BAM’s Employee Spotlight is a Q&A series with employees across roles, ranks and global regions at our firm.
This interview features Andrew Fong, who joined BAM as President of Asia in January. Andrew is based in Hong Kong, working alongside BAM’s Head of Asia to manage our firm’s 70+ employees across BAM’s Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan offices. Growing BAM’s overall Asia business in equities and macro, including the firm’s onshore China operations, will be a key part of Andrew’s role.
Q: Thanks for chatting with us, Andrew. First, why did you decide to join BAM?
A: BAM's ambition is to grow and expand its presence in Asia. After 26 years in the business, I was excited about the opportunity to use my experience and expertise to help the firm scale into a leading hedge fund in the region.
The timing felt right. Asian economies are changing, with China's opening as the catalyst. Asset management and finance will be in a massive growth phase for the next 10 years.
And the culture of the firm was a big selling point for me. The teams are world-class, and the people are good at what they do, but there’s also a strong sense of camaraderie and a collaborative culture. People work as a team.
Q: What is your plan to grow BAM’s presence in Asia?
A: We have a solid foundation in Asia on which to grow. We launched our first Asian office in Hong Kong in 2008, followed by Singapore in 2017 and Tokyo in 2019. My focus will be on internally consolidating and further building out our infrastructure and execution capabilities and externally enhancing our relationships and increasing our profile in the region.
For us to excel in Asia, we must become agile and self-sufficient. There's a 14-hour time difference between Hong Kong and Chicago, so we need to be a central hub of the firm in our own right. And, of course, we need a leading team. I want talented individuals in Asia seeking to advance their careers to look to us as their fund of choice.
Q: What is the talent landscape in Asia? How will you approach recruitment?
A: The talent landscape is more challenging in Asia than in the U.S. or Europe. There is intense competition for a smaller pool of qualified candidates.
I see potential in building talent from the bottom up. If we create a strong platform, we will be able to attract great candidates early in their careers – even at the internship level – that we can train, develop and promote. BAM’s Anthem program for portfolio managers will be an asset for us in the region.
Q: What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities for BAM in Asia?
A: Many people think of Asia as a unified entity, similar to the U.S. or Europe. The U.S. is one country; a massive market, but one country. Europe, barring Brexit, has had one market and system, the E.U., for a long time.
But Asia is different. You have China, Japan, Korea, India, Singapore – all of these are relevant markets, whose challenges are very different: different languages, different sets of rules, different customs. Local knowledge is critical.
On the flip side, the investment opportunities are many. Japan’s economy was in recession for 20 years, and now we’re seeing strong signs of recovery and growth. China should also be a great opportunity over the next three to five years. The economy has started to rebound from Covid-19. If it executes on its five-year economic plan, there is a potential China's economy could surpass that of the U.S. in coming years.
Q: What regional or global macro trends are you watching closely?
A: Covid is a critical one – and more generally the shift to remote work and an eventual return to office. We’re also watching the political landscape closely. Given that we are a U.S. firm seeking to build in China, U.S.-Chinese relations are very important to us, as is China's policy towards foreign firms in general. And of course, China as a whole. The country is opening up, and it will undoubtedly affect the broader region.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hong Kong?
A: One thing is definitely the food. Hong Kong is a very multicultural region, and you can enjoy a wide variety of international cuisine.
By the same token, while it’s a very global city, I call it the best of East meets West. In Hong Kong, you can be an expat who has lived here for 30 years without speaking a word of Chinese, and you won't have a problem.