Monthly Archives: February 2021

News: Kristin Westlake joins Financy’s fight for economic equality

Kristin Westlake

Kristin Westlake

Kristin Westlake, formerly of BT Financial Group and Quantopian and currently Principal of The Continuum Partners in Sydney, has been appointed a Non-Executive Director of Financy. Financy is dedicated to improving the financial progress of women and seeing Australia become a leader in economic equality.

News: James Cheo appointed CIO, SEA at HSBC

James Cheo

James Cheo

James Cheo has been appointed HSBC’s Chief Investment Officer, Southeast Asia, Private Banking and Wealth Management. Most recently, James was the firm’s Chief Market Strategist in Singapore. Earlier, he has worked at the Bank of Singapore, Barclays, Kazim Asset Management, Monetary Authority of Singapore and Bank of International Settlements.

The future of education in the world of finance with Inflection Point Intelligence’s Anna Stephenson

Anna Stephenson

Anna Stephenson

Hong Kong-headquartered Inflection Point Intelligence (IPI) has gained a reputation as a quality centre of excellence for financial education with the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program as its flagship course. HFC’s Stefan Nilsson checks in with IPI’s Founding Partner Anna Stephenson to find out more about the future of education in the world of finance. Together with Steve Bernstein, Anna launched the first hedge fund course in Hong Kong in 2015.

 

Having initially run IPI’s Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program in financial centres such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, London and New York, you have now taken the program online. Tell us about this on-demand offering!

We ran the in-person Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program (the HEHFP) 14 times in different financial centres around the world, bringing together local students and instructors from the industry in the classroom, and of course, at our famous networking cocktails. But it became clear that this format was quite limiting – the students needed to be in the physical location at the same time as the tutors for each of the 16 modules. That was a big ask from people who were studying and holding down full-time jobs at the same time. Also, people living in other countries were unable to attend the course. And delivering the course in person brought extra costs and was expensive. In the second half of 2019, we started the intensive effort to pivot the program to online, in order to make it as flexible as possible for people to take it. We had instructors deliver their lectures whilst being videoed, and now those lectures are available on-demand, from anywhere in the world, in bite-sized pieces – so students can attend the course however suits them best. Students have taken the program from Tokyo to LA, from Portugal to Iceland! And we’ve been able to lower the cost. We’ve achieved that goal of making it accessible to all who want to learn. Of course, it was sheer luck that we had just gone online when COVID-19 hit the world! Once we realised that every financial centre was going to experience some kind of lockdown, we also moved the IPI Network online. We hold bi-weekly webinars, currently focused mostly on the hedge fund industry, with industry speakers who address subjects that we don’t cover in the HEHFP core curriculum, and other topical items. And we’ve held a popular “speed-networking” event where students, alumni and teachers could introduce themselves to the others. More of that to come!

 

With a growing network of Henley hedge fund program alumni which has been built up over the past five years or so, you have now launched the IPI Career Network. What’s the plan with this initiative?

One of the most satisfying things about delivering the HEHFP was watching the network grow, and the connections being forged between the people involved – participants, instructors, guest speakers, industry members who came to cocktails. Now that the world finds itself more comfortable with online networking due to the pandemic, we want to extend that web of connections. We believe that the education industry is ripe for disruption – you might say that the pandemic has brought it to an inflection point… The future of education will not only be online but will also be career-focused – already we can see a movement away from the classic multi-year university education and towards shorter, career-focused courses. We have created the IPI Career Network – this annual subscription offers education and career-related services. Members can join the IPI bi-weekly webinars and access the back-catalogue of videos. They have access to a jobs board and the directory of members, and we will be introducing mentoring services shortly. Members are entitled to 15% off the cost of our courses, and other benefits. And of course, once we can get together in public again, the members will be invited to our networking cocktails around the world too.

 

Recently you brought in industry heavyweight Paul Smith to the IPI team. You have also made several business-development hires in Hong Kong. What’s behind these additions to the team?

The pivot to online is really driving the changes in our company. Now that we are not tied to specific course locations and times, we’ve been able to embrace a bigger vision of our goals. We aim to deliver a suite of courses similar to the HEHFP, based on the proof-of-concept of the online version. Those courses will include Private Equity and Family Office programs, both of which we’ve been asked for many times over the past few years. Online delivery also means that we can easily customise programs for corporate clients. We currently have a corporate cohort taking 10 selected modules chosen by their company and with company seniors taking part as faculty. We’re very excited by that development and hope to see many other corporate customers choosing to customise a program tailored for their own staff’s needs. We’re super excited to have Paul involved and to welcome Ambrose Wan and Peony Mu as we aim to extend the reach of the programs to other countries and financial sectors.

