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Success on the cards
Published on Saturday, 16 Aug 2014
Photo: Gary Mak

Takon's Jerry Lee and Joe Wong are adding a new dimension to souvenirs, writes Wong Yat-hei.

With more and more people using social and other digital media to connect with each other, few send postcards anymore. Two young product designers, however, have given new life to this fading form of communication. Jerry Lee Tak-chun and Joe Wong Man-hon, co-founders of Takon Product Development - a business that specialises in making souvenirs - have dazzled the market with the creation of greeting cards with 3D artwork that represent Hong Kong culture.

Lee and Wong both graduated from Polytechnic University with degrees in product analysis and engineering design. They decided to start their own business to show the world the essence of Hong Kong culture.

"Our city is more than a place for visitors to shop," says Lee, the marketing director of the company. "It has many stories that are worth sharing. There are a lot of Hong Kong icons besides Bruce Lee and the Chinese junk. We want visitors to take something about Hong Kong culture back home with them, so we came up with the idea of three-dimensional, pop-up greeting cards that feature icons of Hong Kong like the lucky bun, rickshaw, bamboo theatre and many more."

With limited capital and no business experience, they turned to incubation projects for help. "We joined a business start-up support project, Youth Business Hong Kong, organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG). Beside loans, their panel of business high-flyers gave us many useful tips on how to run a business, like how to handle taxes and budgeting," Lee says.

Wong, the company's creative director, is the mastermind behind the designs. "We are serious about being a business that is 100 per cent 'made in Hong Kong'," he says. "All our products are made in sheltered workshops in Sham Shui Po. It takes extra effort to train the workers and I have to be careful with the materials and the tools they work with, so they won't hurt themselves. But all this is worth it, because we are true to our core value as a Hong Kong business and it is a way for us to give back to the community."

Limited capital meant Lee and Wong were not able to start production straight away, despite the designs proving popular. "We started out designing brochures and other products for clients," Lee says. "Developing a product involves heavy investment and takes a long time, so we began with a design service in the hope of building up our reputation."

Their big break came when showcasing 3D greeting cards at an entrepreneurship day organised by the HKFYG. "Our products earned high praise from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and they invited us to display them in their gallery," Lee says. "This was a huge boost to our reputation. Soon we were displaying our products on the shelves of major bookstores and in hotel gift shops. Now we have more than 70 outlets for our products and the list keeps growing."

Their decision to start a souvenirs business was a well-supported one. "When we were employees, we found out that a good way to start to export products to the rest of the world was through gifts and souvenirs," Lee says. "Because Hong Kong runs some of the biggest exhibitions for gifts and souvenirs, we can access buyers from around the world without having to travel."

Their idea has caught the attention of buyers from around the world. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York commissioned us to make bookmarks for them after seeing our bookmarks inspired by Chinese partitions," Lee says. "The Eiffel Tower paper model is one of our bestsellers - buyers from the Middle East love them."

Taking their products onto the global stage is the plan for Takon, but it is no easy task. "We are grateful to the mentors of our incubation projects, who are veteran businessmen," Lee says. "They taught us a lot about the laws and tax systems relating to exporting products to different countries. They also gave us their insights on the market, which is invaluable to green hands like us."

While Lee says the support they received was key to getting started, he stresses that persistence and the ability to overcome hardship is essential to successfully running a business. "People who are planning to start their own business need to understand that the support from incubation projects is not going to take you to the promised land - they key is being proactive," he says. "Pick the brains of [your] mentors for business advice. There is no boss or superior to help you - you must not give up when you face an obstacle."

With 3D paper art turning into a hot trend, there have been many copycats of Takon's products. Lee and Wong see this as recognition of their success, rather than a threat.

"Consumers only appreciate original ideas," Lee says. "The creator of the new idea is the innovator and copycats are always going to be copycats. We are always a step ahead of the copycats, so we are not worried about competition from them."

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Palettable prospects
Published on Saturday, 09 Aug 2014
Photo: Laurence Leung

AFG plans to add more art brokers as HK gears up to be a collectors’ Mecca, writes Bhavna Sakhrani.

