Blending the best of technology with the essence of humanity
The Edge Singapore’s Billion Dollar Club Awards have shone a spotlight on Sing Investments & Finance (SIF). In the Centurion Club sector for companies with a market capitalisation of less than $1 billion, SIF won three awards. It was the overall winner in the Banking & Investment Services, Collective Investments, Fintech & Infrastructure, and Insurance categories. It also clinched the awards for the highest shareholder returns over a three-year period and the increase in post-tax profits over the same duration.
SIF, a 60-year-old company, is one of the three finance companies listed on the Singapore Exchange . “As a heritage finance institution with close to 60 years of experience and counting, we bring with us strong roots in finance that abide by authenticity, integrity, and sincerity. With a human-first approach, we endeavour to always provide trusted and greater financing solutions to our customers,” says Lee Sze Leong, who is the managing director and CEO of SIF.
As a finance company licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, SIF offers a full spectrum of financial products and services which include accepting fixed and savings deposits from the public, and providing loans and credit facilities to individuals and corporations, particularly local SMEs. The company’s customer base is well-diversified, spanning various business sectors and industries.
The relationship managers (RMs) in SIF provide a one-stop service to both its corporate and individual customers and, as such, have a complete picture and a good understanding of the SMEs and their directors. “We position ourselves as personal banker to both SME and individual customers through building a more personalised and trusted relationship,” Lee says.
Customised services and a healthy loan book
The RMs go above and beyond to understand customers’ unique needs, and are able to craft tailor-made financing solutions that align with customers’ requirements. “By striving to gain a deep understanding of our customers’ businesses and needs, our nimble and agile approach enables us to offer customised solutions to smoothen their business workflow, effectively taking care of their entire end-to-end process — a rarity in today’s financial sector — instead of having a one-size-fits-all approach,” Lee says.
SIF currently serves its customers from four physical branches, and also digitally. Its branches are strategically located at 96 Robinson Road, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6, Bedok North Street 1 and Jurong Gateway Road.
Lending to SMEs ranks among SIF’s core businesses. In FY2022, its loan book expanded in line with the economic recovery. As at end-June 2023, SIF’s loan book stood at $2.366 billion compared to its deposit base of $2.864 billion, translating into a loan-to-deposit ratio of 82.6%.
As at June 30, SIF’s non-performing loan ratio is just 0.8%. Meanwhile, SIF’s net profit after tax in FY2022 has increased by 153% from 10 years ago, giving an annual 10% CAGR. To celebrate SIF’s long-term performance, this year, its board of directors rewarded shareholders with a dividend of 10 cents per share — the highest in recent years — and a one-for-two bonus issue.
SIF serves its customers from four physical branches, including SIF Building at 96 Robinson Road, and also digitally
The digital stack
The company has overhauled its core banking system into one that is digitally enabled. SIF rolled out its retail mobile app, SIF Mobile, in 2019 with biometric access control. It also rolled out its business mobile app, SIF Biz, in 2022, making it the first of the three finance companies to have both apps for their customers. These apps offer a suite of online services.
The retail app, SIF Mobile, allows customers to open savings and fixed deposit accounts; perform fund transfers via FAST; and view their transaction history and e-statements, loan details, alert notifications, and more. The SIF Biz app allows business customers to perform online fund transfers via FAST; place fixed deposits; view account information, transaction history and cheque status; make loan payments and redemptions; approve transactions and loan payments; view alert notifications — all online — and more.
SIF’s strategy is to integrate digital technologies into business processes, customer interactions, and product offerings whenever possible. “The aim is to enhance efficiency, improve our customers’ experiences, and create new business opportunities for the company. We see that this is important, as a robust digitalisation strategy can help position the company ahead of its competitors, especially in the era where customers increasingly expect seamless, quick, and convenient solutions,” Lee says.
“We believe that digitalisation, when properly implemented, can help lower costs, increase scalability, improve the customer experience, and enable the company to reach a wider group of customers,” Lee adds.
Digitalisation has enabled the company to leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to further improve its efficiency, services and effectiveness to face fierce banking competition.
AI automation tools are used to streamline processes and reduce manual tasks, increasing productivity, reducing errors and saving time. “We also leverage data analytics to monitor regulatory compliance. This helps us remain compliant,” Lee says.
The SIF board of directors plays a key role in overseeing the implementation of its ESG and climate risk framework and policies, and also in setting the right tone at the top to embrace policies and practices that promote sustainability, good governance, and corporate social responsibility. These include being environmentally friendly; promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace; treating employees with respect; giving back to the community via corporate programmes for the underprivileged; and ensuring business decisions are ethical.
As SIF looks to the future, it will continue to build on its strong SME franchise and grow its business with integrity and a high standard of business ethics. At the same time, SIF will strive to be responsive to its customers’ needs by offering the best of technology with the essence of humanity to fulfil their financing needs and establishing itself as their trusted financial ally.