 

The family office industry is growing fast, not least here in Asia. What can you tell us about IPI’s plans for family office education?

The Family Office Program (FOP) is currently under development. As with the HEHFP, the FOP will feature online lectures by experienced industry professionals, along with curated reading and regular live webinars. It’s aimed at those people who might be thinking of setting up a family office, and also at FO service providers, such as private bankers, and professionals who want to get into the FO industry. We have the 12-module syllabus agreed and have already filmed the first module. Our plan is to start rolling out individual modules starting in Q2 and have the complete program available by the end of the summer. We’re very pleased to be extending the reach of the IPI Career Network into the family office sector and look forward to creating a new segment of our community.

 

The IPI team has a senior management team with extensive alternative investment industry experience. Is it this that sets IPI apart from other more academic educational providers?

We think that the uniqueness of our offering lies in the practical nature of the teaching, the focus on management rather than technical aspects of the subject matter, and the extensive and active network that we have created. As Steve Bernstein likes to say: “Once you’ve finished the course, that’s just the beginning”. At that point, our alumni are just starting to explore the benefits of the knowledge and connections that they’ve gained joining a growing community of practitioners in the industry worldwide.

 

www.ipi-edu.com

News: Japan’s FSA reports on new initiatives

Japan’s Financial Services Agency has outlined some of the new initiatives being introduced this year in a document titled “International Financial Hub Initiatives”. Changes include preferential treatment for corporate, inheritance and income tax, simplified market entry procedures (including information and documentation in English), relaxed immigration and employment requirements, and so on. Several of the initiatives are due to come into effect in April.

News: Ferguson Hyams hires Zhongze Li

Ferguson Hyams Investment Management in Brisbane has hired Zhongze Li for an IR role.

News: Dickson Man to Eurizon

Dickson Man in Hong Kong has joined Eurizon, the asset management company of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, as its Head of Asia Distribution. He was most recently a Relationship Manager at T. Rowe Price and has earlier worked at Investec and BlackRock.

News: New APAC CEO for Aberdeen Standard

Rene Buehlmann

Rene Buehlmann

Rene Buehlmann, who has spent the bulk of his career at UBS, has been appointed as Asia-Pacific CEO of Aberdeen Standard. His predecessor Hugh Young has become Chairman.

News: Two Sigma Asia CEO joins Our Hong Kong Foundation

Kenny Lam

Kenny Lam

Kenny Lam, Two Sigma’s Asia CEO, has been appointed Advisor to Our Hong Kong Foundation. OHKF is a Hong Kong non-profit organisation with a mission to promote the long-term and overall interests of Hong Kong through public policy research, analysis and recommendation. Pooling together local, mainland and international talent, the Foundation studies Hong Kong’s development needs, offering multidisciplinary public policy recommendations and solutions to foster social cohesion, economic prosperity and sustainable development.

Interview: Tokihiko Shimizu on the future of Japan’s financial industry

Tokihiko Shimizu

Tokihiko Shimizu

As Tokyo is making moves to strengthen its position as a financial centre, HFC’s Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Tokihiko Shimizu, the former CEO of Japan Post Investment Corporation and previously Director-General of Research at the Government Pension Investment Fund.

 

After having worked for big Japanese institutions such as GPIF, Japan Post and PFA, you have this year embarked on a different journey with several different advisory roles including Tokyo University of Science Investment Management’s endowment and Montana Capital Partners. Is it a very different life working for yourself than what you did earlier in your career?

As you mentioned, I have worked for big institutional investors in Japan for over a decade. I was in charge of managing multiple types of assets including traditional and alternative assets. As for alternative assets, I have covered hedge funds, real assets and private equity. Some of my remarkable achievements at GPIF were to rebalance the asset allocation and, in 2014, implement alternative investments for the first time. Through these experiences, my interest has significantly changed to direct investments in private markets, venture investments and technology investments. I have decided to focus on these fields for my continued career. These types of investment measures are still under development in Japan. The Japanese financial market has several missing pieces compared to other advanced countries like the US. I can see huge opportunities here. Therefore, I believe investors will be able to enjoy higher returns through these investments if we can make things work better by establishing a more active and deeper financial market as a whole. This idea came up through my experiences at GPIF when I implemented an active public Japanese equity strategy by adopting the JPX 400 index as a benchmark and hired engagement type of active managers like the Taiyo fund. My intention was to activate the public equity space. I named this an ”activation strategy”, rather than active, which tried to get returns not only from this single measure directly, but also from a passive portion through improving market beta by these measures. I have also seen secondary markets in private investments as another missing piece here. Montana Capital Partners is a solution-oriented, high-skilled secondary strategies manager with a differentiated niche strategy in small to mid-size complex transactions. Therefore, I would like to provide such solutions both to investors and players. As for Tokyo University of Science Investment Management, it plays an important role as a bridge between academia and business in terms of technology. I believe some of the most important areas in financial markets in Japan should be growth equity in private markets and deep technology investment. I am now brainstorming what the best investment strategies are in these areas.

