2017 will be remembered as one of the most eventful years in modern history. From Donald Trump to North Korea, and yet another political miscalculation at the polls by a British Prime Minister, while climate change has wreaked havoc in many parts of the world even as Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris Accord. At home, Singapore elected our first Malay and Lady President. Meanwhile equity markets have hit record highs, even though this still pales in comparison to the meteoric rise in the value of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. Sentiment has remained bullish in the new year even as inflation is set to rise and Fed rate hikes are projected.
Meanwhile our FX & Financial Markets are adapting to a new Global Code of Conduct with BIS and Financial Market regulators actively promoting buy in and adherence not only by the Sell-side, but more significantly the Buy-side as well. This is an important development, and ACI Global on its part has also fully adopted the Global Code which will replace the ACI Model Code, except for sections in the Model Code not dealt with in the Global Code. The SFEMC is also updating the Blue Book to incorporate the Global Code.
Globally, ELAC continues to attract strong support from institutions and Central Banks, particularly in Europe, looking for a platform to test and demonstrate understanding of the Global Code. ACI Global has also taken a decision to fully incorporate the Global Code into the suite of ACI courses. In Singapore, the SFEMC has decided to continue using the FMRP as the entry course for all entrants to the Financial Markets, and the Singapore Blue Book Code of Conduct is being updated, and will be incorporated into the curriculum.
Just as the industry is evolving, so too will ACI Singapore. Strategy Workgroups have been established and are now carefully exploring several key areas where we believe there are industry needs and gaps that ACI Singapore may fill and meaningfully contribute. The 3 main Workgroups are :
We welcome other fellow ACI members to volunteer and join these workgroups as we seek to meaningfully contribute to our industry.
Last year I reported that ACI Singapore will focus on building an education platform that will be linked to the IBF Standards Training Scheme (“STS”). As a result of a change in approach by the IBF, we have taken the decision to review our STS involvement and only to focus on courses where we feel there is sufficient demand. We will also continue with our collaboration with the Singapore Management University to develop foundational courses like the Financial Markets Certificate and the Financial Markets Operations Certificate for the Front Office and Support functions respectively.
Apart from this important education initiative, ACI Singapore has taken a decision to focus on organizing further education and networking seminars. These have attracted good feedback and response from members, and we are now looking to increase the frequency in the coming year. A decision was also taken to broaden the focus away from purely markets-related topics to new areas such as Fintech and Cryptocurrencies. Both these seminars last year were well supported received and we will continue to seek new topics for the coming year. Networking drinks after the seminars also remain a very useful platform for engagement between our members. For our year-end event, we decided to organize a whisky evening where members were treated to a presentation on various expressions of Malt Whisky. These Education and Networking events were also responsible for attracting new members to ACI and with 107 new members joining us on the back of these events. Membership closed at 418 members, a 19% increase over the previous year.
Our ACI Singapore Charity Golf 2017 also took on a new look, with a Celebrity Chef curating a special menu, and Wild Rice Productions entertaining guests in the evening. Over $500,000 in net donations were raised for 7 charities with Guest of Honor Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam graciously honoring us with his presence. 2018 is a special year because it marks the 25th Anniversary of the ACI Singapore Charity Golf, and we look forward to your strong support as we commemorate 25 years as the Financial Market’s most important charity event. Significantly two-thirds of our donations come from individual members, so I appeal to all ACI members to support this special event generously
Financially, 2017 was another difficult year for ACI Singapore. We will continue to actively manage our overheads and expenses, but as one of the most active ACI national associations in Asia in terms of the number of events and members activities, we have to rely on other sources of income as we have deliberately kept membership fees low in order to encourage more industry participants to join ACI and participate in our activities. Currently all our regular networking events are free of charge to members. We recognize that this situation is not sustainable in the long run, and it is therefore a priority of EXCO to review our strategy through the working groups. We hope to be able to report further on this over the next few months.
It is the belief of the ACI Singapore EXCO and myself that ACI Singapore plays an important role as one of the 3 key parties, comprising the Regulators, the Institutions & the industry participants, whose engagement and cooperation are necessary to promote a vibrant industry. The year ahead will see us reviewing our strategy and mission, and we value your feedback, and participation in this process
It leaves me to thank all my fellow members of the ACI Singapore Executive Committee, our Advisors and the Staff for their support, commitment and dedication.
I wish all of you a successful 2018.