UOB launches exclusive circle for next gen leaders of Asia's family businesses

Next generation leaders of family-led firms in Asia can now be part of an exclusive circle by United Overseas Bank (UOB), gaining access to cross-industry and cross-border connections. 

The Business Circle - launched by UOB in the presence of over 300 business owners from Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand on Tuesday - is only open to the bank’s clients, including young entrepreneurs under the age of 40 who run businesses with at least S$20 million in turnover. 

Family firms are a "significant contributor" to Asia’s continued economic growth, said Frederick Chin, UOB's head of group wholesale banking and markets, citing an EY report in 2014 that showed family businesses accounted for 34 per cent of the region's gross domestic product. 

"Having worked with businesses across generations, we know that experience, expertise and creativity can take any business to greater heights and we want to help them in that process," Mr Chin said.

"In time, we hope that the members themselves will help other family firms succeed."

Through the community, members can tap the expertise and experience of established business leaders - like Sunseap Group founder Frank Phuan and Singapore-listed Excelpoint Systems' group CEO and chairman, Albert Phuay - whose businesses generate a combined turnover of S$4 billion. 

In addition, UOB and its partners will run masterclasses and workshops for them on topics such as business diversification, digitalisation and cross-border expansion.

The bank will also organise business missions overseas for members to explore opportunities and build connections with local business leaders, starting with a trip to Chengdu and Chongqing in China in November. 

Some 50 next generation business owners will visit the Liangjiang New Area's Digital Economy Industrial Park to learn how companies use technology to design solutions to widen their market reach or to improve customer experience.

They will also visit Hema, Alibaba's technology-driven supermarket, to understand how the company is redesigning the retail experience.

The new initiative resonates with Excelpoint's Mr Phuay, who first started out as a one-man operation selling electronics components in 1987.

"In the past, we had to build these connections from scratch but with this amazing initiative, the new generation will be able to gain such connections easily," he said.