Traditional role of Finance Companies
The finance companies are much smaller in scale compared with commercial banks, and they are also saddled with more restrictions which will be discussed later in the report. Traditionally, they relied on their personalized and flexible services to attract clients. This is because there are always consumers who are rejected by the commercial banks because adding these consumers to their portfolios would be uneconomical for these commercial banks as their economies of scale cannot offset the transactional costs these clients would bring because of the small margins these smaller consumers bring. These mainly include people or companies who do not have the capital to meet the relatively higher capital requirements of the commercial banks compared to finance companies. One example would be the current business account for companies. The major banks such as DBS and OCBC also offer low startup requirements, but charge a monthly management fee if their balances fall below $10,000 , not a big amount for businesses but possibly a stretch on new and small scale businesses. Hence, finance companies plug that gap with much lower balance requirements that would be more attractive to these business owners. Another example would be home loans by which finance companies offer a wider range of interest rates for a different range of financing needs compared to commercial banks who offer more generic rates on a whole. Emerging opportunities for Finance Companies
Financial companies are however, now exploring new opportunities that they have not been able to capitalize on before. For example, Hong Leong has recently been awarding underwriting rights by the MAS, a traditional stronghold of commercial banks. This has redefined the boundaries that a traditional finance company in Singapore held due to regulations under the finance companies’ act. Wealth management, a relatively fast growing new segment in Singapore, has seen Hong Leong also wrestling in with a slice of the pie that many expected the commercial and investment banks monopolize. Industry Performance
Finance companies form a small and unique portion of the financial services sector here in Singapore. A large part of their income comes in the form of interest income from loans and also commission fees for services that they offer. By focusing on domestic opportunities, they have managed to avoid exposure to the credit crisis that many others in the sector have been affected by. This has thus helped all 3 firms in the sector to post stellar results over the past year. As shown below, Singapore’s GDP growth YoY was 7.7%, a slight moderation from the 8.2% in 2006. This represents opportunities as the need for financial services increase as people in Singapore gain affluence.
Growth of profit for Finance Companies
Growth on EBIT ranged from a low of 38.7% to a high of 65.2% riding on increased receivables for all 3 finance companies. This is exceptional considering the cloud that has shrouded the financial sector in recent times. In dollar terms, their profits grew by SGD$43million to a total of over SGD$150million. Also, operational efficiency was a strong driver of the profit growth. Revenues remained rather stable and it was the decreased operating costs that led to higher profits according to the financial reports released. This could be due to reasons such as improved technical systems or improved employee proficiencies. Growth of property & construction revenue segment
There is a strong focus on the “heartland” consumers and increased demand for housing, particularly in HDB flats, has led to opportunities that finance companies have leveraged on to cement their stake in this niche market. Although commercial banks also offer housing loans, finance companies are able to adapt each individual loan to consumer’s requirements because they enjoy greater flexibility...