AMA: Investment Manager at Emerging Market

- 10 years of experience in finance
- 5+ years of experience in investment banking and private equity services
- non-target education for both undergraduate and graduate in US
- getting a job as an international student experience in US (i.e. CPT, OPT, H1B)
- various MO/BO experience at several bulge bracket firms in US (i.e. GS, CS, DB)
- Both IBD and ER experience at various boutique firms in US
- started my own investment firm covering an emerging market in Asia
- currently, working at a family office fund for a conglomerate in Asia

Comments (63)

Jan 9, 2015

If you were starting your career today, what type of role and in which industry would you want to be in?

Jan 9, 2015

would still go for that IBD > MBA > PE route. it is still the most risk adverse. and probably do this at my home market where i have the home field advantage.

Jan 9, 2015

would be happy to go through questions on:

- getting a job in IBD and ER as a non-target
- how to get a job as an international students in US
- what are the preparation needed for a non-native speaker to get a job in US
- how to set up for success in term of networking
- dealing with reverse culture shock when moving back to home country
- idea and thoughts on moving back to Asia
- experience in setting up your own firm from stretch
- how to deal with local business culture
- transition from manager level to executive level
- how to network to source your own deal
- development on soft skills
- what else you need to be doing outside of work to get ahead in your career

Jan 9, 2015

How were your undergrad credentials? More specifically your GPA, major, and experience. Sorry if I might be misinterpreting this, but did you start off your career in BO/MO then transition to IBD? How was that experience. Thanks in advance.

Jan 9, 2015

non-target undergraduate. GPA 3.2. in business. after undergraduate went to work for several bulge brackets for BO/MO. then went to non-target master program in business. GPA 3.1. cold called a lot to get several internships doing IBD/ER. while doing fund raising/corporate development for a startup, i used that experience to get a IBD/ER job.

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Jan 9, 2015

lack of good credentials - being non-target, low GPA, and international student status requiring sponsorship means that i just had to put in more resources to knock on more doors. i remembered cold-calling 1,000+ firms just to get a full time job in IBD/ER after graduation. it wasn't fun and i wished i had study harder - but this was also a life changing experience that made me who i am. i continue to grow my professional network and it has steadily grown to 4,000+ contacts at major cities across the globe.

Jan 9, 2015

Thanks for doing this AMA, it's always nice to see someone make it from the non-target background given how prestige-oriented finance can be. I was hoping you could elaborate on resources you used to build your storytelling skills? Books, type of practice, mindset while storytelling, etc.

Thanks.

Billion

Jan 9, 2015

I think just talking to people in general.
Make sure u have good mentors who are brutal with you.
Take courses on public speaking (NYSSA) and speech therapy (Pace University has a good one)

Jan 9, 2015

Thanks for doing this.

I will be starting a consulting gig (out of undergrad) next September, and know soft skills will be extremely important to be ahead of the pack. Can you please talk about how you developed these on the job? and what someone in my position can do in the next 8-9 months to prepare for this? Any books you'd recommend?

Best Response
Jan 9, 2015

get a mentor who can give you a tailored advice. don't get too eager to prove yourself. early in your career, it is more important to get the basic done - following orders. once you get the basic down, you can start thinking more how to leverage your position at the office for career advancement. net net, you really need to like people genuinely and also make people like you.

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Jan 9, 2015

x

Jan 9, 2015

books?
- never eat alone
- the defining decade
- the new tycoons
- young money
- the 50th rule
- the 48th law of power
- the mastery by robert greene
- emotional intelligence - daniel goleman
- the origins of politics
- the ascent of money
- why nations fails
- by all means necessary
- capital wars
- when china rules the world
- a unified theory of happiness
- the art of thinking clearly
- King of Capital

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Jan 9, 2015

i just heard an interview with the author of "48 laws of power", next up on my reading list, extremely intelligent/interesting guy

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Jan 9, 2015

Thank you for taking time out of your day. Could you give us a few examples of how you cultivated your image early in your career?

Jan 9, 2015

i have always been the most socially awkward and confused kid growing up. i didn't have everything figured out. however, my greatest strength has been grit. i never give up. i fail a lot. keep adjusting myself to make money. if i asked most of my mentors in the early days, they would have said that i have fire in my belly and determination in my eyes. i take initiatives and i like to win.

Jan 9, 2015

What type of BO/MO work did you do and how did you transition to FO?

Jan 9, 2015

did IBD internships while going to grad school. studied all the interview materials. network my way everywhere - bar, school, organizations, social club, on the street. applied for 1,000+ jobs in a year.

