International experience leads SAF alum back to Hong Kong

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

SAF alum provides perspectives on the effects of the global pandemic for Asian financial markets

by Patty Mah

Boris Bong (MAcc ’94, MSc Finance (UK), CPA), like many of his peers completed co-op work terms in the field of accounting throughout his undergraduate career. After attaining his CPA designation, Bong sought a career path beyond accounting and pursued a Master of Science in Finance at the London Business School (UK). He then built his finance career by working in Canada, the UK and Hong Kong for EY, Barclays Capital, Prudential plc, Search Investment Group, and JP Morgan Asset Management. SAF caught up with our accomplished alum to learn more about his career path and his insights and observations of the financial industry in Asia, where he now resides.

Bong retired early after an exciting and diverse career in private equity and venture capital investments. He now uses his finance knowledge and expertise to manage his family’s investments where he’s taking an endowment approach to investing. The move to managing his family’s wealth has been both rewarding and challenging, “because it’s frantic to manage your own money. You tend to be more careful, but I also have the flexibility to review and make investment decisions to diversify across more than one asset class,” notes Bong. “I’m still learning and building knowledge in areas and asset classes I’m not fully knowledgeable in.”


Through his diverse finance and investment career, Bong has experienced the effects of the global pandemic for the finance industry. Bong cites similar disruptions, as experienced by SAF alums working in finance in Canada. The life cycle of private equity processes has lengthened. For both investors and fund managers, the processes of fundraising and due diligence now take more time. Travel restrictions and bans have meant investor visits to “kick the tires” may no longer occur in person. These processes have needed to shift, literally overnight, to a virtual platform.

Hong Kong and Singapore have been affected, both negatively and positively, due to their unique locales. Although Hong Kong and Singapore are the second and third largest international financial centres in Asia, the investment opportunities within the two cities are limited. One positive has meant that the focus of their regional business within North and South Asia didn’t change. Even with many firms being headquartered in Hong Kong, fund managers and investors with staff located in China are able to travel within continental China and investing in Chinese companies has resumed to a near pre-pandemic level.

“The old model of flying in and flying out [when you’re headquartered in Hong Kong] to kick the tires has been disrupted. So, you rely on your regional offices where they have people on the ground who can still travel locally.” – Boris Bong

Similarly, investors are more cautious and conservative with their investments. Concerned with how the global pandemic may affect the market, many investors have taken a “wait and see” approach, choosing to wait for signs of market recovery before making a large investment.


When asked whether anti-Asian sentiments have negatively affected investments in Hong Kong, Bong notes that it hasn’t impacted businesses and investments in Asia greatly. Bong and many of his colleagues in Hong Kong and Singapore feel that the heightened tension is a product of political speak fueling the fire within a small demographic and credits businesses for being more worldly in their perspectives and knowledgeable about other countries.

There has been a growing trend for Asian companies who are solely listed in the US, to seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong. Bong suspects that the trend is more likely due to market diversification and to ensure that there isn’t a market disruption.

Recognizing that anti-Asian sentiments have made it across the ocean, Bong feels that “the opportunistic nature of the financial industry means that there will always be investors wanting to invest to turn a profit regardless of geographic location and/or race. Investors doing business in Asia will have established deep customer relationships and are less swayed by the political speak and these sentiments.”