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COVID-19 relief insurance coverage for all DBS/POSB customers and families

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Author: Ravi Philemon

DBS to offer free COVID-19 relief insurance coverage for all five million DBS/POSB customers and families – Customers can sign up for the COVID-19 Hospital Cash insurance policy online, or at any DBS/POSB bank branch island-wide from 24 February till 15 March

By: Hitesh Khan/

COVID-19 relief insurance coverageDBS on Feb 17 announced that it has partnered with Chubb Insurance Singapore Limited (Chubb) to offer all its five million customers in Singapore complimentary insurance coverage in relation to COVID-19.

Both parties are also in discussions to introduce similar COVID-19 relief insurance coverage policies for customers in the regional markets that DBS operates in.

Launching on 24 February, the COVID-19 Hospital Cash policy is a 30-day free cover that provides a daily cash benefit for hospital confinement and a lump sum payout for ICU confinement, in relation to COVID-19. It also provides worldwide coverage for policyholders who must travel during this period. DBS/POSB customers who are Singapore Residents aged 18 and above can apply for the COVID-19 Hospital Cash policy as the main policyholder, and include their immediate family members1 as additional insured persons. There is no age limit, though the policy can only insure those who are one month and above, and family members do not have to be DBS/POSB customers.

COVID-19 relief insurance coverage meant to further enhance community support measures

Said Shee Tse Koon, DBS Singapore Country Head, “On the back of the liquidity relief measures we introduced last week, we wanted to further enhance the community support measures for our customers and the public in Singapore. Alongside the public health measures announced by the Singapore Government, we hope this coverage – which will be available to almost all Singapore residents – will help to further cushion affected patients’ healthcare expenses during a difficult period. Together with our partner Chubb, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Singapore and will continue to do our best to support everyone here.”

Scott Simpson, Country President of Chubb in Singapore said, “Chubb, like DBS, recognises the importance of aiding customers during this critical period. In view of the evolving coronavirus situation, we want to provide DBS customers with appropriate protection, peace of mind and confidence to carry out their daily activities, knowing that in the event of the unfortunate, they are protected. As partners, we stand in solidarity to give the local community our full support in this time of need.”

COVID-19 relief insurance coverage includes cash for hospitalisation and admission

Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 while being covered by the COVID-19 Hospital Cash policy will receive SGD 100 per day of hospitalisation and a lump sum of SGD 1,000 upon admission to the ICU.

The COVID-19 Hospital Cash policy will be available for customers to sign up online from 24 February till 15 March. Customers may also apply at any DBS/POSB bank branch island-wide. The 30-day free cover commences on the date of application and will expire automatically. Should customers wish to extend their coverage beyond the 30 days, they can also choose to purchase additional coverage with the Recovery Hospital Cash policy. It provides policyholders with daily cash payouts for hospitalisation stays due to COVID-19, as well as other sicknesses (including dengue fever) and accidental injury.

The offer of free COVID-19 relief insurance coverage for all DBS/POSB customers is a part of the bank’s overall community support efforts during this difficult time.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a press release on Feb 14 that it welcomes the recent announcements from banks and insurers in Singapore to support their customers who may be facing financial difficulties brought about by the impact of the ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The support announced by financial institutions thus far include moratoriums on repayments for affected corporate and individual customers, extension of payment terms for trade finance facilities, and additional financing for working capital.

MAS noted that the measures are in line with guidelines on corporate debt restructuring by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS). Insurers in Singapore have clarified that Integrated Shield Plans (IP), IP riders and most other personal and group health insurance policies will cover hospitalisation expenses related to COVID-19.

Some insurers have extended additional benefits to life insurance policyholders diagnosed with COVID-19, such as complimentary lump sum payments upon diagnosis, as well as daily cash payment for the duration of hospitalisation.

MAS said it supports these efforts by financial institutions to work constructively with customers affected by COVID-19 while adhering to prudent risk assessments. The various measures by financial institutions will help corporates and individuals facing short-term cash flow constraints and provide timely insurance coverage for policyholders affected by COVID-19. Taken together, these measures by financial institutions should help to buffer some of the impact on corporates and individuals from the COVID-19 outbreak, said MAS.

UOB, another financial institution, announced a $3billion relief assistance especially for SMEs affected by Covid-19. It said in a press release on Feb 12 that it has allocated S$3 billion to provide companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in Singapore with relief assistance to tide over the negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their business.

