I mentioned last year that ACI Singapore was embarking on a strategy review, and that this would focus on various key areas which we felt ACI could play an important role in the industry, namely :
I am pleased to report that we have made important progress on these initiatives.
In terms of Membership Engagement & Events, the EXCO accepted the recommendations of the Strategy Review team, and immediately implemented a more regular and active Members Networking Series. In all, 2018 was probably the most active year ever for ACI Singapore with 6 members events organized throughout the year. While the main focus was on education and networking, the Executive Committee sought to provide members with a broad range of topics that they may not otherwise encounter in the course of their work. This included a Seminar on “Bringing the Fun Back to Alternative Investments” where members were exposed to Alternative investing covering Artwork, Wine and Crypto investments. On a separate occasion, a panel of experts from the Real Estate Industry shared views on the Property Market in Singapore. With markets continuing to evolve and members facing greater uncertainty in employment prospects, we also organized a seminar on Career Choices which also included presentations on what government schemes could be tapped to facilitate Reskilling and Upskilling opportunities. We ended the year with a social networking event for members in November, and were privileged to have the prestigious Castiglion del Bosco winery collaborating with us for a wine tasting event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Members were treated to wonderful insights by the winemaker, Ms Cecilia Leoneschi with the Winery Owner, Massimo Ferragamo also present.
With regards to Advisory & Counselling Services, we are collaborating with the IBF to provide industry members with Career Advisory and Counselling Services. Several experienced ACI members have volunteered to serve as Counsellors & Career Advisors, working through IBF as part of an industry initiative.
With regards to Job Placement & related Skills Upgrading, we are currently working with the IBF to develop courses and tap funding from Skills Future to upgrade the skills of Members and Industry Practitioners in order to position them for new job opportunities. This will be a continuing work in progress for ACI as our industry evolves with significant impact on jobs and the types of skills required to be successful.
On the back of these initiatives, I am pleased to report that we saw a good increase in our membership from 418 in 2017 to 462, a more than 10% increase. If we include the 59 ANZ staff who were given ACI memberships for the first year because they had signed up for ELAC, then membership would stand at 521, or a 24% increase. We hope to see continued momentum in membership growth on the back of more events being organized in 2019.
Related to this is the important area of Leadership renewal. Many of our EXCO members have been serving for many years, with a significant majority now in their 50’s. In 2018, we made the conscious effort to bring in some of our promising younger members who will represent the future of ACI. In particular, special thanks to Leng Hoe Lon, our Membership SubCom Chairperson, who has brought into the Membership SubCom and Charity Golf Committee, several new members whose impact is now clearly evident. More younger members are attending our events, and new activities like a Futsal Competition has been planned for the coming year. This will hopefully be the beginning of a new phase for ACI as we try to appeal to the younger segments of our industry, and most importantly, to encourage their active participation.
Perhaps the most significant event in 2018 was the 25th Anniversary ACI Singapore Charity Golf and Gala Dinner 2018. To celebrate this milestone for ACI, we decided to open up the event to non-Golfing members and friends in the industry, and so the Gala Dinner was held on a separate day, 26 July 2018, 3 days after the Golf Event. Holding the Gala Dinner at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Ballroom then enabled 550 people to attend the Gala Dinner, and significantly, non-Golfers were then given the opportunity to participate and celebrate this 25th anniversary charity milestone among ACI members. This was a record turnout for the ACI Singapore Charity Golf and Gala Dinner, significantly exceeding previous events which usually had about 300-350 people attending. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was once again our Guest of Honour, and while the main dinner theme was clearly to support the Charities, it also turned into a wonderful evening of catching up and fellowship among members of our industry. Wild Rice Productions was on hand to provide entertainment for the evening. Over $650,000 in net charity proceeds were raised for 8 Charities, mainly covering social services to the poor and needy, the elderly and healthcare services, but also support for education and the Arts. It was a night to remember, and a fitting celebration to commemorate 25 years of Charity fund-raising by ACI Singapore.
The ACI Charity Golf aside, it was yet another difficult year financially for ACI Singapore. It was difficult to secure sponsors for most of our Members Networking Events, and so these were funded from our reserves. The EXCO decided that these Networking events were crucial for the industry as it provided members an important and useful opportunity to meet and network with one another. Over the years, restrictions have been placed on various types of interactions between industry members causing us to lose some of the vibrancy and dynamism experienced in earlier years. It was therefore seen as an important investment that ACI had to make for the benefit of the industry, and specifically our members.
For the Financial year ending 31 October 2018, ACI Singapore has incurred a deficit which was slightly lower than the previous year. While costs were carefully managed and lower than that of 2017, there was a drop in interest income because of lower fixed deposit balances, together with lower sponsorship and endorsement fees. The Accumulated Funds at the end of the financial year is just over 3 times of our Annual Expenditure. While efforts will continue to focus on managing costs and finding new avenues of revenue, EXCO is conscious that we need to maintain the momentum of initiatives and activities if we are to support the professional development of our members and serve the wider Financial Markets industry.
It leaves me now to thank all my fellow EXCO members and staff for their hard work, commitment and dedication in 2018. ACI Singapore remains at an important threshold of change in the industry and markets, and we look forward to your support in the year ahead.
I wish all of you a successful 2019.