On December 7, 2017, I was very fortunate to get a chance to talk face-to-face with Mr.Lai Voon San, a fund veteran who has a decades of experience in equity research and fund management, in the headquarter of Value Partners Group, the largest individual fund manager in Hong Kong with an AUM of US$14 billion. Here is a brief note for our discussion. The discussion inspired me a lot.
Job Interview Tips: Show the Real Passion
Show the real passion. Don’t just say “I love finance because finance is interesting and can make a lot of money”. Add details and show you have done extra efforts or know more than average. A recruiter will easily tell if you are passionate or not, and they can lose interest in you quickly if you throw lame answers all the way.
Teamwork Culure in VP:
Students in Hong Kong tend to compete rather than cooperate in schools because they are required to do the same tasks and see who can do better than others. It’s different in the work place because the different functions each position carries, and people need to learn how to rely on and share with others. It’s every interesting that each VP employee need to sign a promise to comply with the sharing values of VP, and that piece of agreement will be placed in a frame.
Big Data/Fintech in Equity Research:
The Fintech is a big topic and can applied to varied fields of fund industries. Regarding big data and research, VP do buy big data from data providers, not those like Bloomberg, but those like UnionPay, which can provide day-to-day credit card transaction data and reveal sales of luxury watch or latest iPhone. He do expect young people to learn coding, not only as a skill, but also a way to think and solve problems.
Talking about whether machine will replace human to be next generation of asset managers, he mentioned that a lot of talents are working very hard to build such programs in China and US, and will earn a lot once they succeed. However, one thing Mr.Lai loves investment specifically is the different ways people interpret the same data. In my opinion, that variance applies to both ages when we depend on financial statements and big data. And that’s why machines and algorithm can’t replace true talents, at least in the short term.
Value Investing in Mainland China?:
Is it harder to value invest in China? Mr. Lai’s answer was Yes and No. Value investing requires true financial data, and we have to admit some mainland China companies should improve on transparency. However, since it’s harder for everyone to get the truth, research becomes more valuable, and those who can reach the truth will be the winners and gain advantages. In my word: heroes emerge in troubled times.
Renminbi Internationalization and Capital Account Opening: Can AM industry in Hong Kong Benefits?
The renminbi internationalization and other reforms are going in a very slow pace, and Mr.Lai thinks it’s a good pace because a sudden opening up will create troubles and chaos. The effects ae very complicated. No one really know how long will it take before the fully opening up.
He do admit investors in both mainland China and overseas may bypass Hong Kong if a full opening up is done. While he believes the reputation and track record will still make VP standing out in that stage. You don’t put money in a bank set up yesterday. It’s possible for old brands to be acquired by the new money, though.
That’s all I can remember. Sorry or the rough writing style. I still have exams to prepare. Wish my notes can help.