UOB announces package to help corporate clients

In the face of the likely economic fallout and its impact on industries and businesses, UOB sees the need to help its corporate clients, in particular the SMEs, in addressing their near-term liquidity needs. The Bank’s relief measures aim to enable those affected companies, who have good track records and who have been servicing their repayments promptly, to have more flexibility in their cash flow management.

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Financial Institutions relief efforts for Covid-19 impact, MAS welcomes

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Author: Ravi Philemon

MAS Welcomes Measures by Financial Institutions to Support Customers Facing the Impact of COVID-19

financial institutionsThe Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a press release on Feb 14 that it welcomes the recent announcements from banks and insurers in Singapore to support their customers who may be facing financial difficulties brought about by the impact of the ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The support announced by financial institutions thus far include moratoriums on repayments for affected corporate and individual customers, extension of payment terms for trade finance facilities, and additional financing for working capital.

MAS noted that the measures are in line with guidelines on corporate debt restructuring by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS). Insurers in Singapore have clarified that Integrated Shield Plans (IP), IP riders and most other personal and group health insurance policies will cover hospitalisation expenses related to COVID-19.

Some insurers have extended additional benefits to life insurance policyholders diagnosed with COVID-19, such as complimentary lump sum payments upon diagnosis, as well as daily cash payment for the duration of hospitalisation.

MAS said it supports these efforts by financial institutions to work constructively with customers affected by COVID-19 while adhering to prudent risk assessments. The various measures by financial institutions will help corporates and individuals facing short-term cash flow constraints and provide timely insurance coverage for policyholders affected by COVID-19. Taken together, these measures by financial institutions should help to buffer some of the impact on corporates and individuals from the COVID-19 outbreak, said MAS.

UOB one of the financial institutions, announced a $3billion relief assistance especially for SMEs affected by Covid-19. It said in a press release on Feb 12 that it has allocated S$3 billion to provide companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in Singapore with relief assistance to tide over the negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their business.

UOB announces package to help corporate clients

In the face of the likely economic fallout and its impact on industries and businesses, UOB sees the need to help its corporate clients, in particular the SMEs, in addressing their near-term liquidity needs. The Bank’s relief measures aim to enable those affected companies, who have good track records and who have been servicing their repayments promptly, to have more flexibility in their cash flow management.

UOB announces relief assistance to cushion impact of Covid-19. Assistance especially targeted at small and medium sized enterprises.

These measures include:

  • allowing affected businesses to rework their principal repayments and to service only their loan
    interest for up to one year;
  • extending up to one year working capital financing of up to S$5 million; and
  • offering financing liquidity against mortgage security.

Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, UOB, said, “In these particularly trying times, the government, businesses and communities are doing their very best to overcome this immediate challenge. We at UOB want to play our part in our commitment to caring for our clients’ businesses. For most companies, especially the SMEs, cash flow and financing are key to them sustaining their business. As their long-term banking partner, we believe our added support can help alleviate the business disruption and pressure from the ripple effect of the epidemic.”

UOB announces plan also for retail customers

For its retail customers who are affected by the current circumstances, UOB will assess on a case-by-case basis how it can help them. The Bank is monitoring the situation and will take appropriate steps accordingly in support of its customers.

UOB announces assistance as reports suggests impact from Covid-19 is expected to be short-lived

The economic impact of the Coronavirus issue is expected to be short-lived based on the current situation, said a recent note from Cushman & Wakefield (C&W). The report said that the Singapore government has tried to put in place multiple lines of defence to minimize the chances of the virus spreading further.

Any disruption to market activity is expected to be short-lived and so the real estate impact will be minimal said Ms Christine Li, C&W’s Head of Research for South East Asia.

“Singapore, Singapore; held up by the country’s sound economic fundamentals. The impact will be mostly felt by the hospitality, retail and F&B sectors, with limited impact on both the office and industrial sectors as these are non-tourism related sectors. Corporates may delay decision making in the first quarter of 2020 as they focus on tactical issues around operations in China for the moment. This is expected to impact activity in the first quarter of 2020 against an office leasing market that has already been grappling with a slowdown arising from the US-China trade war.”

Although the real estate impact will be minimal, the impact on the hospitality sector is more immediate said the report.