Hong Kong’s reputation as a cash-rich emerging market for art investment was reinforced earlier this year as armies of art lovers flocked to the three-day Art Basel event held in the city in March. 

Collectors have made handsome returns from buying works by the most sought-after contemporary artists and treating art as another branch of finance.

While vast price fluctuations indicate investing in art is not for the faint-hearted, the Asian market is certainly becoming an investor favourite. Art shows have seen sales growing steadily thanks to increased access to emerging talent from China, low taxes and more high-net-worth individuals.  

Art enthusiasts are well catered for when they visit Hong Kong. Big international players such as Gagosian Gallery, Sundaram Tagore and White Cube have set up shop here, and the government has committed to cultivating a cultural district in West Kowloon, including a massive undertaking called the huge M+ Museum, which will span 40 hectares and focus on integrated art, design and architecture.

 Investors talk about emerging markets and alternative assets, but consultants in the art investment sector are required to look more carefully at the both the profitability of the market and the emergence of new talent.  

Art Futures Group (AFG), led by Jon Reade, is a Hong Kong-based brokerage art firm that turns the latest data on mid-career artists into investment recommendations and creates tailor-made portfolios of contemporary Chinese art for wealthy investors. AFG has seen growth in interest in Chinese talent, especially mid-career artists who have a good track record in terms of output and auctions. 

“When the rest of the world was in recovery in 2010, China took over as the largest market in the world for art investment,” Reade says. “Hong Kong typically wasn’t an arty town, but things are changing. Once museums like M+ are built [at the West Kowloon Cultural District], they’re going to be the most popular places to go on the weekends.”  

The new cultural district is a key part of AFG’s success in Hong Kong. Reade says AFG chose to open in the city because of the number of investment options in Asia – especially mainland China – through Hong Kong. 

Reade says investors are looking to make discoveries outside of the typical blue-chips, focusing on edgier works by mid-career artists.  

“In Hong Kong, the attention had previously been on foreign artwork. Despite local galleries opting to sell prominent art from around the world, there is certainly a hyped interest in Chinese art traditions as the economy continues to grow,” he says.  

Auction houses report that more than 40 per cent of art collectors now come from China, compared to 4 per cent five years ago. They also report a more than 25 per cent increase in sales recently, citing landmark transactions in Chinese art. 

  Investors were astonished in April when a Chinese collector bought an ancient ceramic cup from Sotheby’s for a record breaking HK$281 million, paying for his purchase with his American Express credit card.

With Hong Kong poised to become a vibrant international art centre, promising bigger and better infrastructure, space for galleries, museums and arts organisations, Reade believes there are certainly new opportunities in the industry. 

“Working as an art investment consultant does have a certain amount of glamour to it, but it’s important to figure out exactly what you want to get into because there isn’t a particular course for this line of work. If you are interested in the creative side, such as actually becoming an artist, or if you want to become a researcher, historian, curator or consultant, you have to network extensively and talk to people in the industry.”  

As the Hong Kong art market continues to expand, AFG is looking to hire art brokers with a passion for the industry, who resist the notion of art as a purely financial product. “Investors are more open to putting their money in illiquid assets like art, but that requires a passion and an appetite for the business,” Reade says. “When hiring, we look for people who not only have a sound understanding of financial markets, but also an affinity for art.”  

He adds, though, that the market can be tough and unpredictable. “Behind every successful business is a lot of hard work,” he says. “In Hong Kong, it’s important to cultivate relationships locally, and our focus on the mainland market means we are always searching for people with the aptitude for the work and the linguistic skills to communicate with buyers. Cantonese-speaking brokers who are interested in art are our major talent pool. Saying that, we look for inspired individuals with a passion for contemporary art and practical sales and business experience.” 

Who’s in the frame 


Jon Reade on what it takes to succeed in the industry. 

Single-mindedness: “First and foremost, I look for people who are focused enough to know what they are interested in doing, if it is in the primary market or secondary market, and if they have the drive to attain what they want. Understandably, it’s a difficult industry to get into in Hong Kong, and takes a certain amount of grit.”  

