Living in Asia


I’m considering working over in Asia. Was curious where are the best places to live and what was your experience like their. Day to day what are the hours some time things to do, and what are somethings to know about the culture and people over there. From Hong Kong, Singapore and anywhere else that you stayed. Also what was your career progression like over there from the banks to hedge funds. What were your comps like? Anything will help.

Comments (8)

Dec 2, 2019 - 5:52pm

Agree but Shanghai is less accessible than HK or Singapore due to stricter language requirements. Native bilingual is a must especially for investment front office roles, even more so for FO banking. Hong Kong is like this as well unless the fund has a global or pan-Asia mandate.

On interviewing with HFs, I’ve been passed over in HK due to not being a “native” Mandarin speaker, directly from the words of the headhunter, and I speak near perfect mandarin while lacking in writing skills. I’d imagine it’s even more so the case in Shanghai. Unless it’s a more senior sector specialist role that can not be filled from the pool of mainly generalists with pure finance/Econ backgrounds, natives with a western masters degree will have the advantage.

Though, Client facing roles are more flexible as more international money seek for active management in the slowly opening up of China’s onshore, RMB denominated A-shares. No specification on what finance role was made in original post so I decided to make a comment on this as well.

Lifestyle-wise, Shanghai is a better city to live in in comparison to Singapore and HK in my opinion, just given it’s sheer size and accessibility to other parts of China. The downsides are the the great firewall of China and stricter language requirements. Hard to make the comparison to Singapore as I’m less familiar with the area having not lived their previously.

Dec 3, 2019 - 2:31pm

I read an article and it seemed like asia was a place to grow as companies specifically HFs are expanding resources over there. I've also read BB banks were one time expanding as it was a place to go to expand your career and have quicker growth, did it ever feel like that to you? The HF that you were denied at was it a local shop or one of the big shops like P72 or anyone else of that size?

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Dec 3, 2019 - 8:37pm

Yes, the overall hedge fund industry is relatively early-mid cycle in Asia compared to US/EU, also less passive ETF money as well. Two factors for more alpha extraction in my view. AUM tends to run lower for an Asian HF due to liquidity restraints as well. 500mn USD is a fairly large book for a single region.

Platforms with HK presence and language requirements will depend on the exact PMs strategy. If the team runs a pan Asia equity long short then there is less emphasis on language, but remember any non-English language fluency is a plus because almost everyone who applies will have it.

For the fund I was passed over on, the mandate strangely was global but the founder, who had extensive western hedge fund experience, still demanded native Chinese fluency and the main day to day language was more mandarin then English. I imagine that the majority of the book was still China-centric despite the global mandate. Think of it from the point of view of seeders and investors. Most are looking for regional exposure and alpha. Global mandates are more true for macro and industry specific strategies.

It’s hard to differentiate between local and non-local hfs without further clarification. Do we look at place of origination or investor base or investment strategy or main language used in day to day? For me, I look at investor base (background of HNW and/or US/Eu institutional allocators) and investment strategy with US/EU pedigree). Most of the funds that are popping up and have done well have been non-US funds in terms of origination but with Us/EU institutional funding and US/EU pedigrees. Local - local funds (local investors, local pedigree, non- US/EU training), where the main language spoken is non-English, I haven’t considered because of bad fit. These funds will definitely screen for language proficiency first.

Look around and see what funds style fits your experience and skillset. In general, as long as this career is what you really want, then I’m sure there is a fund out there for you. There are a few threads on Asian hedge funds on WSO or a simple search on google will get you started.

Dec 16, 2019 - 8:13am

HK - equities/credit hub, north-Asia focussed, Peter Pan syndrome and never sleeps. The intensity can sorta drag after a few years when you realise you’ve turned into a snobby alcoholic.

Singapore - macro hub, south east Asia focussed, more of a local town sorta vibe. Everything is immensely convenient but more like a shopping centre than a city.

You’ll make money both places, probably spend more on Hong Kong as it’s a flashier city - singles paradise. You would raise a family in Singapore.

In terms of upside, either make for a good place, hedge funds I’ve found in Hong Kong are more like family offices and punt on random stuff. Singapore guys are more institutional.

Bottom line - better stories in Hong Kong, better lifestyle in Singapore.

YMMV, just my own observations.

Dec 19, 2019 - 11:16am
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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