“With millions in China under an effective lockdown and a ban on Chinese tour groups and travellers who have recently travelled to China, tourist arrivals especially from China are expected to slow in 1H 2020. Given that Chinese tourists make up about 20 per cent of Singapore’s international visitors with about 3.6 million visitors to Singapore in 2019, overall hotel RevPar is expected to see some downward pressure in the first half.

“The slow down in tourist arrivals will result in a decline in shopping spend by Chinese tourists, particularly retail trades and tourist destinations which cater to Chinese tourists. Chinese tourists were the top spenders in the first half of 2019, spending close to S$2 billion on shopping, accommodation, F&B, etc, with 51 per cent on shopping alone. As such, some of the more touristy shopping destinations mainly in Marina Bay Sands and Orchard locations could be affected if the travel ban and outbreak persists.”

As the real estate impact is expected to be minimal, landlords of major shopping centres are not under pressure to lower rents, especially if the overall situation improves in the next couple of weeks, said C&W.

“Typically, the well-managed shopping centres also have enough tenants in waiting to take up any vacancy that becomes available. So long as the virus remains at bay with no community spread, the temporary decline in footfalls at malls should recover over a short period of time.”

In the residential sector, there could be a slight impact on project launches as developers are likely to hold back new launches in view of the weaker sentiment, said C&W.

Ms Li said, “high-end luxury properties with more Chinese buyers could face slower take-up rates as viewings are expected to slow down in the midst of the outbreak. Again, the impact should still be contained as Singapore continues to be seen as a safe haven location amid heightened global uncertainties.”

She added, “liquidity is still aplenty and investors continue to search for yield in the real estate sector. Well-managed and well-located office and industrial assets will remain sought after by investors and occupiers who typically take a medium to long term view when they purchase or lease these properties.”

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Residential property sector chugging along in an uncertain market

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Author: Ravi Philemon

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (17 Feb) showed that residential property sector chugging along in an uncertain marketplace

residential property sector chuggingDevelopers sold a total of 618 units in January 2020, up 14.9 per cent month-on-month compared to 538 units in December last year. Sales are also up 41.4 per cent year-on-year. Data released on Monday (17 Feb) by URA showed that developers sold 618 new private homes (excluding Executive Condos) last month. This is the best performing January sales since January 2013 (where 2,028 units were transacted).

Residential property sector chugging along for now

Commenting on the URA data, Colliers International said the general marketplace may be fraught with uncertainty, but the residential property sector appears to be chugging along, at least for now. The 618 units moved last month were 14.9% more than December’s transactions and 41.1% higher than the 437 units sold in January 2019. This is despite the Chinese New Year festivities and outbreak of COVID-19 during the latter part of January.

“To what extent can this sales momentum be sustained from February and beyond would depend on whether there is a crisis of confidence in the market and among the population, owing to the more muted economic growth outlook as we begin to count the cost of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. It must be said that the Singapore government has thus far managed the outbreak efficiently and we look to the Singapore Budget 2020 for more measures that will help businesses tide over this period. (See Outlook section below)

We believe the sales volume in January reflected the underlying demand for homes, with competitively priced projects gaining a fair share of buyers. The top selling private residential projects in January were: Jadescape (56 units at a median price of SGD1,690 psf); Treasure at Tampines (50 units at a median price of SGD1,371 psf); Parc Esta (44 units at a median price of SGD1,684 psf); Parc Botannia (39 units at a median price of SGD1,371 psf); and Parc Clematis (39 units at a median price of SGD1,610 psf).”

The residential property sector chugging along produced the following top 10 Selling Projects in January 2020 (including EC) said Colliers:

Project Name Street Name Locality Units Sold in the Month Median Price ($psf) in the Month % sold to date (of total)
Jadescape Shunfu Road RCR 56  1,690 52%
Treasure At Tampines Tampines Lane OCR 50  1,371 42%
Parc Esta Sims Avenue RCR 44  1,684 75%
Parc Botannia Fernvale Street OCR 39  1,371 96%
Parc Clematis Jalan Lempeng OCR 39  1,610 38%
Leedon Green Leedon Heights CCR 35  2,782 5%
The Avenir River Valley Close CCR 24  3,245 6%
Piermont Grand Sumang Walk OCR 20  1,091 58%
Avenue South Residence Silat Avenue RCR 18  2,028 43%
View At Kismis Lorong Kismis RCR 16  1,698 37%

