SCCA Fireside Chat #3 on a programme overview of BUSINESS LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME FOR CORPORATE COUNSEL held on 15 May 2017 evening at The Co. @ 75 High Street

May,18 2017

This is the final Chat session on the Leadership programme.  NTU’s Nanyang Business School Associate Professor Victor Yeo introduced the programme’s key objective, which is to add value to the role of the in-house counsel in her company by empowering participants with business management and strategy skills.  NTU’s Nanyang Business School Professor Low Buen Sin, the designated lead trainer for the proposed Module 2 called “Value Creation and Financial Decisions”, emphasized how important it is for an in-house counsel to understand Finance concepts.  Prof Low went on to illustrate how company objectives are underpinned by 4 interrelated components: Strategy, Operations, Financing and Investment. Prof Low shared a few simple examples of the financial metrics used by GIC, SIA and Royal Dutch Shell to determine shareholder return and fair value.  Prof Low proposed to include 1 case study of long-term financing in the module to help participants understand what creates value for the company and its shareholders.

Questions and comments included:

  • How will the programme design leverage on the Executive Mentoring component to make this programme richer? 
  • Good financial literacy module for M&A investments and helpful for in-house counsel working in financial institutions. 
  • Where is my value as an in-house counsel in a “balanced scorecard” scenario?  Where is my in-house legal contribution value in a Financial Statement? 
  • The Corporate Legal Department is always seen as a cost centre.  We would like senior management to recognise the in-house counsel’s value in company financials.  What can we pull out from the company’s accounts that can be seen as attributable to the Corporate Legal Department?  How can we see the Corporate Legal Department’s value-add reflected in company financials? 
  • How does the in-house counsel avoid staying on the “cost side”?  How do we create a formula that is not merely a variation of “cost centre accounting”? 
  • In a project review, the in-house counsel needs to see and understand the Financial Controller’s point of view.  The in-house counsel can benefit from general financial literacy training as well as more training on structuring a project to recover cost from the client; to contribute from the revenue and the cost side. 
  • How does an in-house counsel create value?  In an M&A deal, she could negotiate for a better price.  In a commercial dispute, she could settle at a better price than internal expectations.  Her value to the company is negotiating a good strike price which surpasses the internal finance guidelines. 
  • We need to show “cost savings” by the in-house counsel as a measure of value of the Corporate Legal Department. 
  • The programme could articulate the long-term value of the in-house counsel in financial terms.  For example, a risk management role in spotting financial irregularities, eg. in Enron or World.Com situations. 
  • This programme should include financial case studies: how did they do this in the past?  In an M&A deal, what was the way it was done?  The in-house counsel needs to know (through the case studies learning) whether she is leaving money on the table, whether she is being ripped off or concluding a good deal. 

SCCA President Emeritus Angeline Lee concluded the session by reiterating that SCCA and NTU are calibrating the programme content to ensure relevance to in-house counsel.  She called for submission of Singapore/Asian-themed cases and asked attendees to contribute, and also issued a call for volunteer Mentors.  Angeline then thanked all attendees on behalf of the SCCA for raising their questions, sharing their suggestions and closed the discussion with an invitation to network and to continue sharing ideas.  Angeline also thanked law firm Rajah & Tann for sponsoring all 3 Fireside Chat sessions. 

The SCCA values your candid comments on this programme and wants to continue engaging you!  What would you expect to learn from this programme?  Please email your comments to Angeline Lee at: secretariat@scca.org.sg.   The SCCA will provide updates on the Leadership programme content and its launch soon.