As it turns out, company incorporation is only the first step to setting up a business in Singapore. Once you’re done, you’ll still be required to comply with a couple of post-registration essentials, key among which is the opening of a bank account in Singapore.
This is one of those critical conditions that apply across the board. Both residents and foreigners are expected to register a corporate account with one of the many domestic and international banks based in Singapore.
Here’s the kicker though — although the process of opening a corporate bank account in Singapore sounds easy and straightforward, there are many important factors that come into play.
This corporate guide walks you through everything — from the basics of Singaporean corporate accounts to the bank account opening requirements, plus the primary considerations you should make as you select an ideal corporate bank and account. We’ve also included a step-to-step tutorial on how to open a corporate bank account in Singapore.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Why Should You Open A Corporate Bank Account?
You can think of your corporate bank account as the company’s treasure chest or vault. It holds your business finances separate from your personal funds, allowing you to conveniently process transactions, as well as manage expenses, cash flows, and assets.
With such a framework, it even becomes easy to keep your business liabilities away from your personal finances. Plus, you get to file your corporate taxes accordingly, after drawing the business income figures from your account.
And speaking of which, you’ll also notice that Singaporean banks have structured their corporate accounts to facilitate easy management of business funds. You can, for instance, open a multi-currency account for handling international money transfers. You also get the benefit of using trade financing, credit cards, internet banking, etc.
Then to help you track all the monies accordingly, Singaporean banks provide detailed financial statements — with accurate insights into not only your account balance, but also the company’s expenses and overall financial performance.
That said, it’s worth noting that “corporate account” is just a blanket term for various business accounts in Singapore. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that the account options here are quite different, with varying privileges and restrictions.
Now, to help you identify the most ideal bank account for your company, we’ll start from the top, with the bank selection process. Before even opening a corporate bank account, what exactly should you consider when choosing a bank?
How To Choose The Right Bank For You
- Products and Services: While Singapore is a land of many banks, the bank themselves offer different types of products and services. So, you might want to review your bank options based on their respective account types, as well as the products and services that come with them. Pay very keen attention to loan products like asset finance, risk management provisions, as well as wealth management solutions like superannuation and insurance.
- Bank Rating and Reputation: With Singapore being a global business hub, both international and domestic credit rating agencies have been keeping a close eye on the performance of its banks. Hence, you can go ahead and assess the creditworthiness and reliability of various banks by their rating scores. Fitch Ratings, for example, provides a great reference point for each bank’s credit profiles.
- Account Access Channels and Data Security: Check and confirm the types of bank account access channels supported by the banks. The most accessible corporate banks provide online banking or channels, as well as phone and ATM banking. What’s more, businesses get to integrate their online payment gateways with the banks’ merchant accounts. And while you review all these parameters, pay close attention to each bank’s data security measures.
- Branch Locations: It’s always a good idea to settle for a corporate bank with branches positioned conveniently close to your business premises. This allows you to physically access the banking products with ease, as well as work closely with the banks’ support staff when maintaining or making transaction with your bank account.
- Area of Specialization: Each business field has its fair share of unique challenges and needs. So, to manage them accordingly, you might want to stick with a specialized corporate bank that knows the ins and outs of your particular niche. If you’re venturing into international trade, for instance, you should prioritize international commercial banks.
- Customer Service: A good bank is one that listens to you, understands all your needs, and commits its resources to providing relevant personalized solutions. As such, you should be able to access its customer support personnel across multiple contact channels at any time of the day or night. Plus, it might help to open a bank account in a bank that offers its corporate customers a dedicated account manager.
- Automated Banking Services: For increased convenience, your corporate bank account should come with automated banking services. And by this, we mean that the bank ought to automate its basic day-to-day operations such as check scanning, payment processing, invoicing, and payroll processing. This translates to seamless banking for all types of businesses.
- Account Charges and Interest Rates: Singaporean banks apply different charges and rates to not only their corporate accounts, but also the corresponding transactions and operations. What’s more, it just so happens that the fee schedules vary extensively across the board. You’ll find different rates for loans, account deposits, account withdrawals, inter-bank transfers, foreign currency remittances, telegraphic transfers, etc. And when you combine and review them, your ideal bank should offer the best value in the specific services and products you’re interested in.
Using these parameters, you should be able to point out the best banks for your Singaporean bank account. But, it doesn’t stop there. You can expect more deliberations in the subsequent account opening process.
Things To Consider When Opening A Corporate Bank Account
- Corporate Account Type: Banks in Singapore tend to offer different types of corporate accounts, each with its own set of provisions, rates, privileges, and restrictions. Hence, the best approach here would be choosing an account type based on your specific business structure and needs. Online-based businesses, for example, might want to go for ecommerce merchant accounts with competitive transaction processing rates.
