Word of caution from man on Asian mission
An interesting coincidence kicked off the career of James Sun, Charles Schwab Hong Kong managing director and a celebrated name in the brokerage universe.
Sun, then fresh out of grad school in the US, simply answered an ad for a job posted online. That saw him land his first job, which also required him to go online.
He joined as financial consultant in the Manhattan offices of Charles Schwab — an established market player in online investing.
But what has made him serve the brokerage firm ever since is the way corporate beliefs at Charles Schwab resonated with his own.
“As Chuck Schwab, chairman and founder of Charles Schwab, said, it’s not money you are managing. It is people’s money that you are managing,” noted Sun.
What lies behind a sum of money or an investment account is a person or a family that counts on you to build up a successful financial life for them, he added.
That requires wealth managers to take responsibility and get the whole picture of clients’ needs before helping them translate the investment plan into reality.
Sun has seen many young people open their accounts while still at university, some of whom turned out to be resounding successes in Silicon Valley years later.
Sun noted it is more than exciting to go along with clients to manage their wealth in their lifetime and watch them come up from obscurity and make their mark, rather than pop up before them when they are household names.
But such long-term commitment may not yield results without a comparatively low threshold. Charles Schwab targets clients with investable assets of more than $10,000, a benchmark that makes a sophisticated investment solution more accessible to a wider audience on a global scale.
Likewise, after the past economic boom on the mainland, we have good reason to expect this huge groundswell of millennial investors — who are going online to invest but may not be cashflush enough to avail of sophisticated money management for the moment — to become most sought-after clients just a few years later, observed Sun.
That defines the ambition of the world-leading brokerage firm — to aim for broader coverage of customers with diverse needs.
Some self-directed clients who come up to Charles Schwab with their know-how ask for a platform to carry out their grand plans, whereas other clients arrive with an idea of what they want but still hope financial consultants can offer some guidance and validation, and hold their hands in making investment decisions, Sun said.
And there are others, clients who gave Charles Schwab a free hand in managing their wealth.
Together, they represent the diversified nature of Charles Schwab’s huge client base, which demands a mountain of tailormade solutions.
As an ardent golfer, Sun finds his beloved game and the business of investing have much in common.“Both are emotional games, requiring a good command of emotion management, and both call for long-term commitment, without any short-cuts to take advantage of,” observed Sun. “And you have to calculate risk and be responsible for your decisions no matter whether it is playing golf or making an investment.”
He also views investing as a combination of art and science.
“Investing presents itself as an art because we human beings are swayed by personal emotions. Market fluctuations always make us sway between greed and fear,” said Sun. “It is a science because our decisions come from our sophisticated risk calculation and thorough understanding of the fundamentals of companies, industries and asset classes.
“Still, the human elements and our psychology, which play a pivotal role in investing, should never be neglected,” Sun advised.
The recent bull run in the Hong Kong stock market has seen individual investors flock to open accounts. However, for responsible investors, the long-term commitment to a globally diversified portfolio should always count above the pursuit of fleeting opportunities amid fluctuating market prices, cautioned Sun.