This Asset Manager Sees Opportunities in Real Estate and Business M&A.
Stocks and nearly all other financial assets have had a bad year this year. The S&P 500 is down 19% over the past year, with more than 2% in the last month. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has fallen by 32%, including 5%, over the same period.
Many investors are now looking for safe-keeping places to keep their money. It’s therefore not surprising that S&P Global’s Investment Manager Index shows a decline in global risk appetite, driven by the darkening moods of U.S. equity investors.
While most investment managers support healthcare, they are the most bearish about real estate. One asset manager, however, disagrees with this consensus. David Yong is the CEO of Evergreen Group Holdings in Singapore, an asset management company. He sees great opportunities in both real estate and business.
He stressed that real estate was not for cash-rich investors. It is no secret that new debt looks particularly attractive due to ongoing interest rate increases.
Getting into investing
Yong’s vast experience and unique perspective on asset management have given him a unique approach. He is a serial entrepreneur, now a pop musician, with investments in everything, from timber to real property, business startups, and other industries in Southeast Asia.
There are many reasons why asset managers enter the financial sector. Although the investor already managed his money with others, they wanted to expand their portfolio. He and his Evergreen cofounders became asset managers and the rest, as they say, is history.
In a recent interview, Yong discussed the best investment opportunities he sees, insights on managing multiple businesses simultaneously, and his experiences as a singer in K-pop.
Increasing the size of your investment portfolio
He describes himself as a multi-hyphenate CEO and lawyer who is also an artiste in K-pop. His primary focus is on managing investments in Evergreen’s core finance, real estate, and lifestyle areas. Yong has been passionate about making the suitable investments for a long time.
David says that financing and investing in businesses is like water for humans. Every business looking to expand and scale would need investments. When I saw the potential for expansion and access to other businesses in different industries, my passion for making the right investment led me to make the right investments.
He and his cofounders started investing with only their family’s funds and funds from their company. They had to move into asset management to increase their portfolio size and scale. This allowed them to attract more assets to manage.
Learning and changing
Like any experienced asset manager, Yong has adapted and modified his strategies to adapt to changing environments and situations over the years. He was reminded of the importance of diversifying his portfolio by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investor stated that during the COVID pandemic, many industries were severely affected by the unpredictable nature of the situation. “It struck me that all investments we make must have a healthy mix of diversity.” It reinforced to me the old saying that you shouldn’t put all your eggs into one basket. Instead of investing in one stock or one industry, I believe in investments in many businesses in Asia.
Yong is not the only asset manager who learns from his mistakes. He recalls a crucial problem that taught him a valuable lesson in 2018. He decided to invest with some friends in a fusion restaurant in Singapore. The management team of the restaurant left much to be desired.
He states, “Unfortunately, our restaurant was run by an inept team, which led to us all losing our investment.” It taught me an important lesson: No matter how profitable or rosy a business appears, the team that manages it is crucial. Things can quickly go south if the wrong management is in place.
You have the best opportunities right now.
His debt investments, on the other hand, have been huge winners for him. Evergreen’s financing company has grown throughout Asia and made it possible to make profitable investments in a variety of industries.
The financing business has allowed the firm to create synergies with its partners and allow them to grow their businesses. Evergreen’s downside potential is greatly reduced by the investor adding securities to almost all of their financing deals.
He believes that real estate and businesses are the best investment options right now, but they are not available to all investors. Yong says that the global economy looks headed for a recession as global interest rates continue rising. This creates opportunities for investors with lots of dry powder.
These macro conditions could cause some entrepreneurs and investors to buy at a discount due to non-performing loans. David focuses on Southeast Asia and sees potential in private equity or venture capital.
He explained that “Southeast Asia is home to a young and growing population which makes it a vibrant economy, and many young entrepreneurs are willing to start entrepreneurship and go into the business early.” As such, we can be an early-stage investor as well as a strategic partner by offering our network, experience, and know-how to them. This will create a positive synergy effect between the startups and us.”
Yong continues to invest in the family business that produces timber, which has been thriving for many years. Evergreen employs a team of experienced traders to manage its day-to-day operations so that Yong and his team can concentrate on building new businesses.
The company also invests in the auto industry, particularly the repair and insurance industries. Evergreen recently opened a luxury watch dealer in Singapore as part of its lifestyle investment arm. This is to better serve the ever-growing community of high-net-worth individuals.
Move into K-pop
The CEO, despite his success as an investor and in other business areas, is always on the lookout for his next great opportunity. His most recent achievements were in South Korea’s entertainment industry.
Yong, despite not being able to speak Korean, decided to get into K-pop and become a singer in South Korea’s pop music scene. He believed that he needed to be an insider in order to invest in the entertainment sector. He believed that being an insider would allow him to access the right opportunities and make the right investment decisions.
But it wasn’t about being a pop musician. Yong, always looking for investment opportunities, describes Korean music and content as “the leading influence” in Asia. He also says that entertainment is more important than ever since the pandemic. He also stated that entertainment demand had increased significantly over the past year.
He stated that besides the income generated, the entertainment business has the potential to influence the next generation’s youth and leaders. I believe entertainment investments would have a positive impact on all of our other businesses. At the same time, entertainment is an important medium for shaping the next generation.
Tap his previous experience
Yong used his knowledge of asset management to help others in the K-pop industry, providing financial advice to them.
He explained that the entertainment industry is made up of idols, producers, and artists who are passionate about their art. However, sometimes they lack the business and management skills to make it a success. I believe this is where we can bring our management experience and years of business operations in many countries across Asia to help make a difference. It is crucial to have the right mix [sic] of business partners who understand the entertainment industry to make your business succeed and scale it higher.
Evergreen currently has entertainment investments in its portfolio. David claims that the firm has partnered with two K-pop agencies on the KOSDAQ, which are home to some of the most prominent names in K-pop. Evergreen also invested in two films by Jack Neo, a renowned director from Singapore.
The firm will launch a US$ 50 million K-content fund in 2023 to invest in more Korean dramas, movies, and music. Yong believes that Korean content is increasingly accepted worldwide and will continue to grow in popularity over the next few years.
Culture is crucial for investing and running a business.
Understanding the culture is an important part of business, regardless of where you live. This can be especially difficult in Southeast Asia. While investors from other parts of the world view Southeast Asia as one region, each country within it is unique in its cultural diversity.
“In some countries, trust or relationship must be established before business discussions can begin. In others, connections and local networks will be vital to gain access to the market. Yong explains. “I would first understand and assess the culture and networks of a country before I started a new business venture there. This requires spending time in the country and interacting with local communities and business networks.
His many successes have given him advice.
Yong has also provided advice to new investors. He warns investors not to get blinded by promises of unrealistically high returns or empty promises. He recommends that investors invest in the company’s management team to determine if they are right for the job.
He recommends that entrepreneurs set priorities and focus on time management. He only devotes his time to his business and those people who make a difference in his life. The CEO strives to make every moment as productive as possible. He was a serial entrepreneur and stressed the importance of having a strong team.
The investor stats states that “No man can be an island” and that each member of my team is focused on a specific type of business. “So, rather than being in different directions, I believe we all share a common goal: Evergreen’s business expansion and our ever-growing portfolio.
He advises people who want to have multiple business interests to be ready for whatever comes their way.
David advises them to be courageous and not be afraid to venture out of their comfort zones. He also recommends that they be prepared for setbacks and naysayers who might doubt their potential or ridicule their abilities. While doing enough research before you start a new venture, it is important to do your homework. It is often deeper than you think.