Art and investment knowledge: “We provide recommendations on a vast selection of contemporary paintings, so having an appreciation for modern art and an understanding of its cultural value as well as its potential investment yield is important.” 

Sales and finance skills: “Candidates don’t have to have years of experience as art consultants, but we are looking for natural-born salespeople [with] a sound interest in finance and a background in investment, which shows a successful track record that is adaptable. At the end of the day, our objective is to make our clients as much money as possible.” 


 

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Keeping it clean
Published on Saturday, 02 Aug 2014
Frances Leung
Peter Koo
Christine Wright
Nicolas Tollie

Auditing has long been a critical function for businesses. But now, more than ever, identifying and managing risk, and helping organisations achieve their objectives, are adding new dimensions to the profession.

Frances Leung, general manager of Bank of China Hong Kong's (BOCHK) group audit department, says her unit has undergone significant changes as compliance and regulatory requirements become more stringent. In addition to regularly reviewing internal audit results, her department has to respond to frequent requests from Hong Kong and mainland regulators for reviews of different areas of business operations.

"This supervisory trend signifies that the internal audit function is playing a more critical role across the banking industry," Leung says.

In addition to dealing with issues such as money laundering, Basel III and liquidity management, the bank's auditors have to adjust to different regulatory regimes as the bank expands across different geographical locations, Leung says. "We need to ensure our auditors have global perspectives and a forward-looking mindset so that we can advise and help the board and our senior management to act proactively against emerging risks."

Leung says internal audit offers excellent career-advancement opportunities. Generally, professionals with five or six years' experience will have acquired a broad range of knowledge that will allow them to move between different businesses and functions.

For example, senior-level audit professionals who can demonstrate outstanding leadership skills and all-round business acumen may be promoted to key roles such as chief financial officer, chief risk officer or chief operating officer. "There are also examples of our auditing staff becoming branch managers or corporate banking managers," Leung says.

BOCHK looks for candidates with finance- and business-related academic backgrounds when recruiting internal auditors. In addition, as technology-related expertise becomes an increasingly important part of the internal auditing roles, disciplines related to computer science are also relevant. "It is crucial to build up a team with a balanced mix of expertise and skills so that job responsibilities can be discharged appropriately," Leung says.

Internal auditors at BOCHK periodically undergo cross-departmental job placements, allowing them to build up multidisciplinary knowledge within the banking sector. "We also place emphasis on helping our internal auditors develop critical thinking and interpersonal skills," Leung says.

Peter Koo, enterprise risk services partner at Deloitte China, is another experienced industry practitioner who believes that the auditing profession offers rewarding roles for those with the right experience and qualifications. "We usually recruit and help employees to gain their professional accounting qualifications before providing additional specialist training, such as IT auditing training," he says.

Koo explains that with cybersecurity a growing concern among corporate leadership, clients are looking for help to improve their security infrastructure and analytical processes. To help combat hacking and other technology related threats, Deloitte staff train for additional specialist qualifications such as certified information systems auditor, certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner. "Our team of professionals is equipped to offer both auditing and advisory services," he says.

While in-demand auditors may be tempted with job offers once they have gained their CPA qualification, Koo cautions young professionals to consider their futures before changing jobs. "If they stay with their employers once they gain their professional qualifications, young professionals can continue receiving vital training that will enable them to become industry specialists. This opens the way to even bigger career opportunities."

Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia, says that with constantly evolving regulations and market conditions, internal and external auditors are highly valued, in demand and in short supply. "Over the past five years, the internal audit function has become increasingly valuable to organisations," she says. She adds that companies are seeking employees with leadership potential and the ability to work well in a variety of different environments and with a diverse range of colleagues and executives.

Wright foresees that with Hong Kong stock exchange (HKEx) proposals on internal audit consultations expected to increase demand for auditors, more pressure will be placed on companies that need to recruit and retain auditing professionals. The HKEx proposals include seeking enhanced accountability of the board, board committees and management by clearly defining their roles and responsibilities in relation to risk management and internal controls. "In an already candidate-short market, this will pose a real challenge for companies looking to recruit quality audit candidates," Wright says.

