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Online Corporate Secretarial Services in Singapore 2021 – How Do They Rate Against Each Other
As towkays who have set up their own company can attest, navigating through all the necessary corporate processes can be a huge hassle. From incorporating the company to ensuring that it meets all its statutory requirements, including good corporate governance and immaculate bookkeeping, it can feel overwhelming to handle everything by yourselves.
Of course, hiring professional accounting services and other corporate services has always been an option, but that can still be prohibitively expensive and troublesome. With the advent of the digital revolution, however, the provision of online corporate services has made it much more cost effective and convenient. Some firms have even managed to combine all these services into one digital corporate package, making it even more attractive to engage their services instead of sourcing out different vendors for different services.
How to choose a digital accounting firm/online corporate secretary
Choosing one of these is akin to picking a business partner who will handle the important back office of the business, so it stands to reason that said partner should be trustworthy, qualified, and experienced.
The firm should be compliant with the Government’s requirements for offering accounting services, preferably employing certified accountants who would be familiar with the regulations in Singapore. In addition, it is crucial that the firm is familiar with IRAS tax regulations as well and can ensure that all statutory tax filings will be made without error or delay.
And of course, while expertise and experience come at a premium the cost of engaging these services should absolutely be taken into account as well. It is important that the firm provides a clear and consistent payment plan with no hidden fees or sudden extra charges.
With all that in mind, here are some of the best online corporate services providers in Singapore.
The 4 Best Online Corporate Secretarial Services in Singapore (in no particular order):
Formerly known as Xibo, Counto is a homegrown fintech startup Accounting services firm that is using AI to fundamentally transform accounting and tax services for small businesses. Founded by Singaporean technologists and finance executives with decades of experience working at Google, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan, Counto was the first accounting service in the world to offer unlimited transaction accounting plans when it launched its service in February 2020. Counto’s plans are fixed to your revenues which means that their interests are aligned towards growing your business. The uniqueness doesn’t end there.Counto also boasts of having an IRAS approved tax software and a GST filing service they have co-developed with IRAS.
All this automation has allowed Counto to lower the costs for services dramatically in the market. For example, Counto’s incorporation package combines company incorporation, company secretarial services, bookkeeping, and accounting support for infinite transactions into one complete package for only S$125 a month. Not only is this pricing much simpler to understand, it also comes in at great value. Consider this: an Unlimited Corporate Secretary Package that includes free incorporation coupled with a starter accounting package from Osome would cost S$1,800 a year. It would also cost the same to engage Sleek’s services, and that is only assuming the company only has one shareholder, albeit with a wider range of services. Counto makes it much easier to calculate its cost; S$125 per month is S$1,500 a year. That makes it come out on top in terms of cost.
For businesses that require a higher touch, Counto’s Virtual CFO service comes with advanced analytics, payroll, vendor management, bill payment, advisory, real time support and more through the Counto platform. Again, this service is value for money as it begins from $500/mo if your annual revenues are below $500,000 a year.
The uniqueness doesn’t end there. Counto’s workforce is 70% women which means you will get more empathy for the pain points you experience in your business.
Founded in 2017, Osome (pronounced “awesome”) offers a full range of services consisting of company registration, corporate secretarial services, accounting, and bookkeeping. Having raised more than US$5 million in venture capital funding, Osome’s star appears to be on the rise, and its services don’t look too shabby, with more than 10 years experiences and all its accountants certified by ISCA.
For incorporation, Osome offers a fully comprehensive package that includes registering your company with ACRA, providing a company constitution that recognises up to three shareholders, and covers all government charges within the package.
A Basic Package for corporate secretarial services costs S$300 a year and covers the rudimentary duties like annual ACRA filings and preparation for AGM. The more comprehensive Unlimited Package, coming in at S$600 a year, takes care of the more advanced duties such as filing changes to directors, shareholders and addresses as well as issuance of new shares and dividend distributions. The Unlimited Package also comes with free company incorporation, which is a good deal if you are looking to register a new company.
Lastly, an accounting subscription service costs S$600 a year for a basic package that allows for 40 transactions a year (which may be sufficient for a small business just starting out), while their starter package from S$1,200 a year covers 480 transactions and you even get a personal accountant/bookkeeper assigned to you.
Sleek offers “hassle-free” company secretary services and accounting services in Singapore through their 100 percent online platform. Sleek stands out due to its different pricing scheme. Whereas companies like Osome charge based on the level of service, Sleek’s charges are based on the number of shareholders the company has. Generally, Sleek is more cost friendly than its competitors if the company has only one shareholder but will be more expensive if the company has more shareholders.
This is true for incorporation and corporate secretarial services, where one shareholder will cost $300 a year, while 10 shareholders will cost $780 a year. Unlike Osome’s two-tier system, Sleek offers unlimited access to their secretarial services once you sign up, which represents greater value than Osome’s basic plan but only if the number of shareholders remains low.
For accounting, Sleek’s mini package has a limit of 60 transactions a year, which is better than Osome while priced similarly at S$600 annually. Its starter package is averagely priced. Overall, it would appear that Sleek is a much more attractive option if one is a small company with a low number of shareholders.
**Updated on Aug 2021: Sleek has since made significant changes to their pricing schemes. Incorporation services are now charged at S$350, inclusive of government fees. For accounting and bookkeeping, instead of an annual pricing which limits the number of transactions a year, it now charges a monthly fee based on the amount of monthly expenses of the company. Prices start at S$75 per month, for up to S$2,500 of monthly expenses.
With a Cambridge University alumnus and a Forbes 30 Under 30 listee as its founders, Cabin possesses a pedigree that is hard to match. It also offers a wider range of services than its competitors. However, its pricing system can be a little opaque.
Incorporation services, for example, is charged at S$150, which is significantly cheaper than anyone else. However, it is likely that this does not include government charges, making it not as good a deal as it initially seems. It is advisable to contact Cabin for clarification before deciding to engage them to help register your company.
**Updated on Aug 2021: Cabin has now indicated on their website that the charges for their incorporation services, which begins at S$150, does not include statutory filing fees and name registration fees. These cost an additional S$315, bringing the initial cost to a total of S$465. This makes it markedly more expensive than the other companies listed here.
Similarly, a corporate secretary can be engaged at S$425 a year. This includes a dedicated account manager who can be contacted via email, phone, or even Whatsapp. However, other charges may apply, including S$25 a year for every shareholder if there are more than five of them, and a rather vague “complex matters” charge priced from S$150 per transaction.
Cabin does offer a comprehensive suite of finance operations services, including payroll and even getting a senior accountant to oversee your finance team and workflows. This is something rather unique that other firms on this list do not offer, so that might be worth considering.
Basic summary of corporate services charges (Updated on Aug 2021!)
Keep on top of your finances
Many factors can affect a company’s profitability, but maintaining good corporate governance and accounting practices is one of the most crucial. Digital accounting and corporate secretarial firms have bestowed great convenience and value for their invaluable services, but selecting the right fit for your company remains of paramount importance.
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