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An Interview with Baskaran Narayanan, Country General Manager, Brink’s Singapore


Published on June 1, 2017

For the best part of 28 years, Brink’s has operated secure logistics services in Singapore for precious metals customers and investors. On the back of growing demand from Asia Pacific customers, Brink’s has been growing its precious metals logistics and storage services in Singapore. Crucible talks to Country General Manager for Brink’s Singapore & Australia, Baskaran Narayanan, about the company’s operations and how it has supported the growth of the precious metals sector in Singapore.

Baskaran Narayanan, Brink’s Country General Manager – Singapore & Australia

How has the company’s offerings grown or evolved since it was established in Singapore in 1989?

The company has expanded and diversified since inception in 1989. In the past five years, Brink’s precious metals activities have increased threefold, which shows the level of improvement and expansion the group strives for. We grew even faster in 2016, doubling our figures.

Brink’s now boasts three branches in the country: Enterprise One, Tai Seng and Singapore Freeport. We currently have a 264-strong workforce, an ever-expanding fleet of secure vehicles, which now numbers 32, and soon-to-be seven high-security vaults. Our extensive presence has been rewarded aptly over the years by securing contracts with the likes of Singapore Exchange, International Commodities Exchange, as well as various bullion banks and precious metals dealers.

Brink’s has been adding secure storage facilities in Singapore in the past three years on the back of increasing regional demand and because the movement of precious metals from West to the East has continued to grow in recent years. We see China, India, Singapore and Thailand at the forefront of metal consumption in Asia Pacific, so Brink’s opened and expanded its precious metals vaults at these locations to increase its gold and silver handling capacity. Our high-security vaults are largely used by international financial institutions to store their precious metals. There is also growing demand from institutional investors and high net-worth individuals for wholesale gold products.

What new technologies and operating systems has the company been using to drive efficiency and enhance safety and security?

We have more than 155 years of global risk management experience, and with new technologies and operating systems, Brink’s can offer market-leading solutions to speed up delivery and promote ingenious solutions to today’s increasingly complex security challenges. Many Singapore companies dealing with expensive/valuable products and goods have benefitted from our ability to provide the most innovative and efficient end-to-end logistics solutions spanning such a vast range of markets. Our technological capabilities allow us to provide additional asset management services, tracking and tracing of cargo, and live and online inventory management to increase operational efficiencies across our precious metals customer network.

At Brink’s, trust is a given, but we never take it for granted, and it is our goal to earn our reputation for trust each and every day.

We use proven methodologies to minimise risk from pickup to delivery and every stage in between. Our footprint in the largest in the secure transportation business, with networked operations in more than 125 countries, and 70,000 dedicated security professionals with real-world experience to support the unique business needs of our customers. We have rigorous controls that protect customer precious goods anywhere we do business, and industry-leading insurance protection that allows us to proudly proclaim, “No one has ever lost a penny using Brink’s”

However, there is still a need for unwavering commitment to service excellence. At Brink’s, trust is a given, but we never take it for granted, and it is our goal to earn our reputation for trust each and every day.

In terms of precious metals storage and shipping, what are customers looking for?

Precious metals customers want fast turnaround in terms of shipping, storage releases and transactional coordination. Ensuring security while being flexible are the basic requirements in this industry. However, large bullion banks and precious metals dealers also want help in verifying the bar numbers and brand confirmation as part of the service. Perhaps most importantly, we understand that relationships are built among customers and local and global companies, for this reason we give careful consideration to service requirements, and have a dedicated account team that focuses on seamless delivery of our services. As an example, Brink’s Singapore has been an IATA agent for the past 25 years, and manages its valuable cargo, airline bookings, security verifications, customs clearance and other services involving a valuable cargo supply chain.

What is the most important challenge for secure transportation and logistics services providers to overcome in the future?

Managing customised solutions that are tailored to specific customers, maintaining service quality, and time-critical shipments while managing risk management effectively are areas the secured logistics industry is dealing with, and the service provider that is able to deliver on these areas will come out ahead.

In your opinion, what does the growth of the precious metals sector in the region mean for Singapore, and for Brink’s in particular?

We have grown rapidly in in Singapore, in line with the country’s aim of becoming a regional hub for precious metals. We have therefore, across the markets, managed to form a stable service on the side of gold, silver and foreign currencies. Adapting to these kinds of trends strengthens our overall goal, which is growth and profitability.

Asia Pacific will continue to see significant growth in terms of precious metals storage and distribution, and our secured transportation and logistics solutions complement Singapore’s goal of becoming a precious metal hub for the wider region.

We are the market leader across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, leveraging our international knowledge and experience, and delivering the highest levels of customer service for valuable storage, cash processing and distribution both domestically and across the region. The wider group’s ability to provide market-leading innovative solutions to diverse multi-market environments, while constantly looking to enhance both reporting and security within their respective supply chains, has been a leading factor in our successful expansion to more than 125 countries. This has seen Brink’s secure a market-leading position within the region for currency movements. Complementing the rapidly rising financial operation, other sectors falling under Brink’s’ remit – both globally and, by proxy, in Southeast Asia – include mining, diamond dealers, jewellery, manufacturing, printing, government operations, airlines, technology and precious metals.

Asia Pacific will continue to see significant growth in terms of precious metals storage and distribution, and our secured transportation and logistics solutions complement Singapore’s goal of becoming a precious metal hub for the wider region. We are fully committed to keeping this region sustainable in terms of growth in this sector. As a niche player, we have many, many areas in which we can support this growth, and the foundations are in place to build a long-term, sustainable future.

hat advice do you have for precious metals investors who might be looking into storage or logistics services?

Our advice to precious metals investors would be for them to look at the value proposition the service provider is able to give them, in terms of undertaking a safe and secure precious metals storage and distribution capability. Brink’s invests heavily in advanced proprietary backend systems for global inventory management and to keep it consistent. Our customers enjoy a customised and automated reporting, worldwide precious metals inventory tracking, and are able to view multiple storage locations online and in real-time. We undertake liability for stock held in our vaults, and provide customers with significant time and cost savings. We go beyond standard solutions to consult, design and deliver faster, safer and more streamlined solutions to suit the specific business needs of our customers. Brink’s utilises leading technology to provide enhanced security solutions to support the evolving logistical requirements of our customers. Our goal is to set the global standards for excellence in secure logistics and value chain risk management through our commitment to innovation, quality and investment in people.