Furthermore, experienced auditors will be able to command higher salaries and employers will need to attract them with robust career opportunities and other employee-retention strategies, Wright says. This includes options to transfer into areas such as risk, front office and other corporate functions.

Victor Paraschiv, a senior manager with management consultancy Sia Partners, says fundamental regulatory and compliance changes, particularly in the banking and finance sectors, is creating career opportunities for those with auditing experience that are looking to join the consultancy industry.

"Traditionally, if you look at the sweet spot, it is people with three to five years of on-the-job experience who are ideally placed to join the consultancy industry," says Paraschiv, whose firm is looking to recruit audit and risk compliance professionals.

He says recruits with a few years of experience can benefit from comprehensive internal training and the exposure that consultancy work provides. "As consultants, we help our clients to examine and evaluate controls to determine if they are working as intended," Paraschiv says.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Tollie, a senior manager at Sia Partners, says the role of auditors will continue to expand due to changes in regulatory frameworks. "Auditors and people with risk and compliance backgrounds are needed to help clients with their requirements across the entire business and operations process," Tollie says.

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Peek into Sales office of Facebook Hong Kong #FBHKhoicheung
Published on Friday, 25 Jul 2014
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Liquid asset
Published on Saturday, 19 Jul 2014
Pierre Coppéré
Photo: Gary Mak

Pierre Coppéré, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Asia, keeps business moving fluidly.

Pierre Coppéré likes to define his lifelong career in the beverage industry in terms of liquids. A quick glance at his background and career history explains why that makes sense. Growing up in Lyon, in France’s Burgundy wine region, he spent his childhood surrounded by wine. Later, as a business student specialising in marketing at the ESCP Europe business school in Paris, he did an internship with French food and beverage company Danone, and was assigned to work at one of its water affiliates, Evian. After graduating, he decided he wanted to pursued an international career and in 1977 moved to the US after joining Sopexa, a French partly state-owned entity whose mission is to promote French food and wines abroad.

He spent three months in Texas, and also worked in Austin, Chicago and New York during his one-year stay in the country. When he returned to France after a year to do his obligatory military service, a different world awaited him with the Chasseurs Alpins – or “alpine hunters” – an elite infantry brigade that trains in the mountains. Once out of the army, he compiled a short list of the companies he wanted to work for and sent them his résumé. His stint in the Alps had forged a lifelong love of the mountains and for a time he seriously considered a career in the skiing industry.

“I sent my résumé to a very, very limited number of companies, all having international business either in wine and spirits or skiing,” he recalls. Wine and spirits won out in the end, when he was offered a job with Pernod Ricard, the company where he spend the rest of his career. “It’s [been] a working life spent in liquid,” he says. “From water to wine, and then to wine and spirits. I celebrated 35 years with Pernod Ricard on 15 July this year.”

When he joined the company in 1979, Pernod Ricard was focused on extending its global reach. Coppéré moved from marketing to become area export manager in charge of exports for several countries. The company was expanding, in size and breadth, and opportunities for a versatile and determined graduate were abundant. “We managed to acquire businesses in different countries,” he explains. “That’s how our business changed from export to international, and that sort of changed the spectrum.”

Coppéré worked in different departments and countries, becoming managing director of Pernod Ricard Southeast Asia in 1996, and moving back to Europe a year later to become managing director for Austria and South Central Europe, and later the Netherlands. He became chairman and CEO of Pernod SA in 2002, and moved back to Asia in 2009 to take up his current role.

Along the way, he has benefited from mentoring within the company. “I was lucky enough to come to work with Pierre Pringuet, the [now] CEO of Pernod Ricard, and it’s fair to say we got along very well,” he says. “We had a good understanding of the business. I worked for him, reporting directly to him for many years. To a certain extent, that accelerated my career within Pernod Ricard.”

From the start, Coppéré was fully committed to Pernod Ricard and did not feel the need to explore possible careers in other firms or industries. It was not a case of making a conscious decision to stay with one company and work his way to the top – if anything, it was the other way round, he explains.

