Friday, June 30, 2017

Telephone conversation with a Singapore conference organiser

I was invited to be a panel member in an investment seminar organized by a subsidiary of a large media company in Singapore. I asked the staff to telephone me. I received a call at the arranged time.

TKL - Can you tell me about the format of the panel discussion. How many panel members? How many people in the audience?

Staff - The panel will comprise of 4 people, including you, and a moderator. It will take 45 minutes. We expect about 200 people in the audience.

TKL - What do I get for spending the time? Can I distribute a flyer to the audience?

Staff - We do not pay any speaker or panel member. We will put your name in our website. Sorry, we cannot distribute your flyer. We have a paid service to distribute flyers.

TKL - You ask me to spend time and pay me nothing. You want to charge me for distributing a flyer?

Staff - Sorry, Mr. Tan. We don't pay any of the speakers. So, we can't pay you.

TKL - Do you get the venue (Suntec City) for free? I know that you probably have to pay a lot of money for the venue. Why can't you spend some money to pay your speakers?

(The staff must think that I want the money for myself! I don't need it, but other speakers or panel members are not so well off as me. Usually I donate the fee to the Financial Services Consumer Association)

TKL - I have been invited by a Swiss organization to speak to the participants of their management programme. Do you know how much they pay me for 45 minutes, including questions and answers?

Staff - Maybe $10,000?

TKL - No. Not so much. It is a small group. They pay me $2,000. And they have been re-inviting me for several years.

TKL - I know that you would probably have to pay $50,000 or more to invite a foreign speaker to give a keynote address. Why can't you set aside a budget to give a modest fee to local speakers? Why do you want to exploit the local speakers to this extent?

Staff - Sorry, Mr. Tan. This is the local practice. We have been doing it like this for many years.

TKL - I will be posting this conversation in social media.

Staff - Mr. Tan, please don't. I will get into trouble. If you don't want to speak, OK. But please don't post into social media.

TKL - Don't worry. I won't mention your name. But I want the public to know this is how our conference organisers treat local speakers.

Conclusion: I don't have to say it. But you would know that I decline the invitation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And probably such financial seminars will require public to pay to attend...

Recently another financial blogger also mentioned something similar. He also gets a few solicitations to speak or be a panelist at various financial seminars, and quite a number of them don't want to compensate for time & effort. Needless to say, he will decline the invitations.

I think it's troubling that many paid & probably for-profit seminars are so shameless as to ask for free service. Somemore it's something related to investments & making money. Just like many financial salesmen from banks & insurance companies, you can tell where their interests lie --- their own pockets.

Frankly I doubt if they can get established, successful veteran investors to be panelists at their seminars, if they expect free service. Instead what they will end up getting will be opportunists who will use the event as marketing event to peddle their own services & products. The biggest losers as usual will be the man-in-the-street who attends the seminars & listens to all the soft-sell and hard-sell.

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