How would you describe yourself?
I do not give up easily, which has helped me become a forward-looking yet pragmatic problem-solver. I believe having a growth mindset is the way forward, especially in a world that is ever-changing.
Why did you pursue a career in finance?
I graduated with a degree in accountancy from Monash University, Australia, but wanted to do something less mundane. As I was curious about how entrepreneurs and business owners led their businesses to success, research into public-listed companies seemed a natural choice. Research would allow me to take a deep dive into various businesses and let me speak to entrepreneurs and their management teams to learn about their industries/businesses.
Thus, early in my career I tried various roles in the investment industry, starting as a research assistant and later becoming an analyst on the sell-side. I had a short stint as a financial analyst in corporate finance but eventually settled into a role as a fund manager in asset management. I find this the most rewarding, as I am able to apply what I learn about companies to developing investment insights that could help investors achieve their long-term financial goals.
Why did you enroll in the CFA® Program?
I think having professional certification is a must, especially in the fund management industry where the responsibility of managing the life savings of millions is huge and heavy.
The CFA Program lays the foundation to guide us through challenges we may face in our work. The knowledge, training, and continuous education helps us stay on course to achieve our investment objectives. The curriculum also emphasizes ethical judgment in order to make more informed decisions.
Of course, completing the CFA Program can be difficult when you have to juggle work and study. However, this gives candidates the chance to develop a disciplined approach to balancing work, study, and life, and to learn to strive through any challenges — at least, this was the case for me.
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Have you faced any ethical dilemmas in your career?
Not that I recall. I have been very fortunate to have worked in companies with very high ethical standards.
What is your work or life motto?
Strike a balance in everything you do. I love my work, but I also love my family and have many hobbies. When you have so many things that are dear to you, you will eventually find a way to give a balanced amount of attention to each.
Which book do you think every investment professional should read?
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I have long been fascinated by the extent of human emotions impacting investments decisions and whether controlling that will result in better outcomes. This book provides a good look at that.
What is the favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?
My favorite part of the job is research. I am intrigued by what is happening in various industries and companies. I look into their value chains, analyse how management runs companies during good and bad times, and collate this information to produce meaningful insights for investors.
One of my passions is education, so I try to improve financial literacy whenever opportunity arises. I believe this could help with my biggest job challenge: managing investors’ expectations on returns, especially during volatile periods. If we can help investors develop the right mindset about investing — that is, invest to achieve long-term financial goals — then we can stay focused on the investment objective, ignore short-term market noises, and find value at different stages of the market cycle.
Tell us your proudest moment to date.
Professionally, my proudest moments are when my team’s hard work is recognized by the industry and investors. Our team at Manulife won several accolades at The Edge Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards, including an overall best group award under the Malaysian Provident Fund category over three years in 2017.
You have been in the financial industry for many years. What is your advice for young professionals starting their career journeys? What skills or attributes would you like to see more of in millennials?
You need to have true passion in order to succeed in this industry. To maintain this passion (and to keep yourself sane), you need to find a balance between work and life. There will be times of challenge — many of them, so setting the right pace at work and having a disciplined approach can help you persevere. Pursuing the CFA Program helped me develop these traits, and I would strongly recommend the next generation of investment professionals do the same.
If you were not a fund manager, what would you like to be?
Probably an educator. I would like to nurture and motivate the next generation.
Disclaimer: The content was written in March 2019. Information, views, opinions, and recommendations expressed belong to the interviewees thereof. They do not necessarily reflect the views of CFA Society Malaysia. In no event shall CFA Society Malaysia be liable for any damages resulting from their opinions.