Success for family enterprises

Family businesses seeking to grow need to be able to balance professional management with family ownership

While the next generation of family business leaders in Singapore are generally well-equipped to run their families’ companies, outside professionals are increasingly being brought in to broaden the talent pool, and help ensure the long-term success of the enterprise.

“This journey often involves a transformation from a personality-driven organisation, where decisions are often made by a single person or a closely-knitted family group, to an organisation which is more strongly driven by a system of corporate governance rules, practices and processes,” said SBF Chairman S.S. Teo at the 2018 Family Business Forum organised by SBF in partnership with DBS Bank and Deloitte Private. “For the family business leader, it also means relinquishing some control to professional managers, who are outsiders,” he added.

Beyond professionalising management, the third instalment of the Family Business Forum held on September 27 also explored topics such as corporate governance, family business succession and the importance of networks.

Participants heard from notable speakers and panellists such as Mr Peter Pagonis, Senior Partner of Deloitte Private, Mr Peter Triggs, Managing Director and Regional Head of Wealth Planning at DBS Bank, Prof Annie Koh, Academic Director of the Business Families Institute at SMU, and key family business leaders.

Family enterprises continue to form a key part of Singapore’s business community. A study done by NUS Business School and DBS Bank titled Success and Succession, found that over 60% of SGX-listed companies are family-owned entities. Yet, they are just one segment of businesses that contribute to the vibrancy of the local economy, noted Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education.

“A vibrant economy needs a good mix of enterprises, ranging from start-ups and family businesses which are SMEs, to large local enterprises and MNCs. It is not choosing between MNCs and local companies; or between large enterprises and SMEs. It is about growing a strong layer of highly competitive Singapore-based enterprises of different sizes to drive the next phase of our economic developments,” said Mr Chee, who was the Forum’s guest-of-honour.

SMS Chee Hong Tat and SBF Chairman SS Teo flanked by members of the SBF Young Business Leaders Network

A Network for Young Business Leaders

SBF also launched a new platform at the Forum for next-generation business leaders to interact and share their experiences. The Young Business Leaders Network (YBLN) aims to prepare business leaders below the age of 45 to thrive amid a fast-changing landscape. YBLN members comprise the successors of family businesses, entrepreneurs, and young corporate leaders from a wide cross-section of Singapore’s business community.

The group’s activities will initially focus on self-discovery, knowledge and capability building, mentorship and the expansion of local and international business networks.

“Our ambition is for YBLN to be a confluence of people, knowledge, networks and technology. We believe that where there is passion, there will be people, where there is curiosity there will be knowledge, and where there is partnership, there can be growth,” said the incoming Chair of YBLN, Ms Chong Ee Rong, an SBF Council Member and Group Managing Director of Ogilvy Singapore.

Young High-Fliers

Some 70 members of the business community have accepted the invitation to join SBF’s Young Business Leaders Network. These include:
1. Chong Ee Rong, Group Managing Director, Ogilvy Singapore
2. Darren Teo, Managing Partner, Apricot Capital Pte Ltd
3. Kwek Eik Sheng, Group Chief Strategy Officer, City Developments Ltd
4. Kelvin Lee, Co-Founder & CEO, Fundnel
5. Aqeel Nomanbhoy, Director, Nomanbhoy & Sons Pte Ltd
6. Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin, CEO of Quantedge Capital Pte Ltd
7. Ayesha Aziz Khan, Managing Director & CEO, Summit Power International Ltd