Source: Colliers International, URA

3 new launches in January 2020

Project Name Street Name Locality Total Number of Units in Project Units Launched in the Month Units Sold in the Month Median Price ($psf) in the Month % sold  (of launched)
Leedon Green Leedon Heights CCR  638  50  35  2,782 70%
The Avenir River Valley Close CCR  376  40  24  3,245 60%
Van Holland Holland Road CCR  69  69  15  2,988 22%

Source: Colliers International, URA

Three projects, all located in the Core Central Region (CCR), were launched last month – Leedon Green sold 35 units at a median price of SGD2,782 psf, Van Holland shifted 15 units at a median price of SGD2,988 psf, while The Avenir shifted 24 units at a median price of SGD3,245 psf.  These prime projects have a price quantum of SGD2.7-5.0 million per unit.

The bulk of the developer sales were projects with units priced between SGD1 million and SGD1.5 million. We estimate that 67% of the total developer sales in January 2020 were priced at the median price of SGD1,000-2,000 psf.

Ms Tricia Song, Tricia Song, Colliers International’s Head of Research for Singapore, analysing the residential property sector chugging along said:

“There are concerns that the coronavirus outbreak could dent demand for homes due to: 1) weaker overall market sentiment; 2) social distancing as people shun crowded places, including showflats; and 3) postponement of home purchases (likely high-end units) by foreign buyers, particularly Chinese buyers, given the travel curbs. These concerns are valid; depending on how severe and protracted the situation develops, some of the planned new launches could be pushed to 2021.

In our view, it looks like home buyers were unfazed by the COVID-19 fears, so far. Based on Realis data, the first nine days of February already recorded some 146 new transactions (excl. EC). Meanwhile, The M and Verticus are scheduled to be launched later this month. The M reportedly drew 1,000 visitors on its first day of preview. For ECs, Parc Canberra sold 64% or 316 out of 496 apartments, while another EC – 548-unit OLA at Anchorvale will also be launched by end of February.

In addition, developers have put in place precautionary measures at showflats to safeguard visitors and property agents. Digital technology and social media also enabled developers to explore new ways to market their projects. These initiatives would go some way to ensure some business continuity, in ways which were not possible during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Based on the experience during SARS, new sales fell to 119-228 units per month between January and May 2003, before rebounding to 775 units in June 2003 and 1,271 units in July 2003 as the epidemic subsided and pent-up demand returned. For the whole of 2003, private home prices fell 2.1%, extending the decline from the fallout post the dot-com crash.

Gleaning from history and barring a protracted downturn from the coronavirus outbreak, we think pent-up demand will return later and developers will refrain from major price cuts.”

Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said, “the residential property sector chugging along is encouraging. This is because the first two months of the year tend to be seasonally lower due to the start of the school term.”

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4 Ways to Lose Money on Bonds

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Author: Marubozu

Authour: Anya

 

It would likely surprise a lot of investors to find out they could lose money investing in bonds. Their first instinct is usually to think back to all the financial advisers they have heard say bonds are safe investments. The truth is that while bonds are certainly more secure than a lot of other investment options, they are far from fail-safe.

In a effort to protect investors from any misconceptions they might have about investing in bonds, we are offering information on the following four ways investors can lose money on bond investments.

FYI: Investopedia.com defines a bond as: “a fixed income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower (typically corporate or governmental). Bond details include the end date when the principal of the loan is due to be paid to the bond owner and usually includes the terms for variable or fixed interest payments made by the borrower.”

 

Losses From Bond Trading

Much like stock investing where concerns about the total stock return formula matter, investors can buy and sell bonds at will. When buying or selling a bond, the investor is subject to market forces. The pricing process is stated in terms of bid and ask pricing. In the process of buying and selling bonds, the investor is always subject to business activities that can cause a sudden change in a bond’s price. Here’s four ways that can happen:

 

Interest Rate Moves

From time to time, the US Federal Reserve will move interest rates. When interest rates head upwards, bond prices will move downwards. If an investor is trying to actively trade bonds as interest rates are heading higher, they stand the risk of getting caught paying too much for the bonds they purchase. When that happens, they are stuck with bonds that likely won’t recover in price until interest rates head back down, which could be months or years.