Jan 9, 2015

mostly things like accounting, risk management and trade settlements.

Jan 9, 2015

"experience in setting up your own firm from stretch"

Could you discuss this in more depth? This is the end goal for many aspiring analysts, but there are little details as to how some of the successful guys were able to build a firm. Also, what are some things you realized after creating your own firm that you wish you knew beforehand?

Thanks for the advice/information, it is appreciated!

Jan 9, 2015

there are a few things to think through that i wish i knew ahead of time:

- need to build a good pipeline of proprietary deals
- need to develop strong record with industry executives
- need to have a good marketing strategy to set up your firm
- need to build up a good ecosystem in respective financials centers like London, Singapore, New York, Hong Kong to channel investors to your own fund
- need to develop strong relationship with initial co-founders; convincing them to quit their high paying job to join you at a startup is very very hard - those relationship needs to be built way ahead of time
- deal with regulatory challenges to make sure that your rep offices have appropriate licenses
- getting your first initial rounds of committed capital
- setting up your own website and marketing plan
- putting together your own business plan and visiting all the investors (fund managers, family offices)
- learning how to spot people bull shitting you or scheming you (clients, investors, partners)
- running your own fund is not as fun as people think and if u just want to make money; you wont be able to put up with this much bull shit on a daily basis
- hiring the right people and preventing them from jumping ship -or at worst setting up their own shops to steal your clients and deals

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Jan 9, 2015

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Jan 9, 2015

Thanks for this post!

I'm looking to transition from sell side research to buyside and I don't fit the typical transition profile. I'm trying to figure out if there's anything that may make my non-target background stand out/how I can better network.

From your list, could you elaborate on:
- getting a job in IBD and ER as a non-target
- how to set up for success in term of networking
- what else you need to be doing outside of work to get ahead in your career

Jan 9, 2015

getting a job in IBD and ER as a non-target
- mostly networking and interview preparation (used a lot of WSO materials)

how to set up for success in term of networking
- learn how to talk to people everywhere and at every situation. learn how to read people and make them like you. quantity over quality. i basically started with 1,000+ people and narrow down to 20 core sponsors who would pitch me to their bosses and their friends. have regular parties, power lunch and weekend brunches with your core group. you really need a power base

what else you need to be doing outside of work to get ahead in your career
- personal grooming and dress professionally
- develop your own hobby and follow through
- have interesting story
- learn how to master story telling skill
- follow through with things
- practice public speaking

would be happy to add more if you have more questions.

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Jan 9, 2015

Appreciate your advice!

2 quick follow up qs:
1) how did you come up with the original 1000+ people (i.e. were they only in IBD or was it broad?)
2) of the 20 core sponsors - how many originated from cold calls and how long did it take for them to become your advocate?

I was also an int'l student and fortunately was able to work in the US after graduation. I recently moved back to Asia and the reverse culture shock has been nasty. How did you deal with it?

In one of your replies, you mentioned seeing your mentors face significant bamboo ceilings as a reason why you returned to Asia. Knowing what you know now, would you have done the same? Do you still see more opportunities/progression in Asia?

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Jan 9, 2015

Why did you move back to Asia? How is the IB/PE scene different in Asia?

What are the advantages of being in your home field? What are the difficulties (cultural, not legal) you faced when working in the US?

Jan 9, 2015

to be very blunt and upfront with u, there are a few reasons:
- my parents were at their retirement age and i want to spend more time with them
- i want to give back to my country by bringing in necessary capital and expertise
- i saw my mentors (asian male immigrants) facing significant bamboo ceilings at work
- (i.e. they were not getting promoted above VP level at PE funds)
- i am still under 30, when i decided to move back so want to take more risks while i am still young
- i come from a pretty solid background with political connection at my home country so it will be easier for me to build up my own

How is the IB/PE scene different in Asia?
- a lot more relationship base
- more wild - anything goes
- need to be more careful with dealing with corruptions, money laundering and so forth
- more aware of political changes

that's all in short, happy to answer more questions

Jan 9, 2015

Thank you for this AMA!

My question is, when you finish your undergraduate, what kind of jobs did you get in the BO/MO? Did you go through your uni's career center, did you apply through the companyes website?

I'm in the same boat, junior attending a non target but my GPA is a bit higher (3.9). I have some banking experience from working at a cresit union, but I'm afraid since i didn't go to a target school, I wont be able to break into the field

Again, thanks for the AMA!

Jan 9, 2015

i never used college uni center or company website. they were all referral from friends or from my network. i find that it makes things a lot harder for people to reject you when you know them personally.

happy to answer if you have more questions.

