8 in 10 SMEs want more business incentives to help address urgent challenges

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DBS poll reveals SMEs still plagued by manpower issues and high cost of doing business in Singapore

SINGAPORE,15 February 2019 -

A dipstick poll conducted by DBS over the last week revealed that SMEs[1] in Singapore are looking to the government to give them a leg-up in supporting their business growth this year. Eight in 10 said they are expecting more business incentives to be announced at the upcoming Budget announcement. 

This is because challenges such as manpower issues (26.5%), high operational costs (21.5%) and growing business revenue (21%) in a difficult economic environment continue to plague SMEs. 

Push for re-training and upskilling gains momentum
While SMEs continue to grapple with manpower challenges such as hiring the right people (43%) and retaining employees (27%), four in five SMEs said their employees are now equipped with the right skills for the job. The government’s SkillsFuture efforts are also paying off as nine in 10 SMEs polled said that they now have access to affordable training programmes. 

“Many of our SMEs customers have channelled resources to upskilling their employees so that they can improve their overall productivity and efficiency. The benefits reaped are plentiful, and they can now focus their efforts on other parts of their business, such as growing their revenue and expanding overseas,” said Joyce Tee, Group Head of SME Banking, DBS Bank. 

With their employees armed with the tools and resources to drive business growth, SMEs are now focused on maintaining/growing market share (30%), growing their business revenue (29%), and developing their digital business capabilities (23%). 

Overseas expansion on the horizon 
Despite Singapore’s domestic economy slowing and global trade uncertainties looming, 18% of SMEs polled are looking to expand overseas this year. However, 55% of SMEs cited the lack of market knowledge and understanding of regulatory requirements as the main challenges of overseas expansion. A quarter said that they could not find the right partner to collaborate with. 

With these challenges ahead, seven in 10 SMEs are turning to government agencies for advice. 27% are seeking guidance on partnerships and business grants, 24% on internationalisation and scaling up their business and 19% are looking forward to receiving assistance on tax-related matters. 

“Even though smaller businesses typically require more assistance in weathering storms, innovation, nimbleness and the ability to adapt to change quickly will enable SMEs to thrive in uncertain times,” said Tee. 

[1]DBS conducted a pre-Budget survey with 150 SME clients.

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About DBS
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia, with over 280 branches across 18 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS has a growing presence in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world. 

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker and “Best Bank in the World” by Global Finance. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for ten consecutive years from 2009 to 2018.

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, and positively impacting communities through supporting social enterprises, as it banks the Asian way. It has also established a SGD 50 million foundation to strengthen its corporate social responsibility efforts in Singapore and across Asia.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. The bank acknowledges the passion, commitment and can-do spirit in all of our 26,000 staff, representing over 40 nationalities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.