 

The Credit Rating Effect

The value of a bond reflects the underlying company’s creditworthiness in the eyes of investment rating companies like Moody’s or Fitch. If said rating companies see that a corporation is struggling, they will respond by lowering a corporation’s bond ratings. Investors holding those bonds could take a significant hit until the bond’s ratings go back up.

 

Corporate Business Decisions

Corporations are always subject to some kind of restructuring process. This could include mergers, selling of assets and bankruptcy filings. Any of these types of events among others could have an adverse effect on the prices of the corporation’s bonds. For the investor, the ultimate risk could be a complete loss in investment value.

 

Supply and Demand Issues

As mentioned before, markets forces will always affect a bond’s price. There is always the potential an investor will buy bonds at market prices only to encounter a situation where the bid/ask spread is unusually wide at the time they are trying to sell. If selling is mandatory for any reason, they might have to liquidate at the bid price, which could be significantly lower than the investor’s cost basis.

 

Inflationary Impact on Bonds

 

There are two ways investors can lose money when inflation starts rising. First, the Fed will usually react to inflation concerns by raising interest rates. As indicated in the section above, rising interest rates would likely have an adverse effect on bond prices.

The second way investors could be adversely affected by inflation is if the relevant inflation rate were to rise above an investor’s return on fixed income investments. In such a scenario, an investor might be earning 5% on their fixed income bond investments but could be losing purchasing power as inflation exceeds that same 5% mark. If an investor were to get hit by both of these inflationary scenarios at the same time, which is likely, they could take a significant hit.

While not as common, it’s worth noting that deflation, sudden changes in the Consumer Price Index and tax laws could also create losses for bond investors.

 

Investing in Bond Funds

Instead of investing in individual bond securities, investors could choose to invest in bond funds. If you are wondering what is bond fund then let me tell you it is a fund that “sells shares in the fund to investors and uses the money it raises to invest in a portfolio of bonds to meet its investment objective — typically to provide regular income.”

When an investor invests in a bond fund, they give up the ability to make buying and selling decisions other than to get in or out of the fund. The management of the fund’s portfolio falls on the shoulders of fund managers. In such cases, the investor is at the mercy of the fund manager’s investing skills.

There’s two primary scenarios that could drive a funds value down. First, a large redemption request from a large investor or group of investors could force the fund manager to “fire sell” positions to cover the redemption amount. Under the second scenario, plain and simple poor management could hurt the fund’s valuation.

 

Investing in Municipal Bonds

 

Some investors prefer to invest in municipal bonds (Munis) under the guise they trust government agencies more than they trust corporate managers. If someone invests in municipal bonds, there are two primary scenarios that can hurt a bond’s value.

 

First, tax decreases can hurt the demand for munis. When tax rates decrease, astute investors often become more willing to invest in investments that offer a higher return. They will do that because the taxes they would have to pay on such investments would be lower. If investors are selling to move investment dollars, municipal bond prices would likely drop.

 

Second, government agencies are always subject to changes in regulations, think zoning changes. If regulation changes would adversely affect a municipal bond’s underlying project, a credit rating adjustment might be prompted. That would certainly cause a bond’s price to drop.

 

None of this information is intended to dissuade investors from investing in bonds. More specifically, the information we have provided here is intended to make sure investors have a full understanding of the risks involved with bond investing.

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Finance business by choosing from a vast array of alternatives

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Author: Ravi Philemon

If you are preparing for expansion you should finance business through a SME loan – but what alternatives are out there?

By: Hitesh Khan/

Finance business by choosing from a vast array of alternatives. Debt or equity? Secured or unsecured? Are you at start-up, already launched, profitable, looking for exit / succession funding? How much resources have you committed to financing business?

To get finance business, what does a lender or investor want from someone? What are some of the myths?

Probably the most common mistake we find among those seeking financing for their business is the idea that someone else will stake them to their dreams without them taking a large share of the risk.

Think about it – how much confidence will a lender or investor have in your proposal if you don’t have enough confidence in it yourself to put your own resources at risk?

So, the most basic rule to secure business finance is to commit yourself and your savings or resources to the business.

For a start-up business, which might not be able to obtain funds on credit, the owner will have to come up with capital, such as from personal savings. No matter where else you look for funding, the money you put in is a strong sign of good faith and commitment to other lenders. Consider borrowing from friends and relatives and /or selling off surplus assets to provide the funds you need.

