Asian hedge fund equity analyst to cap intro?

Hey guys, running into a bit of a dilemma here, could use some advice.

A little about my background. Chinese american, went to a semi-target, majored in asian studies with a focus on chinese politics, interned at a third party marketing firm in China and worked in consulting for about a year in shanghai before networking into a $3bn deep value fund analyzing asian equities. I've been here for about a year and it's been great but my boss is spinning off on his own and doesn't have the AUM to bring me with him (though this may change down the road). Current firm plans to close down the office; I could potentially get moved back to the US office (not a NYC office) but long-term I want to be in hong kong since that is where the hedge fund scene in asia is, better for networking, fun city, etc.

I'll get paid for the next two-three months while we transition, but am seriously considering just going for a cap intro role at a bulge bracket in HK because while I think research is fascinating I don't think I'll ever be THAT good at it and think that after a few years I'd get bored of it. I actually think fundraising is something I'm interested in long-term, given that I've had some experience providing marketing support, setting up meetings, researching asset allocation at endowments, pensions, etc. Most of all what I don't like with research is that I don't really deal with people on a day to day basis aside from the occasional call to the sell-side analyst and sometimes go an entire day barely speaking a word to my co-worker (I only have one coworker). I think I'd be happier in a relationship management role and ultimately think that this business is all about who you know and how you can raise money. I enjoy networking and talking to other people in the industry about their backgrounds, how they got to where they are, etc. and genuinely think that in a cap intro role I would enjoy helping connect fund managers with investors, going to HF conferences, etc. Long-term I could see myself moving back to a fund in a hedge fund marketing role where I would get paid a % of how much money I raise, but that's several years down the line. For the record, HF marketers at my firm make a very, very large percentage of the top line of my firm, and get paid an annuity year after year based on what they raise, so it can be VERY lucrative.

Another reason is that I'm a chinese-american and don't really consider myself that chinese; at my current role it's ok since we don't do much on the ground due diligence but other funds go a lot more deeper, do channel checks, etc. which would put me at a disadvantage against candidates who grew up in china if I so chose to look for another equity analyst job. Instead of fighting that and trying to make myself "more chinese" I think I'd prefer to leverage my western background and communication skills since in a cap intro role I would be mostly working with western LPs and hedge fund managers who mainly communicate in english. While yes there are more and more chinese investors developing most of them still don't really know what a hedge fund is, there are capital controls, etc. and most of the institutional money will still be largely US/Europe for at least the next ten years to come in my opinion.

HOWEVER, I just turned 24 and am worried that I'm not quite ready to turn my back on being an equity analyst since if I go into a cap intro role I probably won't have the future choice of switching back into equity analysis, unless I went to business school. Also, I'm not so sure if junior level cap intro roles get that much responsibility / client facing experience. It seems that it helps to have a little more experience and then move into cap intro / marketing later on in your career. Additionally, cap intro teams aren't really that big, I'm assuming in HK each team only has 1-2 junior guys but there probably is less competition for them.

Lastly, I may have a potential offer from an alum who has a small $40mn fund (also in HK) but thinks he's going to raise money soon. It'd be him, his partner, and me, and my role would be a hybrid role doing everything from setting up a new office to marketing support, back office stuff, and yes, research as well. Pay would be shit, I'm guessing $30-40k a year but could get bonus based on pnl / bottom line as I'd have the option to shift over to more research gradually as the fund builds AUM. For the record, he really thinks he's going to raise money soon as they're moving to a bigger office next month. I think this role could be interesting in that I would learn about the operations, back office stuff, marketing, etc. which would lead to a career as a CEO or COO of a hedge fund later on. I find that most hedge fund start-ups in HK tend to have two partners: a CIO and a CEO/COO who runs the business, the latter of which tends to come from a prime brokerage background.

So, here are my choices

1. Look for an equity analyst job in HK (I have about US$10k in the bank which would last me 3-4 months in HK unemployed)
2. Look for a cap intro / marketing role in HK (next priority would be fund of funds / endowment / pension as it would still allow me to build contacts in the industry
3. Stay with my current firm and get moved back to the US (but probably will lose the asian network)
4. Join a small, no-name hedge fund in HK and be a jack of all trades but make shit salary in the short-run with potential to make big bucks in 2-3 years

Thanks in advance for any advice / clarity

Comments (3)

Best Response
Jamoldo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

...So in other words it sounds like you have no idea what you want to do... And that's totally OK. I would definitely consider the research route for at least another year so that you can say you have real experience doing that before making the next move. Have you thought about sell side research or equity sales? They like people with buyside experience though its a tough market out there.

There are definitely cap intro and marketing roles available in HK. Especially the latter. Probably do a lot of pitch work, sending over data etc, filling out questionaires etc. You could look into third party marketers, like Park Hill. Not too sure about cap intro. At these things you do get to meet people though, within your organization and the big conferences they throw, so I would not worry too much about that.

Staying with the Firm is not a bad idea. The key is that you have to maintain the Asian network. Keep in touch with people you like from time to time. Text them. Skype them. If you are on vacay, go to Asia and stop through HK and arrange meetings (coffees, beers, meals, etc) to keep that network. Making the network here is not too hard since its a small world.

The fourth option has upside, but given how brutally hard the fundraising market is in HK unless you are a big name o a some big spinout the probabilities of the upside ain't high (from what I have seen in over 6 years here sitting in my seat as a consultant - we see a lot, its our job).

You're 24 so be open to taking a risk. I would say the Asian network can be built/rebuilt easily, so don't worry about that as much.

Good Luck

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
  • 3
highhater, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks, super helpful. From what I've seen even sell-side jobs don't open up as much, and they prefer to hire native chinese for research, not just for language skills but for corporate access and relationships as well. It'd probably be better for me to join the sell-side since I still haven't really been properly trained and lack a lot of the fundamental skills i.e. modeling.

My interview with the small fund is next week, will see how it goes. They just brought on a CFO with 20 years experience and a marketing guy in new york, so they seem pretty confident. The founder spun out of a pretty well known fund in HK and helped them raise $1 bn so it seems like I'd be able to learn from him on both the research and marketing side as well. We'll see.

  • 2
Jamoldo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
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