Ecosystem partnerships are also key. Besides being excellent in their respective areas of specialisation, collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst the ecosystem players will lead to superior client experience and more innovative and holistic client solutions.


  1. This is the reason that we established the Global-Asia Family Office Circle in 2021, with support from the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) and MAS. Through this network platform, we provide the family office ecosystem a trusted environment to convene, collaborate and learn from each other and access the latest thought leadership.


Maintaining Trust and Credibility in the System

  1. Second, we must double down on our efforts to sustain strong trust and credibility within the family office sector. Our collective efforts contribute to a trustworthy and credible ecosystem that benefits all the stakeholders involved.


  1. We have all seen the recent news about investigation in one of the most extensive money laundering cases in Singapore. Police have taken control of more than $1.8billion in assets so far.


  1. This is a stark reminder that as a prominent global financial centre with substantial flows of capital, Singapore faces inherent risks related to money laundering.


  1. As advisors and partners, all of us in the ecosystem play a part in upholding the integrity of our financial system by paying special attention to risks and controls, customer due diligence and transaction monitoring.


  1. To support this effort, WMI is pleased to announce the launch of a new Family Office Risk Management & Controls programme.


  1. This programme will help strengthen capabilities to safeguard against financial crime and uphold compliance standards, in areas such as onboarding and due diligence, cross border jurisdiction and tax, capital and exchange control matters.


  1. Together, we can safeguard Singapore’s strong reputation not just to do business, but also to manage financial assets in accordance with rigorous standards and the highest integrity.


Integration to the wider Singapore ecosystem

  1. My third point is about the importance of helping family offices integrate to the wider Singapore ecosystem and be rooted in Singapore and the region.


  1. In July this year, MAS announced further changes to the tax incentives for SFOs. These changes are intended to encourage SFOs to channel more of the wealth they manage towards local enterprises and blended finance structures aimed at supporting sustainable development, climate-related investments, and charitable contributions, for the benefit of Singapore, Singaporeans and the region.


  1. Many of you may be asked by clients to help them get Permanent Resident status in Singapore. Since 2020, a small number of about 30 SFO owners have been awarded  Permanent Resident (PR) status under EDB’s Global Investor Programme.


  1. The assessment for such awards includes their investment track record, investment mandate in Singapore, as well as the projected size and experience of their Singapore team.


  1. It is clear that both MAS and EDB schemes are focused on attracting only top-tier business leaders who are interested to drive the growth of their businesses and investments from Singapore. The schemes favour wealth owners who contribute to job creation, bring expertise, integrate well and commit to sink roots in Singapore.


  1. As partners and advisors to family offices, you can play an instrumental role to fast-tracking family offices integration. Here are 5 things you can do to support:

1) Help family offices connect the dots of the full spectrum of what Singapore has to offer to accelerate engagement.


2) Introduce them to local investment opportunities including our venture and start up communities.


3) Help them build new networks in Singapore and find like-minded trusted partners for co-investments.


4) Encourage them to learn about strategic philanthropic initiatives, especially blended finance platform to fund green investments.


5) Most critically, support their understanding of Singapore’s norms and values and be rooted here.



  1. The good news is, you don’t have to do this alone. WMI will be announcing a new initiative tomorrow, with support from EDB and MAS, to help in this effort.  Stay tuned!


Introduction to Summit, Masterclasses and More Interactive Learning

  1. Indeed, today‘s Summit is specifically designed with these topics in mind.


  1. In the morning, you will hear from thought leaders and family principals about top-of-mind topics regarding investments and impact. This is the time to stretch your mind with the latest trends and priorities that will shape the landscape in the years ahead.


  1. In the afternoon, we are delighted to introduce a new format to facilitate deeper and more interactive learning. Our afternoon Masterclasses are specially designed to facilitate debate, real-world application and practical knowledge that you can use immediately.


  1. We have lined up a comprehensive list of diverse topics: from understanding Greater China family offices to regional investments in Southeast Asia and social innovation for family offices.


  1. These will be hands-on sessions – we will go through real case studies and put you in the principal’s seat.


  1. Some Masterclasses even feature the role-playing of family committee meetings with advisors coming in to pitch their ideas. Trust me – this will not be your typical conference.  In addition, these masterclasses count towards your CDP hours!


Thank You

  1. To conclude, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all speakers and facilitators today. You have put in tremendous effort to develop creative and meaningful plenary sessions and Masterclasses, and support deeper learning for us all.


  1. Thank you to MAS, EDB and IBF for your unstinting support.


  1. I would also like extend my sincere gratitude to the GFO Circle Committees, Advisory Groups and Corporate Members for your help to convene the community with us today.


  1. Thank you to all participants here today. We are encouraged by your keen interest to work together to build a stronger sector.


  1. Thank you to the WMI team for your hard work in organising this Summit.


  1. And lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank WMI’s founders, GIC and Temasek, for their generous support over the years. And with that, I am delighted to introduce our keynote speaker for today, Mr Lim Chow Kiat, CEO of GIC and Chairman of WMI.


  1. In his role as CEO of a leading sovereign wealth fund and investment firm, Chow Kiat is deeply thoughtful about the trends and underlying structural conditions that shape markets today.


  1. Like many family offices, GIC is a long-term investor, with a stewardship role that extends across generations. And through working with Chow Kiat at WMI, I know him to be deeply committed to developing talent, and strengthening the ecosystem.


  1. It is my honour to introduce Chow Kiat, our keynote speaker for today.


  1. Chow Kiat, please.