What are the 3 qualities of an award-winning EM/Asian equities team?

UBS-AM was awarded two ‘best equity house’ awards in Singapore. Geoffrey Wong, Head of EM and APAC equities say that he wants team members to have three qualities, one of which is diversity of thought.

03 May 2021

Key highlights

  • Two ‘Best Equity House’ awards bestowed to UBS Asset Management in Singapore by Morningstar and Fund Selector Asia
  • Geoffrey Wong, Head of EM and APAC equities say the three qualities his team members should have are 1) learn continuously; 2) have diversity of thought and 3) be collaborative and yet challenge conventional wisdom

UBS Asset Management (UBS-AM) was awarded two “Best Equity House” awards by Morningstar and Fund Selector Asia recently.

We caught up with Geoffrey Wong, Head of Emerging Markets and Asia Pacific Equities to understand how he has guided the team and qualities of a good investor.

The one key point that Geoffrey often makes to his team is that the market is a great teacher but a very tough one – “it’s complex and constantly evolving”. So to be good investors “we need to know how to think clearly, but also learn to adapt quickly.”

Having a complex mindset helps. A complex mindset, Geoffrey explains means the ability to connect the dots between seemingly different topics. For example, when an analyst looks at the Asian semiconductor industry, he needs to also think about the ramifications across many other industries globally. There is also politics and regulation to keep track of as well as developments in science and technology.

Geoffrey reveals that that is why he builds a team with 3 core characteristics

1. Continuous learning

It is important to have team members that are keen to be learning continuously and be able to adapt as the market is always evolving.

2. Diversity of thought

Diversity, Geoffrey tells us, is not just a nice to have term in mission statements. Having a team with diverse thoughts helps build a robust portfolio that UBS-AM can differentiate from their peers.

We need people who have a value approach, a growth approach, or any other approaches. This helps us as a team talk through the investment thesis from many angles and form our high conviction views.

These views give us the confidence to build concentrated portfolios, instead over diversified ones and over-time has proven to produce strong alpha - the two ‘Best Equity House’ awards are a strong testimony of this.

3. Collaboration and challenge

While Geoffrey likes his team to collaborate and exchange ideas within the team, he does not want team members to agree with each other just for the sake of it. ‘We shouldn’t agree with the consensus view just to be collaborate. We need to challenge each other’s ideas, our own ideas and conventional wisdom in the market. To combine collaboration and challenge is a tricky balance, which is something manageable through an experienced and stable team.”

Democracy of ideas important

For Geoffrey, it means having to manage the team in a way that allows for a “democracy of ideas.” He evaluate ideas based on quality and relevance, not by the seniority of the person.

Anybody can disagree with the ideas presented, but he or she must explain their reasoning with factual backing

Incorporating ESG factors helps in building best ideas portfolios for investors

Geoffrey also explains how looking at ESG factors have helped the EM and APAC equities team build best ideas portfolios for investors.

Best equities house awards

UBS Asset Management won two Best equities house awards in 2021 from Morningstar and Fund Selector Asia.

In 2020, it also picked up a Singapore Group Award Equity from Lipper Fund Awards.

About Geoffrey Wong

Geoffrey Wong is Head of Emerging Markets and Asia-Pacific Equities with overall responsibility for all Emerging Markets, Asian, Japanese and Australian equity teams, strategies and research. Geoffrey is also responsible for research, portfolio management and construction for Emerging Market Strategies.
He chairs the Emerging Markets Equity Strategy Committee and is based in Singapore.

Geoffrey joined UBS in 1997. His prior experience includes co-founding an Asian investment management firm, where he served as Director of Investment Management responsible for asset allocation and stock selection for global and regional institutional portfolios.

Geoffrey served on the board of directors of Singapore Exchange, the combined stock and futures exchange of Singapore between 2003 and 2006. He is a member of the Singapore Society of Financial Analysts and a Fellow of the Institute of Banking and Finance.

Head of Emerging Markets and Asia-Pacific Equities
Group Managing Director

Years of investment industry experience: 34
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), SM, SB, MBA

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