Emerging Giants in the ASPAC Region – Manila Bulletin

Every first week of October, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) celebrates the annual FINEX Week with various activities revolving around a central theme. In the decade before the pandemic, it was highlighted by the annual FINEX conference held at one of Metro Manila’s hotels. During the 1990s and 2000s, the conference venue shifted to major provincial cities like Cebu, Davao, Baguio, and Subic every two years, but this practice was stopped in the 2010s.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 and 2021, FINEX week became a series of webinars hosted by global and regional guest speakers whose sessions were all virtual. With the easing of restrictions this year, a hybrid format was used consisting of webinar sessions on October 3, 4, 6 and 7 plus an in-person event at the Fairmont Hotel Makati on October 5. The conference theme for the 2022 edition is “Reshaping the Future with Transformational Change”.

“Emerging Giants in Asia-Pacific: The Secret to Business Success” was the topic of the final virtual session of this year’s conference. The four speakers were: Philip An, co-founder of Homebase, headquartered in Vietnam; Darius Cheung, CEO of 99.co, based in Singapore; Dr. Roberto Galang, Dean of the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo de Manila University; and Darren Yong, head of technology, media and telecommunications at KPMG Asia Pacific. FINEX President Michael Guarin was the forum moderator.

The session was an offshoot of a recent study conducted by KPMG Asia Pacific and HSBC involving 6,472 tech-focused startups with valuations of up to $500 million and considered potential emerging giants in 12 key markets: Mainland China , India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Of this group of companies, 10 have been identified as the top emerging giants for each of the 12 markets, as well as the top 100 emerging giants in the Asia-Pacific region. Companies from mainland China (32.8%), India (30.1%) and Japan (12.7%) dominated the latter list.

One of the key takeaways from the study is that more than a billion Asians will be middle class by 2030, according to Austria-based World Data Lab. China’s current middle class of 900 million will grow to 1.2 billion by the end of this decade, followed by India which will double its middle class population from 400 million to 800 million.

The rest will be made up of Southeast Asia, led by increases of 76 million in Indonesia, 38 million in the Philippines and 23 million in Vietnam. ASEAN countries have proportions of millennials and Gen Zers who consider themselves digital natives – eager to try and adopt new technologies.

“Asia-Pacific is in the midst of a major business shift as fast-growing companies harness the potential of new technologies. Across the region, not only is the number of startups growing, but also their size and importance. At the same time, new verticals are emerging that are attracting investment dollars and inspiring more and more startup founders to enter the space,” the joint KPMG-HSBC study said.

Unfortunately, the Philippines is not among the 12 key markets identified as targets for venture capital investments. Thus, no Philippine company appears in the list of emerging giants for the entire region. Are we going to miss the boat again?

J. Albert Gamboa is a life member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is Chairman of FINEX’s Media Affairs Committee and Editor-in-Chief of FINEX Digest. The opinion expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph

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