Exclusive Interview with Mark Liew, CEO of PrimePartners
Recently, we got in touch with Mark Liew, the CEO of PrimePartners and also one of the renowned panel of judges for the upcoming Investor-One Challenge, for how he got started in his career and words of wisdom for budding young professionals who wants to venture into corporate finance.
1.PrimePartners is one of Singapore’s leading corporate finance firms. As the CEO, can you share some key milestones of the company over the years?
We are one of the pioneer batch of Full Sponsors authorised by the Singapore Exchange to undertake introducing and continuing sponsorship activities for companies listed on Catalist, the sponsor-supervised listing platform to attract fast growing companies to raise capital in Asia.
Our continuing sponsorship services include working with the boards of directors of our sponsored companies to effect their growth plans through acquisitions, fund-raising and restructuring, and providing guidance to our sponsored companies on compliance with the listing rules.
Here’s the list of milestones we’ve achieved over the years:
2003:Received Capital Market Services licence
2004: Completed first listing
2008: Approved as pioneer batch of full sponsors for Catalist
2011: First mining company listed
2013: First Japanese company listed
2015: First Israeli company listed
2018 was also a special year: it was our 15th anniversary as a company, 10th anniversary as full sponsor and we’ve 64 listings completed to date.
2. How does PrimePartner work with and help companies wanting to get listed on SGX in Singapore?
We really do handhold clients through the listing process. To keep it simple to understand, there are key 3 main steps.
First, understanding the owners’ objectives, the management’s style and the company’s business model.
Next, actively manage the listing and due diligence process and exercising judgement in resolving the issues raised.
Finally, championing the company with both regulators and investors.
As for post-listing, we continue the engagement advising on compliance, and connecting clients with capital and opportunities.
3. We’re interested in your inspiring story: how did you get started in your career and how did you get to become CEO of PrimePartners today?
After graduating with a degree in Accountancy, started my career in corporate banking during the Asian financial crisis – a real-world crash course in credit analysis, loan management and corporate restructuring.
Made the switch to corporate finance two years later and have not looked back.
Joined PrimePartners 15 years ago and had the great privilege of working with experienced founder shareholders, management and staff, focused on advisory and capital-raising activities.
We built a niche servicing mid-market companies in Asia as an honest broker and independent adviser.
Regular dialogue with regulators and market intermediaries helped us to keep our pulse on market trends. We took calculated risks when opportunities presented themselves and learnt from our missteps.
As part of succession planning, the company sponsored my participation in the Advanced Management program at Harvard end-2016 and I took over the CEO role early-2019.
4. Is there a figure in the investment field who inspires you?
Not specifically, even though I find the lives and perspectives of influential people like Leonarda da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Andy Grove, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs more instructive.
5. What’s your philosophy in running a company?
It’s really important to have a corporate culture where staff recognize that they are in the same boat and pull together as one.
Respecting each individual’s voice and contribution and understanding different points of view is essential to find a better solution, whenever we reach roadblocks.
Lastly, think like an owner and always make decisions for the long-term.
6. What are the most important skill sets that you reckon are crucial in this ever-changing finance industry and how can someone acquire or hone these skills quickly in today’s context?
Future finance leaders need to have a good understanding of market, regulatory and political developments, particularly the impact of technology, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence on banking and finance.
A single career path in the future is much less likely. Adopt a growth mindset, combined with a willingness to adapt and learn new skills.
That’d take you far in this field.
7. What qualities do you look out for when it comes to hiring a potential candidate?
There are 4 key qualities I look out for when it comes to hiring an eligible candidate:
1. Leadership potential
2. Interpersonal and teamwork skills
3. Analytical and problem-solving skills
4. Intellectual curiosity
8. Lastly, what advice do you have for budding young professionals who aim to achieve accelerated career progression in this field of corporate finance?
Here’s my take:
1. Build a diverse network by interacting with different groups of people.
2. Keep an open mind to learning opportunities and take on new assignments/responsibilities outside your comfort zone to stretch yourself.
3. Pursue a post-graduate degree.
Once again, Mark Liew is the CEO of PrimePartners and also one of the renowned panel of judges for the upcoming Investor-One Challenge.
Investor-One Challenge is the biggest, public stock pitch, ever held in Singapore. Registration is still open here.
Thanks for reading.
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