Bank of China

Cafe romance leads to nuptials but nothing else percolates down

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 12:00am

It can be a grey area: What's business and what is too personal for public consumption.

An example - a recent conversation with Mark Dickens, the Securities and Futures Commission executive director of supervision, market division.

It's Mr Dickens' first appearance in this column, so a brief introduction.

He is the longest-serving senior staff member in the securities watchdog, having joined the commission in 1991, first as senior director of corporate finance and then executive director of enforcement from January 1997.

Mr Dickens took up his current position in April 1999, under a contract that expires at the end of March.

With only two months to run and no announcement on whether he will renew his contract, rumours are rife that he will leave the commission after 14 years.

White Collar tried the direct approach. Mr Dickens' response: 'This is a personal question and I can't comment.'

But he did confirm another widespread, more personal rumour - about his love life.

Yes, the wedding bells have rung, and the reception was held in Mr Dickens' Australian home shortly after Christmas.

'I am a very lucky man,' he declared, reminding us to get the bride's name right - Ms Barbara Shiu, formerly senior director of intermediaries of the SFC.

She left the commission some years ago to work in China before recently joining Bank of China International in Hong Kong as head of risk management.

Their romance was one of the longest-circulating rumours in the market, with the pair being spotted regularly enjoying coffee shop chats in Central as far back as six years ago when the SFC and brokers were still busy with the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

White Collar offers its best wishes for a happy marriage.

sold on reward tour

Also, congratulations to the 208 MassMutual Asia agents who qualified to join the life insurer's incentive trip to New Zealand next week.

The tour, totally funded by the insurer, is an annual trip to reward the top salespeople. The destinations vary from year to year. To qualify for the six-day trip to Kiwiland, each agent needed to sell at least $600,000 worth of new premiums last year.

Among the 208 MassMutual agents, 44 had sold more than $1.2 million and 14 more than $1.8 million.

adds up to luxury

And the giveaways aren't confined to insurance companies.

At accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu's annual dinner last week, there was a lucky draw.

This was no television or electronic toothbrush giveaway. Top prize was a five-day holiday with free accommodation at any Marriott hotel in the world.

Bon voyage!

rocketing ahead

In generous mood for the New Year, Deloitte is giving clients something personal - a pocket-sized calendar card with the client's name printed on it.

White Collar also hears that American Express has something special for its members and particularly appropriate for high-flying cardholders.

The company last week announced a promotional scheme allowing members to exchange reward points for a ride into space on a suborbital spacecraft that will climb to an altitude of 100km.

However, if that dizzying prospect is too much for you, there is the option of subsonic low-altitude aerobatic flights.

premium jobs

Besides giveaways, New Year heralds new appointments.

Canadian life insurer Manulife Financial has been appointed Michael Dommermuth vice-president of investment in Asia and Kim Griffiths has been promoted to assistant vice-president of regional communications for the Asia region.

Hong Kong Federation of Insurers appointed Ambrose Cheung Wing-sum, a former legislator, as chairman of the Insurance Agents Registration Board for two years, starting from February 20.

green wishes

Hang Seng Bank stopped sending Christmas cards in 1996 in a bid to save our trees. And it has since been 'branching out', planting 30,000 trees at Shek O and Tai Po.

The bank's greening efforts have been recognised with an ISO14001 certificate - the world's most recognised standard for environmental management systems.

Friends of the Earth!

research and find

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has appointed Hans Genberg as executive director in charge of research.

He starts his new job on February 7 and will also become the director of the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.

Mr Genberg has extensive experience in research and teaching.

He has worked as a professor of economics in the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva since 1979, and is currently head of the institute's economics section. Mr Genberg has published widely on issues related to monetary and exchange rate policy.