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New SGX boss should be given time to make his mark

I've  noticed  that there's been some discussion in the past couple of weeks in the BT mailbag as to whether the new SGX boss will be able to revive the local market. So much so that as I write this blog entry, SGX's shares have rallied more than 5 per cent with some observers saying the rise is because yesterday was the outgoing boss's last day, thus implying the jump is a relief rally.  I think that's unfair on both CEOs - the outgoing head Magnus Bocker because it's absurd to blame him for a region-wide slump in equities and a fall in liquidity caused by central bank tapering, and the incoming boss Loh Boon Chye  because he hasn't even started the job yet! (On a separate note, I would have liked to see MAS query SGX on reasons for the price rise, but that's by the way).

Truth is though, Mr Loh will have his work cut out for him when he gets into the swing of things and should be given ample time to make his mark. I've not met him but by all accounts from contacts and colleagues, he is a solid, capable leader who has all the qualities needed to succeed. Is it reasonable to hope that he might bring about change for the better? Yes I think so. It's a high-profile, stressful job but the rewards for succeeding are not inconsequential, not just in monetary terms but also in reputational recognition. But he cannot be expected to work any magic in a few days, months or even a year. I think a reasonable assessment period is at least two years, though this might be open to debate, especially among TRs who are impatient for immediate change.

Of course, timing will play a big role since he's assuming the mantle of CEO at a time of great uncertainty - Greece's default on its IMF payment yesterday looms large in the minds of all markets, the US Fed looks like it will raise interest rates in Sep (although I think this isn't justified because the US economy isn't really recovering - but again, that's by the way) and China's massive volatility is a big worry. But contrarians might argue that it's better to take control when things are bad because then the only direction would be up, as opposed to assuming the helm when things are booming and the chances of a downturn are greater.

All I can say for now is that the new boss should be given time to effect any changes and that patience should be the watchword.

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