- Initial Deposit Amount: Some corporate bank accounts come with set-up costs in the form of initial deposit amounts. This is the predetermined sum of money required in a new account to make it operational. And, as it turns out, the initial deposit amount for corporate accounts in Singapore typically ranges between S$0 and S$3,000.
- Minimum Balance: Apart from the initial deposit amount, corporate accounts come with minimum balance restrictions. You can think of this as the lowest amount allowed in an operational account at any given moment. Otherwise, you risk attracting additional fees, or possibly losing some of the account features if you fail to maintain the minimum balance. And so, what you choose here will ultimately have a huge impact on your company’s cash flows.
- Supported Currencies: While the Singapore Dollar is the city-state’s base currency, its banks are flexible enough to support corporate accounts in different currencies. And since each currency is subject to own exchange rates and charges, you should confirm your account’s currency variables before signing the dotted line. Multinational corporations, in particular, may wish to proceed with an account that supports foreign currency transactions.
What Are The Things You Need To Open A Corporate Bank Account In Singapore?
Come to think of it, the account opening procedure in Singapore is a lot like company incorporation- you can only proceed if your company meets a distinct set of requirements.
Such conditions, as you’ll come to notice, vary from one bank to another. Plus, you’re bound to find a couple of variations here and there between different types of corporate accounts.
That notwithstanding, however, there are several standard requirements that apply across the board when opening bank accounts in Singapore. Most banks, for instance, require:
- All account signatories to be physically present.
- A majority of the directors to be physically present.
- A few banks may be open to remote account opening in their overseas branches, or possibly in front of a Notary Public.
The account paperwork should then be accompanied by the following documentation:
- Certified true copies of the passports or identity cards of the company’s directors and account signatories.
- Certified true copies detailing the residential addresses of the company’s directors and signatories.
- A certified true copy of the company’s constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association. This should be certified by one of the directors or the company’s secretary.
- A certified true copy of the company’s Business Profile, issued by ACRA and ratified by one of the directors or the company’s secretary.
- A certified true copy of the company’s Certificate of Incorporation, signed and ratified by one of the directors or the company’s secretary.
- A certified true copy of the resolution statement sanctioning the corporate account opening plus its signatories. Your bank will give you its preferred resolution format for signing.
- A resolution statement from the board of directors sanctioning the account opening and the account signatories.
- Duly filled out corporate account opening forms, signed by all the signatories identified in the attached resolution statements.
How Can You Open A Corporate Bank Account: A Step-By-Step Guide
Your account opening procedure depends on not only the bank’s policies, but also your selected account type, company structure, and application channel.
Now, the good thing here is, you can conduct the process online. However, this option comes with a multitude of caveats. Plus, it turns out only a handful of Singaporean banks are open to the idea.
The rest require applicants to be physically present for all the paperwork. And sadly, there are no exceptions here — even signatories based in foreign countries are compelled to fly into Singapore, and then make their way to the bank.
In that case, here’s the step by step application procedure to open a corporate bank account:
- Start by registering the business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Once the application sails through, you’ll receive a business registration number in the form of a Unique Entity Number (UEN).
- Log into ACRA’s BizFile system and purchase your company’s physical Certificate of Incorporation along with the accompanying Business Profile.
- Appoint a company secretary.
- Hold a board meeting and appoint account signatories.
- Fill in the board resolution document, stating the identities of all the appointed signatories.
- Make copies of each account opening documentation- proof of residential address, identity cards, passports, certificate of incorporation, business profile, board resolution, etc.
- Certify each of the documents accordingly. You can have the directors or company secretaries ratifying and signing them.
- Book an appointment with your selected bank and make your way to one of its branches. Ensure other directors and appointed signatories tag along.
- The bank’s representatives will give you registration forms plus a resolution template for sanctioning the account opening.
- Fill in the account opening forms along with the resolution statement, attach all the required company documents, and submit everything to the bank’s corporate account department.
- The bank will then take some time to review and verify your personal and business information. The waiting time here varies from one bank to another- some banks take only a couple of hours to analyze and approve applications from locals, while foreigners, on the other hand, could be forced to wait for weeks.
- Once the application is approved, the business can begin using its new corporate account immediately.
And there you have it. All the basics of opening a corporate bank account in Singapore.
Overall, you could say things here are pretty easy and straightforward for Singapore residents. Foreigners are not so lucky though — some of the requirements we’ve mentioned could potentially turn this whole procedure into a costly logistical nightmare.
But, thankfully, you can save yourself all that trouble by simply taking advantage of WealthBridge’s specialized corporate services. Trust our experts to guide you accordingly and handle all the essentials on your behalf.