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What's driving the emerging markets cycle?

"And the thing that drives this cycle is investment … we are only in the 2nd year of the 5 year cycle so it's early days yet"

Geoffrey Wong
Head of Global Emerging Markets and Asia Pacific Equities

Fireside chat with Geoffrey Wong

Head of Global Emerging Markets and Asia Pacific Equities

Is it true that you‘ve spent your entire investment career in emerging markets? Where and why did it all start?

You must have seen everything and learnt every trick in the book by now. Does the market still have the ability to surprise after all this time?

Indeed. I started managing Asian and global equities in 1988. Some colleagues and I, led by a Wall Street veteran, started one of the first investment boutiques in Singapore. It was a good learning experience. In a small firm, I had to get involved in all aspects of the business, including operations, IT, trading, marketing, administration, and of course portfolio management. Having both an engineering and finance background, when we started I was not only a portfolio manager, but also the IT department. We ran the firm for about ten years before selling it, after which I joined UBS.

As the saying goes, history does not repeat itself but it often rhymes. It is rare for the market to behave exactly the same way, as it is a learning and adapting mechanism. Nevertheless, there are regularities in the way industries and companies evolve and go through cycles. Human nature and hence management behavior also tends to change slowly. Experience can help with judging these things

Covering such a geographically diverse asset class must keep you in transit for much of the year. When you get down time, what do you do to escape and relax?

I like travelling to more emerging countries, but preferably those without stock markets yet. In 2015, I visited Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. I must admit, when exploring these countries, I cannot help noting the brands of motorcycles, shampoo, packaged foods, mobile phones, etc. that are in use.

The search for ideas never stops.

About Geoffrey Wong

Geoffrey has overall responsibility for all Emerging Markets, Asian, Japanese and Australian equity teams, strategies and research. 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.