For an established family business, financing is often needed for expansion or to assist with transition of ownership from one generation to the next. As part of our succession management program, you should always consider the economics to “build or buy” as part of their growth strategy. Given the current economy, there are many businesses to buy – but certainly not without expert advice”.

Your business plan should tell you. Things like:

    • initial operating expenses such as utilities, rent, payroll
    • inventory and supplies to get started
    • computer system, software
    • fixing up your premises, office furniture, production equipment, delivery vehicle
    • perhaps funds to buy an existing business rather than starting from “scratch”, etc.

To secure business finance, not all of these items require cash. Alternatives include renting or leasing and even barter or exchange.

And don’t forget the important questions in financing business that go with “how much?”

    1. When do you need it? Utilities are paid after the end of the month, except for a small deposit at the beginning. Payroll is incurred weekly or monthly. Rent is usually paid along with a deposit at the beginning of the month. Inventory can be built up gradually in some cases, and suppliers often grant extended payment terms.
    2. When are you going to pay it back? You will want to earn enough to start paying operating expenses from regular cash inflow. Inventory should turn over [be sold and replaced] several times a year so that you can typically sell it and collect for the sale in around 90 days. Assets like production equipment, delivery vehicles, computer system last longer and might take around 5 years to be paid off completely.
    3. What security do you have to offer?Also known as collateral, security is what a lender has to rely on if you don’t repay. It might be business assets and / or personal assets.

Follow these tips to ensure lenders look to finance business favourably:

1. Review your credit history for business financing

Lenders will thoroughly examine both your personal and business credit history before making a credit decision. Before you approach a potential lender, request a copy of your personal credit report. If you find errors in your credit report, contact the credit bureau.

2. Gather financial documents for business finance

You will likely need tax returns and financial statements for your business if you are applying for a term loan or line of credit. For a Small Business Administration loan, you may also need to present a formal business plan.

finance business

Image credit: YouTube

3. Determine how much capital your business needs before applying for business financing

Before you walk into the lending office or fill out a credit application form, figure out exactly how much money your business needs to borrow, and make sure it’s a realistic amount. If you’re not sure how much capital to ask for, consider consulting a financial professional. He or she will closely examine your cash flow and current debt load to determine how much financing you actually need. Also, be prepared to tell the lender how you plan to use the money.

For example, you may explain that you will use the capital to pay for additional office space, furniture or equipment.

4. Understand all your lending options to finance business

It’s important to identify all the lending options available to you and determine which one is the best choice for your business. You will also want to consider the process and the timing. For example, loan decisions below $100,000 may be based on your credit profile and basic information, while larger amounts may require a detailed review of your finances.

5. Consider payment terms for business financing

You also have to decide how long you will need to repay your credit. There are short-, medium-, and long-term loans, and they all have positives and negatives. For example, if you expect to be able to pay back the money quickly, a short-term loan may be the best choice.

While preparing to apply for credit, you’ll need to gather key information and required business documents to support your application. The requirements will vary greatly depending on the type and amount of credit, from basic information for a credit card to full financials for a major term loan.

For more complex loans, you may need to provide additional information. For example, in the case of a commercial real estate loan you will need to provide some property related documentation.

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Risk Parity: For Those Who Know They Need to Invest Yet Protect Their Capital Well

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https://www.drwealth.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-drwealth-favicon-32×32.jpg Author: Irving Soh

2020 only just started. But for many stock investors, it may seem like an eternity. … Read more >>
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Tax payment digitalisation sees 20 per cent reduction in cheque volumes

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Author: Ravi Philemon

Move towards tax payment digitalisation sees DBS and IRAS working towards Singapore’s target to be cheque-free by 2025

By: Phoenix Lee/

In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda, DBS Bank announced in October 2019, that it is collaborating with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) towards tax payment digitalisation and collections via PayNow to encourage more businesses to go cheque-free.

