If you’ve ever thought about combining a BVI company with a Singapore bank account, then listen up. In this article, we’re going to break down what you NEED to know before trying to open a bank account for a BVI company in Singapore.
Yes, it’s more difficult than it was five years ago. And the process is often grueling, expensive, and laced with hidden landmines – if you don’t know what you’re doing. These mistakes sink many first-time entrepreneurs, sizable businesses, and even investors.
But it doesn’t have to be this way…
Over the past year, we’ve seen countless BVI companies fail to open bank accounts in Singapore and lose thousands of dollars in the process. And, even worse, it happened for totally unnecessary (and completely fixable!) reasons.
In this article, we’ll explain why this is happening, where most BVI companies go wrong, and how to fix it. We’ll uncover some of the hidden pitfalls, mistakes, and application killers that offshore companies (and especially BVI companies) miss when trying to open corporate accounts in Singapore.
Why do so many foreign companies want to open bank accounts in Singapore? There are lot’s reasons, but here are some of the most popular:
Why do so many BVI companies fail to open Singapore bank accounts?
Most people go in blind and unprepared. In other words, they rush through the account application, give careless answers, and don’t understand the bank’s preferences and sensitivities.
Result? Most people end up red-flagging themselves (and their companies) as “high-risk” and “undesirable” while they’re still in the application stage. So more often than not, they end up getting rejected.
Even worse is the fact that most company owners are puzzled. They don’t even know why or what they did wrong.
Before moving on, if you want to get started opening bank accounts for your business right now, download your FREE copy of the Business Banking Starter Guide from GlobalBanks.
Below is a quick snapshot of common problems that BVI companies face in Singapore (and why so many end up rejected and bank account-less). We hope this list helps to demystify the situation and gives you some insight into why so many BVI companies struggle to open Singapore bank accounts.
There’s a lot of misinformation about banking options for BVI companies on the internet. And, bank introducers and intermediaries only add to the confusion.
Unfortunately, much of the information available to the public about BVI company banking is either false, so outdated it no longer applies, or from sources with conflicting interests. That’s why understanding the introducer hustle is important, which you can read more here.
Here are the misinformation trends that everyone with a BVI company should be aware of:
It’s super common for corporate service providers who make money by selling structures (or BVI companies), to say that opening a bank account is “easy.” Why? People are more likely to buy a company if it’s easy to open a bank account. On the other hand, if people think it’s going to be tough to open a bank account, they’ll probably incorporate elsewhere.
Another common tactic amongst corporate service providers (CSPs) is to advertise “remote opening in Singapore” for offshore companies, such as BVI, Seychelles, Belize, and others. To consumers, the offer is attractive since companies from these jurisdictions struggle to open bank accounts. But here’s what usually happens: the CSP registers an offshore company for you, adds a nominee director or shareholder, and then the nominee attempts to open the corporate bank account in Singapore. Costs range from inflated to absurd, $5,000 to over $10,000. The catch: whether or not the bank account is opened, the CSP’s fees are exactly the same.
Many introducers claim they can “pre-approve” your BVI company for a Singapore bank account, for a fee of course. This is humorous. Why? An unregulated introducer can’t “pre-approved” anything.
Singapore has some of the strongest, most well-capitalized banks in the world. Singapore banks are also well regulated and have very specific compliance protocols. And, Singaporean banks don’t allow third-party introducers to be involved in any aspect of the bank’s internal compliance process.
So, if a CSP tells you they have the authority to “pre-approve” your BVI company for a bank account in Singapore, they’re probably lying. Ask whether the bank is actually issuing the “pre-approval.” Or, is this “pre-approval” something that the CSP is making up to justify a hefty $2,000 payment for a single “bank account introduction” to a Singaporean bank that doesn’t even require an introducer? Most likely the latter.
If you’re already a GlobalBanks Insider, you can read how to overcome all of these challenges in the following premium reports: Offshore Company Banking & Singapore Banking Report, and much more in the members’ area of the website. To learn how you can get access, click here.
Singapore banks can smell fake businesses, risky ventures, and unprofitable clients from miles away.
That’s because Singapore bankers are smart, byproducts of the Singaporean education system, which is ranked as one of the best and most rigorous in the world. Translation? Home-grown Singaporean bankers follow rules and can do the math. So, don’t try to outsmart Singaporean bankers, Singapore banks, and their compliance systems. You will fail.
Also, keep in mind: Singapore banks put every new applicant through the same, standardized compliance system. Almost all banks will ask you to submit your application and documents online for an initial evaluation. And this is where many BVI companies fail.
If your BVI company looks and sounds like a compliance problem, then it probably is (in the eyes of Singapore banks). And, Singapore banks aren’t going to tell you this. Instead, they’re just going to reject you after you spend $2,000 flying to Singapore for an in-person meeting.
Many BVI company owners misread this as a positive signal that the bank is interested in your company business. In reality, the banks say this to everyone. It is a standard compliance protocol.
Here’s what typically happens…
If the owner of the BVI company has citizenship or residency in a “high-risk” country, then the BVI company will struggle to open a bank account in Singapore. Each bank usually has a list of countries that they will not deal with. If the company transacts (or trades) with individuals or businesses in these countries, or if the shareholders or directors have ties to these countries, the risk-level of the BVI company increases as does the likelihood of rejection.
Usually, there is a big disconnect about what is considered a high-risk business. For example, many people with high-risk businesses are blissfully unaware that they even have one. And, for this reason, they’re often puzzled when they’re rejected by banks. Check out our article about high-risk businesses to learn more. A few examples are:
If you have a BVI company and want to open a Singapore bank account, it’s critical that you choose the right bank. Very few Singapore banks accept foreign companies (much less offshore companies), especially if they don’t have economic substance or ties to Singapore. So, bank selection is key.
If your BVI company doesn’t have any connection to Singapore or the surrounding region, then by default, it’s deemed a higher risk. In addition, you should also have a justifiable reason for wanting to open a bank account there. Literally, the reason you give will be factored into your company’s overall risk score. We discuss this, along with all the nuances of Singapore account opening and banking in greater detail in the Singapore Banking Report here.
Many people with BVI companies who get rejected by Singapore banks often kick themselves afterward when they realize the importance of their supporting documents and application answers.
More specifically, many new entrepreneurs often overlook the importance of supporting agreements and paperwork. They rush through their application answers, give off the cuff answers when meeting with the bank, and slap together their documents. These documents, however, are important because they prove that you and your business are credible, verifiable, and real.
If you need help sorting out your banking options, are struggling with account opening, or just aren’t sure where to turn, we can help.
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