WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CITIC CAPITAL?
Before CITIC, I was working in Singapore for GIC. I was planning to move back to Hong Kong, and one of my business associates knew that CITIC Capital was looking for a CFO. He thought I probably had the perfect background since I know private equity from both LP and direct investor perspectives, and I'm a qualified accountant. I wasn't sure about this opportunity initially. But after meeting with the management, who are now my fellow partners, I was very impressed by the team here and the vision they have in building CITIC Capital into a leading private equity and alternative investment manager in China. I found it a great opportunity to take on a senior management role at a fast growing business like CITIC Capital.
WHAT SURPRISEd YOU ABOUT CITIC CAPITAL?
What has surprised me is the pace of expansion and growth CITIC Capital has been experiencing to date. In four years, the firm has built from scratch a private equity business that manages multiple funds investing in China's growth. Within the same timeframe, the firm has also grown into other asset classes such as hedge funds and real estate. I would attribute a large part of the growth to the high caliber of my colleagues here.
WHAT HAS THAT GROWTH MEANT FOR YOU AS THE CFO?
At the operational level, we need to provide a solid business infrastructure to support rapid growth. From the beginning we built the entire fund administration infrastructure in-house so we can have better control and be more responsive to internal needs as well as investor requests. And it is a scalable platform. As our business grows, a proper investment process just becomes more and more important. My job is not only to ensure such investment process is in place, but also to communicate it through within the firm so that there is a mindset to comply. At the strategic level, as part of the management, I need to spend time in thinking about the big picture and where the firm should be heading. The challenge is we are often too occupied by the issues and tasks on hand that inevitably multiply with our increasing number of projects.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEAM.
I run a team that covers most of the support functions, including IT and HR. The finance team that covers accounting, tax and fund administration alone has about 12 people, excluding myself. More than half are qualified accountants, with the rest being junior accountants and fund administrators. We have four people fully dedicated to the private equity business.
WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AT THE FIRM?
Given the set up of CITIC Capital, I'm responsible for the fund administration function for each of our fund businesses. For private equity, our largest business, I'm also involved in the fundraising process, from preparing fundraising materials and structuring and setting up the fund to negotiating fund terms with investors. I work pretty closely with the investment team in portfolio valuation and LP reporting. Because I was an LP before, I know what the LPs expect from us. In terms of involvement in the investment process, I sit in internal weekly investment meetings and I participate in quarterly portfolio reviews. Although I'm not a formal member, I attend all the investment committee meetings and participate in the discussions. Given that CITIC Capital commits significant capital to, and sometimes warehouses investments for its funds, that makes risk and capital management an important function for which I'm also responsible. We have two listed parent companies ? CITIC Pacific and CITIC International Financial Holdings ? so another part of my responsibility is to take care of the financial reporting to our board and the shareholders.
WHAT WAS COMING BACk TO HONG kONG LIkE FOR YOU?
The pace of work here, compared to Singapore, is definitely faster. People in Hong Kong also seem to be more used to long working hours. I try not to stay in the office too late; thanks to the internet, I can carry on working from home if necessary. I have a young family and I try to squeeze more time to attend to my daughter, who's almost four. Coming back to Hong Kong is great. I can see my other family members more often. As Hong Kong is part of China, I'm now closer to where action is.