IRAS first introduced PayNow as an option for businesses to receive Wage Credit Scheme(WCS) payouts in March, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction in cheque volumes to-date. Before the implementation of PayNow, about half of WCS-eligible businesses, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), chose to receive their payouts via cheques.

tax payment digitalisation

Next phase in tax payment digitalisation will see stamp duty services being digitalised 

Under the WCS introduced in Budget 2013 and extended in Budget 2015, the Government co-funded 40% of wage increases from 2013-2015 and 20% of wage increases from 2016-2017 given to Singapore Citizen employees who earned a gross monthly wage of up to $4,000. Only employers are eligible for the co-funding. In Budget 2018, it was announced that the WCS would be extended for three more years (2018, 2019 and 202) to support businesses embarking on transformation efforts and encourage sharing of productivity gains with workers. Government co-funding was maintained at 20% in 2018. Subsequently, the co-funding ratio stepped down to 15% in 2019 and 10% in 2020. All other qualifying conditions will be unchanged.

Ms Ang Sor Tjing, Director of IRAS’ Revenue and Payment Management Branch said, “Implementing PayNow for the disbursement of the scheme’s payouts helps encourage businesses, many of which comprise SMEs, to go chequeless and transition towards digital payments. As part of IRAS’ digitalisation drive, we are also working with DBS to expand the use of PayNow to more services for the convenience of businesses and individuals.”

Mr Raof Latiff, Group Head of Digital, Institutional Banking Group, DBS Bank said, “Acceptance of digital transactions among individuals in Singapore has been well established. To bring Singapore’s digital agenda to fruition, it is critical to encourage SMEs to get on board the digital payments train as they represent 99 per cent of businesses locally. Partnering with statutory boards like IRAS is one of the key ways to encourage this shift, with them leading the way by digitalising payments and collections channels across their suite of services.”

For the next phase in tax payment digitalisation, both parties are working together to leverage DBS’ APIs (application programming interface) to digitalise IRAS’ stamp duty services.

Currently, most taxpayers tend to pay for conveyancing stamp duty via cheques and have to wait several days for the cheque to be cleared before a stamp duty certificate is issued. (Conveyancing stamp duty refers to taxes relating to the purchase of a property.) However, with DBS’ Direct Debit Authorisation (DDA) API, taxpayers can set up a GIRO account online, and make payment for their stamp duty and receive a stamp certificate through IRAS’ e-Stamping Portal instantly.

In addition, with a transfer limit of SGD200,000 per transaction, the DBS DDA solution also enables IRAS to digitalise payments for the majority of conveyancing stamp duty transactions. This new DDA e-payment option for conveyancing stamp duty will be launched in November, and more details can be found on the IRAS website closer to the launch date.

“Besides stamp duty payments, with cashless payments gaining momentum in Singapore, taxpayers are encouraged to use cashless or electronic payment modes such as GIRO and online banking to fulfil their other tax obligations,” said Ms Ang.

DBS continues to see traction from SMEs in the adoption of PayNow

DBS currently banks more than one in two SMEs in Singapore and continues to see healthy interest from the segment to digitalise their businesses.

Since PayNow was launched to corporates in August last year, DBS has seen a steady increase in SMEs adopting the digital payment collections solution, with the bank holding close to 40 per cent of the market share by registrations to date. From a transactions perspective, DBS’ corporate clients contribute to more than half of PayNow Corporate receipts in Singapore, with volumes from the bank’s SME customers growing threefold to date.

This was mainly driven by healthy take-up of the bank’s PayNow-integrated QR payment solution, DBS MAX, which led to a doubling in digital payment and collection transactions by SMEs since the solution was launched in November 2018.

“Singapore has continued to show steady progress in the adoption of digital payments on the back of the government’s continuous push to become a Smart Nation. However, in order to fulfil Singapore’s ambition to go chequeless by 2025, we need to continue to innovate and explore new ways to help ease businesses, especially SMEs, into the digital future, while providing them the support they need to face the challenges ahead,” said Mr Latiff.

To this end, DBS has invested more than 100 hours this year in customer workshops to educate business owners on the benefits of digital payment solutions such as DBS MAX, and targets to ramp up the adoption of DBS MAX among its SME clients by five times by end 2020.

Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said, “the move towards tax payment digitalisation is a good one. The property and loans industries are being massively disrupted by technology and Singapore has to keep up or we will lose our relevance in a rapidly changing world.”

The post Tax payment digitalisation sees 20 per cent reduction in cheque volumes appeared first on iCompareLoan Resources.