“I never thought I wouldn’t stay with Pernod Ricard,” he says. “I did find in Pernod Ricard everything that kept me excited for all those years. That’s the reason why I’m still here. I never got bored, never.”

In his current position, Coppéré’s first responsibility is for the company’s bottom and top lines in Asia – a demanding task, given that the region’s contribution to the company has grown tenfold in the past 10 years. He explains that his role has expanded from a narrower management style based on a certain expertise, to a more holistic position that focuses on people management. In this capacity, he says his primary aim is to inspire.

“[The bottom line] is a key driver of Pernod Ricard’s growth, but this is achieved via and with the team, and therefore managing the team, managing the people is absolutely key,” he says. “I love it. It’s very rewarding.”

One of the ways that staff are engaged is by taking part in the company’s efforts to combat underage drinking and other forms of irresponsible alcohol consumption, which forms the centrepiece of Pernod Ricard’s CSR efforts. “What we’ve agreed as an industry is to fight it,” Coppéré says.

The annual Pernod Ricard Responsib’All Day, for example, sees the company’s 19,000 employees around the world focus for one day on encouraging responsible drinking. This includes highlighting Pernod Ricard’s responsible-drinking initiatives, such as the launch of an app earlier this year that helps users calculate how many units of alcohol they have consumed. 

With responsibility for a region that extends from the Gulf to Japan, Coppéré spends much of his time travelling to meet his core teams in different countries. In a typical year, he spends more than 200 days out of Hong Kong. “Fortunately, I like travelling, otherwise that would be an issue with my current job,” he says. During his free time, he takes advantage of being based in Hong Kong and has visited most countries in Asia during the past five years.

The father of a son and three daughters – who he says help to keep him and his thinking young – Coppéré has been married for 33 years and has always kept his work and home life separate. “I know some people come back home and have a need to tell what they’ve done during the day. I’ve never, ever done that,” he says.

He also likes to ski, scuba dive and read. “Usually I can do three things at the same time: I can read a book while listening to music – pop-rock music, classical or opera – and sip a glass of Ricard.”

 


POURING OUT PROFESSIONAL POINTERS

Pierre Coppéré explains what he thinks are four keys to being a good leader:

Feel the future  “Inspiring means being visionary, and leading by example.”
Listen to others  “It’s important to have your own convictions, but you have to listen to what other people have to say, and take that into account moving forward.”
Be courageous  “Challenge the status quo. Take risks.”
Keep things fresh  “It’s easy to fall into routine things, so changing the status quo, even towards yourself – that is important.”


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2014書展攻略:職場進階必讀
Published on Monday, 14 Jul 2014
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How self-mediation resolved an office conflict
Published on Saturday, 12 Jul 2014
Cindy Fong
Brian Ng

The background
Most people spend at least a third of their lives in the workplace. Whether we like it or not, we have to return to the same place every day and communicate with the same people while trying to get our work done. Sometimes, dealing with colleagues can be a serious headache. Interpersonal relationships that go wrong at work can be disruptive and even lead to a loss of business. 

When faced with a conflict, you fight for your right, ignore the problem, or simply go to HR department to complain. You will feel very exhausted to handle these conflicts. But have you ever thought of an alternative way of dealing with workplace disputes gracefully?

The case
Samantha was a junior event planner at an event management and PR firm. Young and talented, she had handled nearly 20 events since in the nine months since she joined and was one of the most popular newcomers in the industry. 

A new administrative manager, Mavis, later came on board. Mavis used to work as a personal secretary in a private company, serving its human resources director who managed a team of eight staff. Mavis acted relatively low-key and didn’t say much in the office. Nobody in the company, except Samantha, knew that Mavis was a close friend of her boss. 

Mavis’s first assignment was to lead the team at an international conference to be held three months later. As project manager, she was responsible for planning the whole event and assigning the various tasks. 

In the first meeting, Mavis did not discuss the project much before assigning tasks to the team members. Samantha was given some simple, yet tedious, clerical work to do. She wasn’t happy with the arrangement, but hoped she’d be able to take up a more important role later.

