SINGAPORE (July 17): The uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact has led investors to flock to safe haven assets and the disrupted global demand and supply chains have caused a free fall in commodity prices such as oil. Trading activities have increased as savvy investors seek to capitalise on this unprecedented volatility to step up their participation in the financial markets.

At PhillipCapital, the number of first quarter 2020 new account applications has increased threefold from the last three years’ average. “Personal investing is more important now than ever and stocks trading has regained popularity because it is one of the most foundational investment instruments,” explains Luke Lim, managing director at Phillip Securities, the brokerage arm of PhillipCapital. 

Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, PhillipCapital with its network of 15 Phillip Investor Centres located across Singapore, is a household name for stocks and derivatives trading as well as wealth management. 

Listening to customers results in long-term partnership
PhillipCapital started business with retail stockbroking and remains steadfast in serving the “man on the street”. Today, PhillipCapital also serves the affluent individuals, family offices, corporate and institutional customers in Asia and beyond. “These clients’ needs may differ, but they have a common denominator in wanting to protect, grow, and manage their wealth,” adds Lisa Lee, executive director of Phillip Securities.

The group understands the importance to continuously reinvent themselves to meet the changing needs of investors in online trading, advisory wealth management and discretionary portfolio management. Understanding and meeting customers’ needs have enabled the company to serve generations of clients as their partner in finance for over 45 years. “We became a proponent for investor education and helped to raise the financial literacy in Singapore. We have served our clients and their multi-generational families over the decades,” says Luke.

Multi-market, multi-product
PhillipCapital can rightly claim it has been staying at the forefront of industry trends and innovation. Internet stock trading may be ubiquitous today but that was not always the case. Back in 1996, PhillipCapital was the first brokerage firm to launch an online trading platform, POEMS (Phillip’s Online Electronic Mart System) to trade stocks listed on the Singapore Exchange. Today, POEMS is a multi-market, multi-product suite of trading platforms that include POEMS Mobile and POEMS Mercury that cater to different segments of investors to trade the global markets at their own convenience. 

PhillipCapital offers trading access to more than 26 stock exchanges, enabling its clients to select from a broad variety of over 40,000 financial products. Its network of Phillip Investor Centres in the heartlands of Singapore ensures a high level of customer support and engagement with investors. “Proximity is key and we aim to serve clients locally and globally through our strong network connectivity. We have also developed a wealth management platform to enable our financial advisery representatives and wealth managers to serve their clients better through advisory and/or discretionary portfolio,” adds Lisa.

PhillipCapital currently hires more than 5,000 employees across 15 countries and boasts a customer base of more than one million. The firm is entrusted with client assets under management of more than US$35 billion. 

To continue staying relevant, PhillipCapital leverages new technologies to enhance its engagement with clients and partners in the digital age. “On a B2B level, partners can leverage our POEMS API ecosystem and infrastructure to develop innovative solutions,” Luke explains. “By combining our wide range of financial products on POEMS, we have established unique interbroking and wealth management turnkey solutions for financial institutions.” As part of its strategy to expand its reach to regional B2B clients, PhillipCapital provides front-office trading applications, middle office risk management and back-office solution systems to financial institutions in the region through its IT company, Cyberquote.

On product diversification, the group’s fund management arm, Phillip Capital Management has grown to be one of the leading ETF issuers in Singapore, with ETFs listed on SGX such as Phillip SGX APAC Dividend Leaders REITs and Phillip Sing Income ETF. It also manages one of the largest SGD Money Market Fund in Singapore, with fund size over $1 billion. To offer derivatives and forex trading to customers, Phillip Futures was set up in 1983. Today, Phillip Futures’ clients have a wide selection of leveraged products to choose from, including CFDs, forex, gold, commodities and stock index futures.

Staying ahead
To stay ahead, PhillipCapital responds to customers’ needs for more cost-effective and user-friendly investment tools by leveraging on technology to deliver better products and services and online processes such as online account opening and e-payment. 

Embracing FinTech to evolve and grow, PhillipCapital’s venture capital arm, POEMS Venture, has been investing in FinTech companies that are “willing to push the boundaries” with new technologies and applications that can complement PhillipCapital’s assets. The seed funding investments, according to Luke, range between US$100,000 and US$300,000. 

Besides contributing capital, PhillipCapital also offers valuable mentorship and business guidance by drawing upon its decades of experience of helping SMEs in their financing needs. This is done through its associate company, IFS Capital, which recently launched a series of FinTech lending solutions to the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market. 

It has also set its sight on a bigger roadmap in the digital finance space. Late last year — as part of a consortium that includes Hong Kong-listed Sheng Ye Capital and FinTech firm Advance.AI — PhillipCapital has applied for a wholesale digital bank licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Appreciating the importance of scale, on June 29, Phillip Securities announced the acquisition of RHB Securities’ Singapore brokerage operations. The deal, slated for completion in 3Q this year, will further strengthen PhillipCapital’s team of more than 800 financial advisory consultants and trading representatives. “We believe that this acquisition will bring us new clients and a team of experienced dealers and trading representatives, reinforcing PhillipCapital’s position as an integrated financial house in the region,” says Luke.

Long-term benefits to customers
According to Luke, PhillipCapital’s bid to grow new markets and offer new products and services is founded on three key thrusts.

First, PhillipCapital must listen and understand customers’ evolving financial needs in order to provide the expert advice and solution. Next, the firm collaborates with only the best financial service partners to curate the most suitable financial products and solution for customers. Thirdly, PhillipCapital will focus on developing blue ocean strategies. Rather than fighting within a limited market base on price alone — PhillipCapital’s strategy for the longer term is to create better value over cost in new markets and in turn give clients a higher value, says Luke.

These are important as PhillipCapital charts its global expansion for the next 45 years and beyond. As the group’s founding chairman, Lim Hua Min advocates “We must continue to play positive sum games, not for short term gains but for the long-haul benefit to our customers, our sales force and the company.”

This is well echoed by the next generation of four executive directors appointed and tasked to bring the group to the next level of growth in the digital age of information. Guided by a set of corporate codes inherited from Lim, the founding chairman and the past directors who have retired to pass the baton to the younger leadership, “At the centre of the company ethos, our continuing existence and relevance is united in our people who share a common purpose in our core values to be a long term “partner in finance” to all our clients and stakeholders,” concludes Luke.

Visit https://www.phillip.com.sg/ to find out how PhillipCapital can become your one-stop partner for all your financial needs.