Jan 9, 2015

Thak you for this post
"what are the preparation needed for a non-native speaker to get a job in US"
Could you discuss this ? How you improve your english ?

Can you have a list of book and other materials that you have read for the network?

Jan 9, 2015

"what are the preparation needed for a non-native speaker to get a job in US"
- i took a speech therapy session to fix my accent
- i took several public speaking courses to learn how to do small talks and give speeches in front of a big crowd
- change your name in application (i.e. from Xing Chen to John Chen); this is legal as long as u fill in your real name during background checks and formal applications

Can you have a list of book and other materials that you have read for the network?
- never eat alone
- the defining decade
- the new tycoons
- young money
- the 50th rule
- the 48th law of power
- the mastery by robert greene
- emotional intelligence - daniel goleman
- the origins of politics
- the ascent of money
- why nations fails
- by all means necessary
- capital wars
- when china rules the world
- a unified theory of happiness
- the art of thinking clearly
- King of Capital

Jan 9, 2015

From this list of book, if you should only choose a book
what is the best for get an interview from cold email
which helps to develop the relationship and get the goal: the interview ?
Thanks you

Jan 9, 2015

As a foreign, do you think that the market has any prejudice against asians or latins?

Jan 9, 2015

yes, at least for Asians:
- funny sounding names
- think all Asians are either Chinese or Korean
- think that we lack social skills; i feel that Asians have to be overall aggressive to prove that we assertive

Jan 9, 2015

where are your favorite places to travel to in SE Asia?

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Jan 9, 2015

Myanmar - seems to be the hottest destination right now
Jay Z and Beyonce were spotted in Bagan, Myanmar
This would be my next vacation spot

Jan 10, 2015

wow looking at photos it looks absolutely incredible, good call

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Jan 9, 2015

What do you think is the biggest hurdle against international students in getting IBD and ER jobs in the US and how to address that?

Thanks for the AMA

Jan 9, 2015

H1B Visa
- Apply to only top programs (bulge bracket)
- Use up your CPT and OPT first with boutique firms to prove that you are worthy hire to convert your firm into sponsoring H1B for you
- Get married if u have a college sweet heart for temporary Green Card
- Apply for investment visa program for Green Card (half a million)
- Get a NGO job first - easier visa application > start a business on the side (to apply for business Visa - the threshold for initial investment is a lot smaller for business Visa)

Jan 10, 2015

Thanks for the advice. If it's not too much to ask I also wanted to follow up with some more questions:

- If I don't get into BB IBD right out of graduation (for Visa sponsorship), is a BB MO/BO job a good place to start?
- I'm having an informational interview with an alumnus next week near his office. Although his firm does not sponsor h1b, what could I do to maximize my chances of getting an internship/ referral?

I look forward to hearing from you

Jan 9, 2015

Thanks for doing this, great reading through some of the q&a's, and apologies if this has been covered, but as what else exactly do you need to be doing outside of work to get ahead in your career?
Thanks in advance

Strength & Honour
Lads pass exams

Jan 9, 2015

- personal grooming and dress professionally
- develop your own hobby and follow through
- have interesting story
- learn how to master story telling skill
- follow through with things
- practice public speaking

would be happy to add more if you have more questions.

Jan 10, 2015

Thanks for AMA! Question: how did you fund your undergrad and grad tuition + other costs associated? Was it personal savings or you took loans, got scholarships?

Jan 10, 2015

working at school, scholarship and also took a few years off between undergrad and grad to save up some money also worked during grad school years.

Jan 10, 2015

are the skillsets you obtained in the US firms applicable to your current position?

Jan 10, 2015

in principle, yes. in practice, no. i was spending more time dealing with adjusting my own local culture and rebuilding my entire network, and also learning how business is really done. this is very important as i take on more responsibilities on sourcing and originating deals.

and there are significant component of client services involved, attending social events, public speaking arrangements, courting investors, flying out overseas to attend investment conferences.

Jan 12, 2015

Hi FU Money,

What are your thoughts on moving from IBD > ER? Is this a common career path taken?

It seems like the ideal segue to be a fund/money manager.

Jan 24, 2015

First off, I just want to say thank you for doing this AMA: your post is a pot of gold.
Q: How would you say the country where you are at is different from the US in terms of how business is conducted and deals done? And about the starting from scratch part, would you outline the steps taken specifically to start your own gig? Usually these types of things happen based on prior experience but I would really like to know your take on this and may be if there are any sources that can be referred too.

Thanks again for doing this!

Death is certain; Life aint.

Feb 24, 2016

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