They Don’t Wear Ties in Singapore

Men don’t wear ties in Singapore.

OK, that’s not entirely true. There certainly are men who DO wear ties to work, especially senior leaders, or some in the banking sector (especially if they’re in wealth management, and need to convince their clients that they make lots of money for everyone).

But walk around Raffles Place or Shenton Way, the areas where the big banks are located, and see how many men are wearing ties. Then hop on a plane and go to New York and walk around Wall Street, or to London and stroll around the City, and observe what men are wearing there. If you can’t afford the plane tickets right now, just watch the movie Margin Call and notice how many men wear ties even when they are the only ones in the office at 10pm.

It’s no big surprise that most men don’t wear suits and ties in Singapore; after all, it is HOT there, and I know from making the mistake a few years ago here that to wear a suit invites an overly high body temperature and a perspiration level equivalent to running a marathon in Death Valley in August while wearing a wetsuit. So people do the smart thing there and generally leave suits and ties for unique occasions.

This is not to say no one else should wear ties; instead, it’s simply to point out that the non-wearing of ties by the financial community has NOT brought about the end of capitalism. In other words, business goes on no matter what you wear.

We often get into habits, or follow customs, secure in the belief that if we don’t, everything will fall apart. Frankly, that’s usually not the case. There are things we are required to do, like following laws, but most social customs exist only as a way of smoothing the interaction between people (like holding the door for the person behind you, or letting people off a train before you jump on) or conveying an image (like wearing ties…I mean, c’mon, is there any NEED for those?). Changing those customs will not destroy civilization as we know it.

When changes are proposed it is natural to hesitate because “that’s not the way we do things,” but you need to ask yourself if that change really has a negative impact on your business. Between emerging technologies, market evolution, and changing talent demographics, you are likely to be faced with suggestions for change on a pretty regular basis. Some changes will be small, some could be pretty major, and not every change is a good idea, but before rejecting a change because “it’s not how things are done,” you should determine if it really matters if that particular thing is done the old way. We know now that wearing a certain style of clothing is not essential for the financial industry; what else are we clinging to that is not really important?

One Response so far.

  1. […] week I pointed out that they don’t wear ties in Singapore. It’s a custom driven largely by the climate, I’d say, since it’s hot enough […]

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