Pheim SICAV-SIF-ASEAN Emerging Companies Fund was awarded “Best of the Best Performance Awards 2013” for 3-year and 10-year periods ending September 2013 for the ASEAN Equity Category by Asia Asset Management, Hong Kong in 2014.
Dr. Tan Chong Koay was born in 1950 in Kedah, Malaysia. His ancestors sailed from Chaozhou, China to Malaysia, and moved to Kedah, known as “the Rice Bowl of Malaysia”. He was raised in an impoverished small village called Jeniang, in Kedah. No tap water and electric lamps were available there at that time. Wearing slippers was even an extravagance for children.
Tan Chong Koay is the offspring of the first generation of Malaysian immigrants. Of nine siblings – seven boys and two girls – Tan is the eighth child. His mother is a housewife, so his father shouldered the entire family’s burden by managing a small grocery store. Under such poor conditions, Tan worked hard instead of complaining, hoping to change his fate by gaining knowledge. After four years’ study in the village, he then went to the educational city in Malaysia – Penang, also an ancient city lived in mainly by Chinese, with his father. He continued his study in the famous local Sekolah Menengah Chung Ling and graduated in the late 1960s.
With the financial aid from his brother, elder sister and brother in law, Tan went to America to pursue further studies. Due to the poor situation of his family, relying on his family to support the tuition fees and everyday expenses was out of the question. During the five years’ college life, he never go back home so as to save money. The small amount of scholarship could not support him, therefore he had to live frugally and needed to do part-time jobs.
Recalling the hardship in pursuing his study during those years, Tan cannot help sighing with emotion. He said that working while studying was the only way to continue his studies and studying hard would give him better prospects in the future. It is the same as investment, that is, investing time, energy and stamina and harvesting maturity, rich life experiences and courage to overcome difficulties. Such a return on investment is the most valuable outcome. It was this firm conviction and commitment that changed his status quo and supported him to get a Bachelor and Master degree. Tan believed that hard work is of vital importance. As long as he works hard, there will be opportunities waiting for him. “God helps those who help themselves” became his life-long credo.
Devotion to fund industry
Tan finally got his Master degree in 1974. Five years’ of study didn’t make him want to stay in the foreign land, as he felt a sense of belonging to his homeland. He went back to Kuala Lumpur with his wife, who also studied in America, and found a job in a local commercial bank for a year.
Tan joined SEACORP (now known as Amanah Capital Partners Bhd.) in 1976 and formally started his career as a fund manager. In 1981, Tan joined the Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank, now renamed AmInvestment Bank. The 31-year-old Tan then became the Head of Investment Services Division. With his efforts, he created an Investment Services Division with 65 employees providing comprehensive investment services within a period of seven years from scratch. Tan was involved in the design, development and launch of the Arab - Malaysian Gilts, initiating the first unit trust investment fund invested in bonds which were issued by the Malaysian government and guaranteed by banks. Tan also actively participated in the organization and promotion of the first Malaysian closed-end fund managed by Morgan – Stanley. It is the first listed in the New York Stock Exchange, raising funds from the US market and then investing in Malaysian companies. In May 1987, the fund was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1987, Tan was recognized as the Top Manager for Retirement Pension Fund in Malaysia by William Mercer Zainal Fraser.
Tan spent most of his time and energy in reading and researching. He learned about different industries, changes in different markets, and the regional political and economic situation. Some people always held prejudices in the asset management industry at that time, believing that this industry relies only on good luck either in finding customers or managing the business, while Tan thought the opposite, holding the view that the most important thing is knowledge and research. Even as a professional fund manager, he cannot tell who has the potential in this industry. But he was convinced that resilience, courage, integrity and hard work are all essential qualities on the road to success. Tan believes that his work and learning experiences are his most valuable assets. As an asset manager, the first quality needed is credibility, because that’s what makes your clients trust you, while at the same time, you need to maintain good performance. Hard work and endurance, never say never and never give up, rather than smartness are the most important qualities. In the past 38 years of his career, Tan almost always work more than twelve hours a day and even insisted on weekend working.
As a scholar, Tan Chong Koay is research -oriented; while as an entrepreneur, he is practice-oriented. Tan can perfectly combine research and practice. In 1984, 10 years after his graduation, he finished his doctoral dissertation and obtained a US doctorate by leading a Malaysian government securities research. It is this experience that laid a solid foundation for his creation of Pheim Asset Management Sdn Bhd, Malaysia.
Founding Pheim Asset Management, setting an example for the industry
In 1993, the Malaysian government opened up its financial sector. Tan then targeted the field of asset management and founded Pheim Asset Management Sdn Bhd in early 1994 in Malaysia. After the company was established, it went through a tough period. The company could hardly attract customers and dare not take bold actions due to the fluctuations in the market. "Opportunity is always left to those who are prepared and who has good business acumen" said Tan. Six months later, Tan was lucky to sign his first major customer, which marked his real start managing his own asset management company. In 1995, the Singapore government likewise promoted the development of the asset management industry, and Tan founded Pheim Asset Management (Asia) Limited in Singapore.
"Your need is our focus ", is the essence of Pheim, which put customers’ interest first. Gradually the company built its track record and attracted more customers thus enlarged the fund size managed.
As verified by Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting, Malaysia, Pheim Malaysia’s Malaysian Composite (for the combined Malaysia mandated accounts) outperformed the KLCI benchmark every year for 10 consecutive years (1994-2003) since inception.
Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting in Singapore also confirmed that the rates of return of Pheim Singapore were all beyond the benchmark figures from 1995 to 2003 for nine consecutive years since its establishment, in accordance with the AIMR Level 1 Performance Presentation Standards. Pheim Singapore performed very well even during the turmoil period of the market.
Aiming at the Chinese market, achieving his deserved honor
As early as a decade ago, Tan had already expected the development of Asian countries, and directed his focus on investing in China, India, ASEAN and other Asian markets. He once said that China has a lot of corporations with low stock value, so the market had a lot of room for development and was worth the investment. In his view, China, as a developing country and an emerging market, had great development potential. In recent years, he frequently visited Chinese enterprises and participated in the forum of entrepreneurs, and exchanged ideas with Chinese counterparts.
Chinese authorities awarded Tan for his contribution to the China and Asian markets. In October 2010, Tan was awarded “China Top 10 Financial Intelligent Persons Special Award 2010”. In January 2012, Tan was awarded the “Most Respected Chinese Entrepreneurship Award in Asia Pacific” by the China Economic Trading Promotion Agency. As an overseas Chinese who has been able to compete in the western dominated field of asset investment for 38 years and achieved remarkable results, Tan believes that this is the glory of the overseas Chinese.
Tan Chong Koay is deeply convinced that knowledge and wealth belongs not only to the individual, but also to the community.