This interview was conducted in 2016 when Ronald Liu was a Research Associate of Value Partners.
Q : Why did you choose to become a research associate in a fund house?
A : I received my high school and tertiary education in the UK. My undergraduate degree was in Mathematics and I took a master’s degree in Finance afterwards. Asset management does not only allow me to dabble in different businesses but more importantly, it gives me a chance to invest in these businesses. I have been a research associate for a little more than a year, and my main responsibility is to collect information and conduct fundamental analysis for fund managers to facilitate their making of investment decisions. I hope I can accumulate more experience in different businesses and regions in the coming two to three years. My goal is to be able to take part in making investment decisions.
Q : What does a research associate do?
A : When a fund manager believes a certain stock has potential, I start doing research on it. My job can be roughly divided into the quantitative and qualitative parts. The former is mainly about collecting data of the business and the companies. If it is related to apparels or shoes, then we have to go out and see whether those products are popular in the market. The latter is about market research and outlook predictions which require personal logical thinking. In the end, the quantitative and qualitative analyses should be integrated.
Q : Is there any unforgettable experience?
A : Our investment team conducts 2,500 company visits and research meetings every year. There are plenty of opportunities for me to get exposure to different industries and companies. I remember once I visited a gas company in the Mainland China, I was able to monitor and collect traffic data in person at the gas station. I also visited a private robotics company and witnessed how they tested robots for 300 hours continuously. These are precious personal experiences.
Q : What is challenging about stock research?
A : This business is all about racing against time. Time management is very important. If you keep your nose stuck in your own research without keeping in touch with fund managers and the team, by the time your research is done, the stock price may have risen already and you will miss the best time to buy that stock. There are nearly 2,000 stocks in Hong Kong. Even after screening, the research universe is still very large, so you have to work very closely with your team.
Q : What is your advice to university students?
A : First of all, you need to get more internship opportunities when you are still in university so that you can discuss real working experience by the time you graduate. This is a huge advantage when you are looking for a job because you know what you can contribute to the company immediately. Graduation is not the end of learning. University provides just a foundation on which you may pave the way for further study and learn more new things.
For example, when conducting research, it is not enough to understand the competition environment of the business alone. I will get onto YouTube to look at the production process of a product so that I may understand the operations of the whole supply chain and know the whole business starting from the supply and the prices of its raw materials.
Education Background: Master’s degree in Finance, Imperial College Business School Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Imperial College London Member of Summer Business Scholars Program, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Professional Background: Prior to joining the Group, Ronald had a placement as an analyst at Evolution Securities China Ltd., London where he assisted in offering financial advisory services. He also interned in various fields such as the Financial Advisory Services Department at Deloitte Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (HKMPFA).