As the project proceeded, nothing much changed for Samantha and she was assigned more clerical work. She considered herself very good at communicating with vendors, but Mavis assigned Mandy, a fresh graduate who was on board for one month, to handle all the communication work.

During project meetings, Samantha tried to raise some ideas, but was stopped by Mavis. She felt disrespected and frustrated. Worse still, she heard Mavis had been complaining about her behind her back. Samantha, a rising star before Mavis joined, was suddenly seen as an underperformer. 

She thought about quitting, but loved her job too much. She decided to try self-mediation, which she had learnt about in a seminar. She invited Mavis to a private meeting and persuaded her to agree to some ground rules.

First, the meeting would not be about finding fault. Both parties would focus on finding a mutually acceptable resolution. Second, there would be no power plays, such as raised voices, aggressive body language or emotional outbursts. Power plays will further damage relationships and hurt feelings. 

Third, there would be no leaving the meeting until it was over. Walking away would leave the conflict unresolved and issues unaddressed. The meeting would be conducted respectfully and with an open mind. Any arguing or finger-pointing would break the atmosphere and not facilitate a solution.

At the meeting, Samantha started to share how she felt about her assigned roles, but Mavis interjected to complain about her poor performance and uncooperative attitude, accusing her of challenging her decisions in front of other team members. 

Samantha nearly broke into tears, but took a deep breath and reminded Mavis of the ground rules. Whenever possible, she would acknowledge Mavis’s point of view in a positive manner and thank her for her contribution. The discussion continued more smoothly. 

Knowing Mavis was new to the company, Samantha shared her experience in previous projects. Mavis accepted her suggestions and agreed to assign her tasks that fitted her skill set. 

The Conclusion
Increasingly highly competitive work environments are leading to increased conflicts between colleagues. Failing to address these can have serious consequences, including poor employee attitudes, low morale, low productivity and excessive turnover. 
Samantha and Mavis used self-mediation to resolve their problem. They not only succeeded, but strengthened cooperation among the team, and improved their friendship. 
Samantha and Mavis decided to use self-mediation to resolve any future disputes. How about you?


Cindy Fong and Brian Ng are members of the General Mediation Interest Group under the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre’s Hong Kong Mediation Council

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10 healthy desserts to treat your weekends
Published on Thursday, 10 Jul 2014
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Open season
Published on Saturday, 05 Jul 2014
Philippines lenders headquartered in Metro Manila are being wooed by foreign suitors ahead of legislation allowing them to own local banks.
Photo:iStockphoto

Aplanned law allowing foreign firms to take full control of Philippine lenders is drawing eager suitors to the sector, including Japan's Mitsubishi and Malaysia's CIMB, bankers familiar with the matter say.

The Philippines' is one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies, with sharply boosted personal incomes and demand for loans, while the banking sector is highly fragmented, underdeveloped and ripe for consolidation.

Others looking at acquisition opportunities are private equity firms such as TPG and Taiwanese banks, say the bankers, who declined to be identified as negotiations are confidential.

"The Philippines' banking sector is an attractive market for foreign banks and PE funds because it offers the perfect mix of fast growth in individual wealth and investability," says Keith Pogson, Asia financial services leader at accounting and consultancy firm EY.

While China, Indonesia and Malaysia limit foreign investment in banks, the Philippine law will replace a cap of 60 per cent on foreign ownership and abolish previous rules that allow just 10 foreign banks in the country. Already passed by congress, the law awaits the approval of President Benigno Aquino, who indicated it is likely to come soon.

It is one of a slew of economic reforms following the Philippines long-sought-for investment-grade credit rating last year, and brings it in line with countries such as Australia and Japan, which allow banks to be wholly owned by foreign firms.

Gaining full control of a local bank will make it easier for foreign banks to capitalise on regional trade flows and serve companies in their home countries that want to invest in the Philippines. The latter motivation is particularly true of Japanese banks like Mitsubishi, banking sources says.

