Singapore and MCG&’s APAC expansion…

27th September 2017

Last week saw Justin McGuire, Tom Watterson and I jet off to Singapore for a week of meetings with both clients old and new as well as looking for potential new office space and team & agency leads for SEA.

Conveniently timed (purely co-incidentally) to coincide with the Singaporean Formula One night race held over the weekend of the 15th/16th/17th September we secured tickets for the race on Sunday. I’m a big F1 fan, Justin and Tom less so; as a result, the most fun was to be had with G&T’s in hand and dad dancing to ‘Girls on Film’ with Duran Duran prior to the race start. The rain that fell didn’t dampen our spirits as we made a night of it; it’s an event not to be missed, whether you live in Singapore or are visiting!

I’d heard when setting up the office in Hong Kong many candidates and clients utter the words ‘why not Singapore’, something that at the start played on my mind. Hong Kong however has been a roaring success and we always had our eye on Singapore from day one (in fact the first deal I secured with MCG& was in Singapore) and subsequently when reviewing the figures for the first year of trading we found that 38% of our revenue had been generated from Singapore; if you needed a business case to have another office I think we just made it. It comes as no surprise that Singapore is actually the APAC hub for many agencies from Australia, beating the likes of Melbourne and Sydney to that accolade. If there was any doubt that Singapore is struggling, we didn’t see it.

Our meeting with clients ranged from fiercely independent agencies to group owned giants. We were pleased to have picked up roles at most meetings, again reconfirming the fact that Singapore makes perfect sense for us to have our 2nd APAC office to service SEA. A total of 31 roles were picked up across Singapore, China, and Hong Kong as a direct result of this trip alone. Despite many of the ‘Groups’ having hiring freezes in place it was clearly apparent that there were ways around this. Many were talking of the positives of what may be perceived as bad news in the press; the majority of clients were ‘glass half full’ as opposed to the other way around. One client had planned a 40% increase in staff headcount across their Singapore office, something we are tasked with helping them achieve. It was a pleasant surprise to hear of many local agencies doing so well in this ever changing market. The vibe that you get as you walk into many studios is of energy, passion and an overwhelming sense of pride to be Singaporean. For the first time in years (or ever) they are being taken seriously and are not only competing against the well established players but winning.

MCG&Group’s wider collection of companies were incredibly well received. Ampersand managed by Nick Clements and Chris Quy has been doing some brilliant work client side in MENA and Europe across L&D and Singapore is next on their hit list with a global airline in November. Hopscotch run and managed by Helen McGuire continues to open doors and impress with its fantastic diversity and online platform launching in the next month or so. Asia is ready for this, no scrap that, NEEDS this. I know that both Ampersand and Hopscotch will be a roaring success over in Hong Kong and Singapore and can’t wait to see the expansion of these services take off.

All that’s left to say is a huge thanks to all of the clients and recruiters that took time out to meet Justin, Tom and I; that made for a very successful and rewarding trip. So, as September ends we look towards Q4 and the end of the year with renewed passion. Asia has been a great success for MCG& as a business and we look forward to building on the hard work that has allowed us to compete with some of the more established names in the APAC market. Here’s to a brilliant Q4 and a VERY exciting 2018!