With the proliferation of alternative forms of finance such as online crowdfunding platforms, it is not inconceivable that crowdfunding via online platforms could become a major source of corporate finance. Concurrently, some have observed that traditional banks have been slow to respond to the digital innovations that are radically changing business models.
It was against this backdrop that we organised our inaugural professional debate on the topic of ‘Exploring the changing frontiers of corporate finance’ which happened on the morning of Wednesday 30 September 2015.
Comprising CFOs, senior finance professionals and industry experts, the proposition and opposition teams brought up strong and compelling points for the motion – “In the midst of the digital revolution, Singapore’s largest banks today will relinquish their position as the dominant players in corporate finance in 2025.”
Moderated by Cesar Bacani, Editor-in-Chief of CFO Innovation Asia, the audience was treated to a fierce and lively exchange that considered the following issues:
- Will alternative forms of finance such as digital online financing platforms (crowdfunding, peer–to–peer (P2P) business lending) take over corporate finance from traditional banks?
- How will Singapore banks fare in this dynamic environment?
- The future of corporate financing and its implications on financing decisions to be made by CFOs, accountancy and finance professionals.
The ideas of revolution vs. evolution, and the role of innovation vs. regulation provided much room for an interesting discussion.
Views from the Proposition
The team positioned the digital revolution and alternative forms of finance like crowdfunding as “an advancing tide that cannot be overcome”. Moreover, banks more often than not, overlooked and underserved SMEs in their financing schemes. They also believed that providers of alternative forms of financing provided superior customer service at cost-effective prices to SMEs that they claim the banks did not.
Views from the Opposition
The opposing view was built on the ability of banks to survive and reinvent themselves to ensure they are relevant and continue to add-value to the community. The team likened the banking industry to the telecommunication industry, which was forced to reinvent their offerings with the rise of alternative forms of communications like Whatsapp and Viber – and by doing so, they still remain relevant today.
An argument was also built on the fact that crowdfunding seemed to be a digital version of the traditional methods of borrowing money from friends and family to fund a project, and cannot really be considered an innovation.
The event was attended by CFOs, finance managers, auditors; as well as senior staff from MOF (Ministry of Finance), MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore), WDA (Workforce Development Agency), banks and crowdfunding platforms.
To gauge industry sentiment, we put them to a poll on the motion, both at the start of the debate and at the end of the debate, after they considered the arguments of both teams.
Here is a glimpse of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ results.
Special thanks to the following people for taking time off their busy schedules to contribute their industry and professional insights that made for a highly-charged debate with some key takeaways for the audience:
- Mr Cesar Bacani, Editor-in-Chief of CFO Innovation Asia.
Members of the Proposition Team
- Gabriel Low, CFO (SEA), GEA Westfalia;
- Tan Lee Ren, Head of Operations, CoAssets
- Patrick Teng, Founder & Chief Dealer, Six Capital (Asia’s Centre of Excellence for Forex Training and Trading).
Members of the Opposition Team
- Venkat Padmanabhan, President & Global Finance Head –Products, Olam International;
- Robert Whittemore, Assistant General Manager, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Limited
- Ajay Sunder, Vice President – Telecoms, APAC, Frost & Sullivan.
We enjoyed organising this debate and look forward to organising the next one on another exciting industry topic!
More pictures taken at the debate can be found on our Facebook Page.
To find out more about events organised by ACCA Singapore and to register, please click here.