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Stamp duty – five countries’ residents treatment is same as Singaporeans

Click on Stamp duty – five countries’ residents treatment is same as Singaporeans
for the source.
Author: Ravi Philemon

Did you know that nationals or Permanent Residents of five countries are accorded the same Stamp Duty treatment as Singapore Citizens? The nationals from these five countries, just like Singapore citizens, are exempt from the current rate of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) levied on foreigners when they purchase residential properties. The ABSD for foreigner in Singapore is 20%.

stamp dutyFor Singapore Citizens, as far as stamp duty treatment is concerned, there is no ABSD on their first residential property.

For the second residential property, the ABSD rate is 12% and 15% for their third and any subsequent residential properties. Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) will be charged 5% ABSD on their first property and 15% for their second and subsequent residential properties.

As a result of Free Trade Agreements signed by the Singapore Government, nationals and permanent residents of these five countries are accorded the same Stamp Duty treatment as Singapore Citizens. The Free Trade Agreements signed with the United States of America and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), provides these exemptions to the residents of these countries.

Those who are able to enjoy this remission of ABSD are:

  1. Nationals of the United States of America; and
  2. Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

This means that if you are a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or United States of America, instead of paying an additional 20% for the ABSD, you do not need to pay any ABSD at all on your first residential property purchase in Singapore. And instead of 20%, the ABSD would be 12% for your second residential property and 15% for your third and subsequent properties.

This applies to only private non-landed residential properties, as foreigners are not allowed to purchase and own land in Singapore with the only exception being the luxurious water-front bungalows on Sentosa Cove.

Foreign investors who are eligible can submit an application of remission through their legal representative who can manage their stamp duty treatment and transactions with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) on your behalf.

The Government announced new property cooling measures in July last year. The measures saw adjustments to stamp duty treatment where the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates and Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits on residential property purchases, to cool the property market and keep price increases in line with economic fundamentals.

After declining gradually for close to 4 years, private residential prices began rising in 3Q2017. Prices have increased sharply by 9.1% over the past year. Demand for private residential property has also seen a strong recovery, as transaction volumes continue to rise.

The Government said the new stamp duty treatment was necessary to check sharp increase in prices, which could run ahead of economic fundamentals and raise the risk of a destabilising correction later, especially with rising interest rates and the strong pipeline of housing supply. The new property cooling measures introduced by the Government includes raising the ABSD rates and tighten LTV limits for residential property purchases.

The Government made the following changes to ABSD rates:

a.    Raise ABSD by 5%-points for all other individuals; and

b.    Raise ABSD by 10%-points for entities; and

c.     Introduce an additional ABSD of 5% that is non-remittable under the Remission Rules (payable on the purchase price or market value, as applicable) for developers purchasing residential properties for housing development.

LTV limits were also tightened by 5%-points for all housing loans granted by financial institutions. These revised LTV limits do not apply to loans granted by HDB. The LTV Limit will be 25 years, where the property purchased is a HDB flat.

The tightened LTV limits applies to loans for the purchase of residential properties where the OTP is granted on or after 6 July 2018. In line with the tightening of LTV limits for housing loans, LTV limits for mortgage equity withdrawal loans (MWLs) was tightened as follows:

a.    75% for a borrower with no outstanding housing loan for the purchase of another residential property; and

b.    45% for a borrower with an outstanding housing loan for the purchase of another residential property.

The Government said that it will continue to monitor the property market and adjust its policies as necessary, to maintain a stable and sustainable property market.It added that it was very concerned that prices are running ahead of economic fundamentals. The government noted that it has to avoid a sharp correction later as there is also a large supply of units coming on stream and interest rates are going up.

In July 2018, the Government new property cooling measures. The measures saw adjustments to the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates and Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits on residential property purchases, to cool the property market and keep price increases in line with economic fundamentals.

After declining gradually for close to 4 years, private residential prices began rising in 3Q2017. Prices have increased sharply by 9.1% over the past year. Demand for private residential property has also seen a strong recovery, as transaction volumes continue to rise.

The Government said the new property cooling measures were necessary to check sharp increase in prices, which could run ahead of economic fundamentals and raise the risk of a destabilising correction later, especially with rising interest rates and the strong pipeline of housing supply. The new property cooling measures introduced by the Government includes raising the ABSD rates and tighten LTV limits for residential property purchases.

Market watchers suggested that the 2018 property cooling measures were introduced after the aggressive bidding for land by developers resulted in the Government worrying that this could result in a supply imbalance and weight on the market.

The post Stamp duty – five countries’ residents treatment is same as Singaporeans appeared first on iCompareLoan Resources.