Occasionally when I’ve gone to meet people at other non-local firms, people have said that they’re amazed at how well-informed I seem to be on so many topics. I credit my avid reading of not just the FT, but the FT in particular, as part of that. I find it so relevant for the areas in which I operate.Deputy general manager, Orient Securities Investment Banking Co. Ltd.
An international perspective in a domestic market
Orient Securities Investment Banking Co. Ltd. (OSIB) is a financial holdings company based in Shanghai, with a reported RMB 800 million registered capital and more than 500 employees. Predominantly focusing on domestic investment banking efforts, OSIB assists businesses with equity and debt financing, M&A financial advisory, and structural financing. In addition to the focus on the domestic market, OSIB aims to keep attention on the international market.
“[OSIB] is in investment banking, and we’re deal driven, and transaction focused,” says Kenneth Koo, Deputy General Manager at OSIB. “It’s becoming more important for colleagues to think internationally. I have a group of English-speaking colleagues where we focus on most of the cross border work, but everyone should be adopting a global mindset.”
Mr. Koo’s job focus is on the international markets, ensuring that he is able to truly understand the global sphere from inside China.
“When one is in China, you always feel like you’re not quite following what’s going on in the rest of the world. When I moved [to China] more than seven years ago, I wanted to make sure that I kept up with developments, particularly but not exclusively in the financial markets. My perspective has long been, that not understanding geopolitics means that you can’t fully embrace what’s happening to financial markets and interpretations.”
It was with this thought that Mr. Koo proposed the initiative of an FT Group Subscription with OSIB, to bring the knowledge of the international markets into the company in the early 2010s.
Knowledge dispersion from the top down
Mr. Koo was born and raised in New York City, and has since worked in Hong Kong as well as China. He now lives and works in Shanghai, but regularly visits Western and Central Europe to conduct business, as well as Hong Kong.
“I’m part of the senior executive management team for [OSIB], so when we do our internal offsites, I’m one of the people who can bring an international perspective,” he says. “Most of my senior colleagues are truly local, having never worked abroad. I’m the only one with the international background and perspective. I have the opportunity to offer my international knowledge to the other 500, to advise what’s happening in the world, how it is affecting our business now, etc.”
But sourcing this information can be a challenge. By utilising the Financial Times, he is able to find out information swiftly, efficiently, and backing it with truth and status. In fact, Mr. Koo says: “with your China coverage, I often find sometimes that the first time I’m learning about events in China is from the Financial Times!”
Bringing global insights into the local market
“For financial markets, my view is that you need diversity of views and analysis,” Mr. Koo remarks. “Especially in the last few years in China, it means there is a greater need to consult various sources, including outside sources like the FT.”
Using the Financial Times’ global insights and information, he can easily disperse the necessary information to the relevant workforce: “If I have conversations with Chinese people, I can reflect on the coverage and tell people in appropriate ways, as in China one has to be careful with sensitive information. It gives me context, which I think is important, whether it’s a political sentiment, popular sentiment, any of them.”
“I look at this cross border familiarity that I have, where I could talk to the Chinese about what’s going on globally, for this company and for the industry, as well as the politics that’s going on in their home country.” Mr. Koo says. “I can then discuss with international clients, and tie and align it with what’s going on in China, and produce not only a script for discussion in meetings, but to help me develop an intuition that will help me link it to specific business, all from having such a broad perspective.”
Whether it’s talking about tensions, the populism in other Western countries, the wealth gap, all those kinds of social economic issues are relevant. I find that most of the locals don’t have that understanding. That’s a utility that the FT brings.Deputy general manager, Orient Securities Investment Banking Co. Ltd.
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