"All the heavy industries and construction companies from Japan see a huge amount of infrastructure spending in the Philippines," says an M&A banker at a European bank. "The Japanese banks want to be there ... so they can fund these companies. There is also a strong political desire on the part of the Japanese leadership to have strong ties with Asean."

A Japanese bank executive says his company was looking to acquire a Philippine lender, but added it had yet to narrow down any targets. The planned law was also discussed by Aquino and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Aquino's trip to Japan last month, with Abe expressing approval.

The potential for growth in retail banking may appeal to foreign banks. Over the past 10 years, the growth rate for individual wealth has averaged 12 per cent - Asia's highest, according to EY and Credit Suisse data, yet 80 per cent of Filipino households still do not have a bank account.

Malaysia's CIMB said in May it was looking at mid-tier banks after efforts to buy 60 per cent of San Miguel's unlisted banking unit fell through. Singapore's DBS is also considering opportunities in the Philippines. Last year, it walked away from Indonesia's PT Bank Danamon after changes in ownership limits prevented it taking majority control.

TPG and CVC Capital Partners are among buyout firms looking at potential acquisitions, bankers say.

The outlook for loan demand in the Philippines is robust, accounting for the industry's forward 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 14, the highest among banks in Asia-Pacific. Aggregate bank loans are expected to climb by 10 to 15 per cent this year. Central bank data shows loans for producing goods and project financing were up 19 per cent in May from a year earlier. Consumer loans were up 11 per cent.

But the industry in its entirety is small. Singapore's DBS has nearly 1.5 times more assets than the combined assets held by the Philippine banking sector. It is also overcrowded with 700 banks. Indonesia, with more than twice the population, has 120. And many lenders are truly minnows, with the top seven of 36 commercial banks controlling two-thirds of the industry's assets.

That has made a compelling case for consolidation, which has the backing of the central bank. "We've been sending the signal that if you are below a certain scale, sub-scale or your operations are not economical and competitive … either you level up or you combine or you sell out," says central bank deputy governor Nestor Espenilla.

The government is selling United Coconut Planters Bank, attracting interest from Philippine National Bank and may attract foreign bidders. Ranked 12th in the Philippines, it has assets of about 265 billion pesos (US$6 billion). But bankers note that the most appealing targets are less likely to accept a full takeover, although they may be open to selling a stake.

Two of the most attractive targets for foreign suitors may be Philippine National Bank, the country's fifth largest lender, and Rizal Commercial Banking (RCBC), ranked eighth, says Unicapital Securities equity research head Lexter Azurin. The two Philippine banks trade at price-to-book ratios of 1.4 and 1.1 respectively, cheaper than the industry average of 1.7.

Reuters

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抓緊Click Moment!
Published on Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014

「成功須苦幹」、「成功靠才能」、「成功靠人脈」及「成家靠家業」這些說話,大家都可能聽過無數人講過無數次。

不過有業務分析師研究過不少成功人士的個案後,認為這些都是當事人得到成功之後自圓其說的解釋,而且每每過度肯定這些理由的重要性。有時「隨意」才是主導成敗的最大力量。

好些人可能會對這種論調潑冷水,認為那只是懶人繼續躲懶的藉口。不過專家指出,「隨意」不等如「乜都唔使做」。其實人應該就所有情況隨機應變,即使那些情況跟你原來想象的不同,也不用以為全軍覆沒成功無望。重中之重是能夠抓住突如其來的幸運機會,是成功的轉捩點。

點解大家唔想太隨意?
很多人都不敢提出「隨意」對生活的意義,因為聽起來太不實在。如果一個成功人士跟你說他是靠運氣才成功的話,你會覺得不夠說服力,因為人通常喜歡將成功和某些因素連繫起來,覺得只要我也有這些因素,也可以成功。我們習慣了追求有形的意義,睇套戲都要勁喺套戲裡面尋找意義,否則會覺得無意思。

愛上隨意!
人們通常在出問題的時候才會接受「隨意」的存在。「咁啱搞錯咗囉」是我們常常掛在口邊的理由。不過也有例外的情況,戀愛就是最佳例子。愛情小說或者是愛情電影都強調各種浪漫事情是「隨意」和預計之外的。不過如果我們能夠接受愛情甚至婚姻這種人生大事都是由隨意而來的結果,為甚麼我們不能接受生命裡其他成功也可以是「隨意」的結果呢?

