Date: June 19, 2019
Mr Daniel Teo
Mr David Gerald
Founder, President & CEO, SIAS
Ladies and Gentleman
Welcome to the Launch of Securities Investors Association (Singapore) [SIAS] 20th Anniversary Celebrations.
SIAS was founded in 1999 by David Gerald and a group of civic minded citizens, to help thousands of stranded Singapore investors in Malaysian shares that used to trade on Clob International.
After helping to resolve that crisis in 2000, SIAS expanded its role into investor education and took on the challenge of promoting good corporate governance in the local market.
Although SIAS assumed new functions to stay relevant, SIAS did not lose sight of its original objective of upholding the rights of small shareholders and giving them a voice when problems or disputes arose.
In order to effectively represent those shareholders, SIAS embarked on an approach grounded on the slogan “in the boardroom, not the courtroom’’.
This approach is founded on the belief that dispute resolution is best pursued through collaboration and discussion rather than through confrontation and aggression.
SIAS has successfully engaged the boards & senior managements of listed companies and the regulators in the spirit of tripartism to resolve shareholder issues, thus helping to maintain investor relations peace in our capital markets.
SIAS’s conciliatory approach has proven very effective.
It has benefited shareholders of several companies, including Isetan, Golden Agri Resources, AFP, Yellow Pages and China Aviation Oil.
In addition, SIAS’s lobbying for greater fairness for minorities helped shareholders of Tiger Airways to secure a better exit price when the airline was taken private.
More recently, the association has extended its assistance to bondholders of troubled oil and gas companies like Marco Polo Marine, Ezra, Nam Cheong, Ezion and more recently, Hyflux.
All of this was accomplished despite the considerable constraints under which SIAS operates, the two biggest being funding limitations and scepticism from various quarters over whether SIAS, by its “in the boardroom not the courtroom’’ approach, can be a truly effective small investor champion.
To continue to play its role, SIAS has to recognise the challenges that lie ahead and respond accordingly.
First, finance has been a constant struggle over the past 20 years.
It is crucial that a sustainable funding model is found.
Doing so would address sceptics who claim that the present arrangement does not allow SIAS to be properly objective.
Second, the installation of a suitable succession plan.
Mr David Gerald has done an outstanding job in growing SIAS from a small association formed in June 1999 to deal with a specific, localised problem into a reputable organisation that has won international acclaim for its work.
However, David knows that he cannot continue forever.
The torch must eventually be passed on.
I understand that David is working to put in place a succession plan to ensure SIAS future.
The investment landscape is being transformed by rapid technological advances and change.
For example, the advent of sophisticated artificial intelligent algorithms and robo-advisers have implications for investment advice and the way financial planning will be conducted in future.
New capital structures are creating governance issues for regulators and will pose challenges for companies and organisations like SIAS.
As the market evolves so must SIAS.
I am confident that with proper funding, succession planning and support, SIAS will continue to play a pivotal role in enhancing standards of corporate governance in Singapore for many years to come.