“I love the Asian culture that taps into the wisdom of elders,” says John, who adds with a wry smile, “Maybe because I’m about to be 55!”
Then, he continues, “Their respect for family, traditions and learning from people who’ve been around a long time is what I really love about Singaporeans.”
As this year’s “Longevity Award” winner, John has been helping people embrace expat life – like he has – since he put up his CST Tax Advisors shingle here in 2004. Before that, he spent more than 10 years running his own tax company Marcarian & Co. in Australia. In 2003, the Armenian-Australian expat took a one-year sabbatical with his family, including his wife and two young daughters, to travel around Europe.
“It taught me a lot about the different tax regimes, different countries, different cultures,” shares John of the trip. “Loving international tax as I do – which sounds crazy – it made me realise I needed to take my business offshore and help people who were moving from one location to another location.”
He picked Singapore because it’s an international hub, and later found out through his mum that his Armenian great-grandfather lived here from 1883 to 1910. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m really not doing something new – great-granddad was here!” says John.
Today, his CST Tax Advisors has offices in 6 countries and clients in more than 30 countries around the world.
What’s its successful formula? “We integrate our tax advice, tailor it to people’s circumstances and concentrate on the whole picture of their life, not just the compliance side,” says John. “We are more of an advisor than just ‘tax guys’.”
In 2018, John also founded the Expatland Global Network, an online platform inspired by Expatland, a book he penned in 2015, and which aims to connect expats with essential service providers in cities where they are moving. The goal is simple: “The more smoothly we make your arrival occur, the better you’ll feel, and the more family time you’re going to have,” he explains.
Not by mistake, the Expatland Global Network is actually owned by John’s non-profit Expatland Giving Back Fund, which supports charitable causes such as the Handicaps Welfare Association and Willing Hearts. “I want to show that expats do give back and can help,” he says.
Learn more about CST and Expatland here!
About The Finder Expatpreneur Awards
In 2017, The Finder debuted its first-ever Expatpreneur Awards to honour foreign-born entrepreneurs running successful expat-owned businesses in or from Singapore. In 2018, 23 expats were awarded for their tremendous dedication. This 2019, a new batch of 22 Expatpreneur Awardees have been unveiled! All of them have one thing in common: Their brands help people “live well in Singapore” – The Finder’s core mission.
By Sara Lyle Bow, The Finder Issue 298
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