 

During your career, you have lectured at several universities. Why do you teach and what about it do you enjoy the most?

I have lectured at three universities; Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University, Visiting Professor, Management of Technology at Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Visiting Professor, Research Institute for Science and Technology at Tokyo University of Science. I was an expert in mathematical statistics and actuarial science at Ministry of Health and Welfare. Therefore, it was natural for me to share my knowledge with students at universities. For me, every single occasion teaching at universities was exciting and impressive. I have learnt many things from the younger generation who has new ideas and concerns. Through my teaching experience, I have learnt for many years that in Japan, there exists a gap, or a divide, between liberal arts and science in terms of society of business and working careers. For example, there are not so many CEOs who have a background in science. I think that economic stagnation in Japan partly comes from these gaps. Personally, I had tried to integrate the two sides and narrow the gaps via these kind of activities.

 

Both the Tokyo and national governments are making noises about improving Japan and Tokyo for financial firms. What, in your opinion, can Japan realistically do to make things better for asset managers, fintech firms, banks and others in our industry?

There are a number of barriers for foreign asset managers to enter the Japanese market, such as high income tax as well as language and visa issues. The Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have been working on improving the whole system. For example, the Japanese government usually charges individuals up to 50% income tax. However, they have decided to provide special tax schemes for hedge fund and PE managers. Their income from performance fees and carried interest will only be charged 20% tax. Having said that, I believe the Japanese financial market still needs to be more efficient. The Japanese financial market has been heavily debt-weighted compared to the US and other advanced markets which are well balanced between equity and debt. These issues have caused the low economic growth and less attractive financial market. Therefore, the Japanese financial market has to shift to a more equity-oriented money flow. I trust this is an essential step to create an advanced and attractive financial industry in Japan.

 

You have a lot of experience in private equity and other private markets. When it comes to alternative investments and Japanese investors, do you think we will see more allocations to private markets or will we see a comeback on the public side with hedge fund strategies and such?

I believe that the public markets and the private markets won’t conflict each other. These two spaces will complement each other to improve market efficiency as a whole. IPOs and delistings complement each other and this is the same with hedge fund investments and private investments in the long term. Recently, well-known hedge fund gatekeepers such as GCM and Aksia have entered te private equity space. Some hedge fund managers and private equity managers have been integrated into the same platform like BX and KKR, especially in the debt-related strategy area.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 51: Terry Mahony

Terry Mahony

Terry Mahony

HFC boss Stefan Nilsson caught up with seasoned asset management veteran Terry Mahony in Kuala Lumpur. Terry, currently Deputy Chairman of VinaCapital, has had a long and distinguished career, including serving as CIO of Latin America at Barings Asset Management and CIO of Emerging Markets at TCW. Here he talks about tea, the joy of life, Mozart and much more.

 

From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?

Newspapers via email and traditional hard copy! Brokers reports and email flashes, news services, magazines. There is a plethora of sources of information and it is important to distinguish between “need to know and nice to know” information.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Read books, literature and topics. Cultural trips, when one can travel again.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Hilary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light”.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Mozart concertos.

 

What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?

English breakfast tea and chamomile tea.

 

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve made?

Not buying Amazon.

 

Have you ever had a great mentor and what did you learn?

To be honest and fair.

 

What gives you energy?

The joy of life.

 

How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?

Keeping physically fit and mentally alert.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Oribe, a Japanese restaurant in KL.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Louvre in Paris.

 

You are an international man who have worked and lived across the world. You are now in Kuala Lumpur. What brought you there?

It is our second home and as result of Covid was here when lockdowns began.

 

Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?

Not really and find it the blight of our times.

 

Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?

Not really and, if I did, would I give my secret away?

 

What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?

Nothing worth mentioning.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Not really.

 

What’s the coolest, most awesome thing you keep in your office?

My collection of Ganeshes.

 

What makes you happy?

Having a wonderful wife and good friends.