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Singapore may surpass Switzerland as largest OFC by 2015

(31/01/2012, Singapore) Singapore, which has the world's highest density of wealthy people, had just over 150,000 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), each worth more than US$ 1 million, by the end of last year, according to new figures. A forecast by financial consultant Wealth Insight predicts that these individuals will prove key in the expansion of Asia's banking sector.

In the 10 years to 2010, the report found the total assets managed by the Singapore's wealth management and private banking sector increased 11-fold! HNWIs now make up 2.9 % of Singapore's population. In the same period, the number of foreign professionals working in Singapore's finance industry went up by 9,600, according to the minister of state for manpower, Tan Chuan-Jin. He said that the number of new employment passes given out to foreigners shows Singapore's growth as a financial hub in the past decade, especially since 2006.

"By 2015, Singapore is expected to have gained significant ground on, and could even surpass, Switzerland as the world's largest offshore financial centre," said Wealth Insight analyst Andrew Amoils. "This will be fuelled by HNWI growth in the Asia-Pacific region and global clients moving their offshore funds from other financial centres to Singapore."

Analysts believe the continuing Eurozone crisis and investigations into offshore accounts in Switzerland will undermine its position as the global capital of offshore finance.

By comparison, Singapore is one of the 10 south-east Asian nations that make up ASEAN (Brunei, Indonesien, Kambodscha, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippinen, Singapur, Thailand, Vietnam), increasingly viewed as an important economic bloc. In the last year, US$ 79.9 billion worth of foreign investment flowed into ASEAN states, compared with China’s US$ 105.7 billion and India’s US$ 24.6 billion.

Singapore's trade ministry said the economy may grow by 1 to 3 % in 2012, down from a 5 % increase in 2011.

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