隨著世界全球化和網絡化,隨意發生的事和人際關係會愈來愈多。例如你今天排隊買早餐時,可能已經在Facebook post了幾張相,看了200個post和回了朋友幾個P.M.。這些在一瞬之間發生事可能包含一些能夠改變你生命的‘click moment’。

不要怕 儘管試
但是怎樣從每日成千上萬的訊息中,分辨出那些「堅」的click moment?主要還是要靠好奇心和直覺。例如你看到一個post宣傳某個live band show,突然腦海有個gut feeling:「雖然我唔知佢哋會玩乜嘢歌,但唔知點解我又好想去。 」就是這個feeling了。

從別人的成功經驗中學習的確有用處,但別人的的成功卻沒法完全複製過來。所謂「第一個做的是天才,第二個做的是庸才,第三個(和以後)做的是蠢材」,要成功就要與別不同;一個與別不同的點子,就能夠點石成金。最重要是在這些意念出現時能夠抓緊它,並且盡快把它實踐出來。

這樣做事不是很「求其」嗎?專家說其實「隨意」也是一種「看不到的力量」。有時未必要事事都計畫周詳。我們對「隨意」的忌諱使我們覺得「無plan就做一定會有問題」。其實即使事事都plan好,也不保證會完全無問題。只要肯試,可以得出很多可能性。樣樣都「死估估」,相信事情一定係咁咁咁,那麼生得唔靚就一定無人要?不是讀書材料就做注定乞兒?其實現實世界是沒有「一定」的,而「隨意」就是打破「一定」的關鍵!

一些從「隨意」而來的成功例子:
‧作家Stephanie Meyer做夢看到年輕吸血鬼的故事,醒來立即動筆,寫出《Twilight》這個best seller系列。
‧賣咖啡機和咖啡豆的小店東主Howard Schultz 到意大利米蘭出席一個家品會議,在街上看到意大利人的espresso bar文化,覺得美國也可以有這樣的店子,於是開設Starbucks咖啡店。
‧維珍航空創辦人Richard Branson在開設公司之前完全沒有經營航空業的經驗
‧電視劇《迷》( Lost ) 的編劇之前完全沒有編劇經驗

今時今日,要成功不只靠經驗,還須要有抓緊機會和提出新意的能力。即使你不打算做國際巨星或億萬富豪,「隨意」仍然對你有用。它會帶你到從未去過的新地方,遇上意想不到的人,讓你找到一份新工作,甚至是創出自己的事業。你要做的就是勇於嘗試。在這個網絡世界中,只要抓緊「隨意」帶來的機會,就可以擁有不一樣的人生!


如何找出Click Moment

1. 漫無目的做點事:間中抽點時間做一些無目的的事,例如閑逛及坐在咖啡室看街等,一些「隨意」發生的事件可能會找上你。

2. 換個新環境:如果你每日都到某間快餐店午飯或每天都坐同一班車返工返學的話,不妨嘗試另一家店或改坐別的交通工具。認識一些來自完全不同行業或生活圈子的人,可以給你帶來新靈感。

3. 增長見識:旅行例牌去台北三天遊?平日有時間不妨多看各式各樣的旅遊生活節目或到圖書館找一些平時不會碰的雜誌看看,認識世界各地的新奇事物。記下一些你覺得有趣的東西,然後計畫親身去看一看,讓直覺帶你到一個新天地。

4. 把意料之外變成意想不到:學習在意外事件中尋找樂趣。錯過了一班車,不要忙著打電話給朋友大吐苦水,借這個機會停下來觀察四周的事情。

5. 回顧成功過程:想想以前作出重要決定的經過。有哪些成功例子是從頭到尾細心策畫的結果?有哪些是由一些隨意事件引發的?深入了解過後,你會更了明白「隨意」的意義。


 

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