end of the road for agents and agencies
I once wrote about the participation of GLCs in the domestic economy, competing with the SMEs and little individuals for business, flexing their financial muscles, contacts and expertise. All these will only drive the small businesses out of business. I advocated that GLCs, because of their size and finances, and govt links, should compete in areas where barriers to entry are high and difficult for SMEs. When Temasek starts to expand overseas buying up other big companies, I thought that is what they should be doing. And when they compete in a different market with the biggies, the domestic markets can be left for the SMEs and little individuals whom they want to encourage to be entrepreneurs, to have a go at them. Looks like this is not going to be the case. From the way things are moving, all the agents and agencies will be driven out of business. The provider of services or product agencies cannot compete with the big boys when they are unleashed to wipe out all the small businesses. With the latest rulings on commission for housing agents, where only one side needs to pay, housing agent's income will be half. And if this is extended further, when buyer and seller are encouraged to do it themselves, or go online, that will be the end of the housing agent industry. The stockbroking agents are struggling to make ends meet. The drop in business and commission is already wiping out any growth in their income. Now the banks are allowed to trade stocks for their clients. This is already bad enough. Taking more clients out of the market from the small stockbroking agents as if the banks will go broke for lack of business. The worst to come is for the banks to compete by slashing commission rates. That will kill an industry that is struggling to be alive. So with the banks going upstream and downstream for more businesses, is there any room for the small individuals? Isn't it the govt's intention to limit the banks to just do banking and divest all their assets and businesses in non core areas? And for small product agencies, don't be too happy. Soon all the agencies too will be usurped by the bigger GLCs. But for all those who will be driven out of their agent and agency businesses, do not despair. The govt will be more than willing to help. Many jobs are created specially for them. Go for retraining, and clean tables at foodcourts. Or become environment specialists, cut and water plants or sweep floors. And with mechanisation, the jobs are quite comfortable. And for those who still can't make it, or can't bring themselves down to these professional levels of their new jobs, they can queue up for Comcare handouts. The whole game plan has been carefully planned as part of the restructuring that the country is going through. And it is good for everyone. Majulah Singapura!