‘The social responsibility of enterprise is critical’
chairman and chief executive officer at Bonds Group of Companies
Anson Chan Yiu-cheung, chairman and chief executive officer at Bonds Group of Companies, may have chosen the path of academia to become a university professor had he not taken over the family business nearly a decade ago.
Chan was born into a family of educators. His father Seaker Chan Shu-kui and mother Anita Chan Lai-ling were both accomplished in business, as well as being educators and philanthropists.
“If it wasn’t for the family business, my dream job was to be a university professor following my father who had dedicated his life to education,” Chan says.
His parents met at Xiangjiang Middle School (now known as the Chan Shu Kui Memorial School) where they both taught. Chan’s father soon committed himself to building schools, social welfare and business. He founded institutions including Xiangjiang School, Xiangjiang Chinese and English Secondary School, Kowloon Renbo English School, Madam Chan Wai Chow Memorial School and the Chan Wai Chow Memorial Secondary School. He assumed positions of school head and supervisor at these schools.
Outside of education, Chan’s father had operated a tung oil business in Hong Kong after arriving from Guangdong province in the late 1940s, with his father Chan Wai-chow, who was the former salt commissioner of Guangdong and Guangxi. This venture steadily grew into property, film and equities, with Chan’s mother helping to develop both the family business and education institutions. She also took on the task of raising her four children by herself after her husband passed away 14 years after they married.
Chan, the eldest son of the family, was just around ten years old when his father died. He fondly recalls this mother being a great woman, who was hard-working and as strict as his father.
“I am grateful that mother has been such a striking influence in his work and life.”
Before joining the family business, Chan and his brothers and sisters were sent abroad to study. After graduation, Chan joined auditing firm Ernst & Young from 1990 to 1996, before becoming a private equity fund manager at AIG Investment Corporation from 1998 to 2000, when he was responsible for developing new investment opportunities and business relationships in China. He then moved to Japanese investment bank Nomura International as the associate director of its proprietary investment group from 2000 to 2004.
But after his mother passed away in 2007, Chan took over the family business as the managing director of Bonds Group of Companies.
Taking over the group has differed greatly from his previous roles, Chan says.
“It’s quite different when managing family business. As a professional in large financial institutions, you just need to focus on certain parts. When managing a family business, you have to cover multiple industries and find the right qualified personnel to fill these positions.”
In terms of how to run a business, Chan upholds those who are hard-working and diligent. The current business environment is complex and competitive, so people have to concentrate and work hard in order to achieve their targets.
Chan is a firm believer in the social responsibility of enterprise, which he says is crucial. In the past 18 years, he has been actively participating in various civic and charitable organizations, and currently serves on the boards of the Community Chest of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Fringe Club and was also recently appointed a council member of the Better Hong Kong Foundation.
In memory of his late parents, Chan’s large donation to Shanghai’s Fudan University led to the establishment of the Dr Seaker Chan Center for Comparative Political Development Studies in 2012, where his late father was a former professor of social science. He also made donation to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to name a teaching building as the Anita Chan Lai Ling Building.
Chan says he plans to make another donation to a university in Hong Kong that will fund a research center under his father’s name.
Anson Chan Yiu-cheung, Rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, Hong Kong-based property investment firm Bonds Group of Companies is inching toward greater global exposure by diversifying its operations, according to its CEO and chairman Anson Chan Yiu-cheung.