Magazine article The Journal of Lending & Credit Risk Management

RMA Arrives at the Equator

Magazine article The Journal of Lending & Credit Risk Management

RMA Arrives at the Equator

Article excerpt

When Nicholas Hayes, director, Global Relations, RMA, picked Singapore as the location for the Asia Pacific Round Table in February 1997, it was apparent that he had an ulterior motive. A year earlier, Hong Kong hosted the first RMA round table in the region and a very successful chapter was subsequently launched. During that 1997 conference, Nick approached Steve Buster from Standard Chartered Bank and asked him to form a founders' committee to determine if there was sufficient interest in establishing a local chapter in Singapore. With 234 banks in Singapore, it was an obvious choice and, as they say...the rest is history.

The first meeting of the founders' committee was held in March 1997. Members were selected from a variety of North American, European, regional, and local financial institutions. Except for Steve, the balance of the committee had one thing in common - limited previous experience with RMA.

Choosing the Right Structure

At our first meeting, we narrowed the options down to either forming a society or incorporating a company. Singapore has somewhat of a history with societies...secret societies. These societies had been used by triads and other gangs to legitimize their operations. So, we chose to incorporate.

We followed the example established by Hong Kong and set up a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. The Hong Kong "Memorandum and Articles of Association" were used as our precedent document. (They borrowed theirs from Montreal.) After paying our counsel a large amount of money (they thought we got a deal), Singapore now has the definitive document and we would be pleased to share this with any new chapters. While there are a number of legal and regulatory requirements associated with incorporating a company in Singapore, we found that it provided us with the most flexibility and protection for our institutional members.

Choosing the Date for the First Event

Initially, our target was to hold the first Singapore event before the summer of 1997. As June is a school break in Singapore (many local bankers take vacation leave) and most expatriate bankers holiday in July or August, we moved our target date forward to September. We had planned the event around a scheduled visit by Nick Hayes to Singapore (unfortunately, he wasn't the only "haze" in the area much of last fall).

For a variety of reasons, it took a long time to finalize our incorporation. During this time, our counsel advised us not to hold our initial event until after we had been officially sanctioned/registered. September came and went without being registered as did the notion of holding the first event. Finally notification of incorporation was received in late October. However, many of us seemed preoccupied in late October...sending exposure reports to our headquarters and dodging bullets!

Finally, we agreed to hold our inaugural event in late January. Nick Hayes was again in town for the 1998 round table scheduled for Kuala Lumpur. It had taken us exactly one year to stage our first event.

In retrospect, our timing was impeccable. Credit officers in the region were gathering regularly at restructuring meetings yet there was no forum for credit professionals to meet and exchange views in a structured environment.

The First Event: Lessons Learned

The theme for our first program was lessons learned from the market turbulence in Asia. The format included a 30-minute networking reception followed by an introduction to RMA by Nick Hayes. …

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