About this series
Building Asia is a collection of business stories on CNA that examines the financial forces driving Asia's position as an economic powerhouse.
Royal Insignia – Nurturing the culture of gifting is the 13th episode in the Building Asia with UOB series and was first aired on 6 September 2021. It looks at how atelier Royal Insignia expanded over the decades, diversifying into new business streams as the second generation of leaders took over the family business.
Rachel Hoe (Director, Royal Insignia):
Royal Insignia is an atelier that crafts bespoke, luxury gifts. Our team of craftsmen and engineers create exquisite gift items for royal families and heads of state. Over the past decades, we’ve carved out our name in quality.
Royal Insignia was founded by my father, Ivan Hoe. My father started his journey with a medal workshop in Singapore and his work eventually took him to Europe and the UK. There, he met mentors who taught him about the art of orders, decorations, and medals.
Every piece that Royal Insignia creates goes through a painstaking process. From design to prototyping, to handcrafting the final piece by our in-house team of craftsmen and engineers.
Eric Tham (Managing Director and Head, Group Commercial Banking, UOB):
UOB’s relationship with Royal Insignia started in the 1990s. Their founder wanted to build a brand that specialises in a niche industry. As their banker, we needed to understand the uniqueness of their business model.
Since the business is dealing in raw materials such as precious metals and gems, this meant that capital outlay would always be high.
We started banking with UOB immediately upon establishing Royal Insignia. The original team provided the guidance and confidence for my father to grow his business.
This sharpened the financial acumen of not just my father but also my siblings and myself, who now run the business.
The partnership with Royal Insignia is now in its second generation. Rachel and her team bring new ambitions and ideas.
As their financial partner, we don’t just support them with financing, but also in their professional growth.
UOB has a platform called The Business Circle. It allowed us to network with like-minded peers to exchange ideas and create opportunities.
As Royal Insignia’s next generation, we have to diversify. UOB provided financing for us to bring in the Southeast Asian franchise for Läderach chocolates. We are working closely with UOB to expand the brand beyond Singapore.
We also connected them with business contacts in the region. This is possible because of UOB’s broad regional network and deep sector expertise.
We must build on tradition. We are offering our expertise to independent luxury watch and clock makers from around the world.
We leverage on the experience of our engineers to provide these brands with prototyping opportunities and our enamellists are on hand to create tiny works of art on each dial.
Royal Insignia is a specialist business with a rich legacy in gifting. We will continue opening doors to new opportunities for them.
With these capabilities, a diversified revenue stream, and our continued financial relationship with UOB, we can approach the next lap with confidence.