Cheryl Chiang analyses publicly listed stocks on both a quantitative and qualitative basis as an Associate at GIC. She is a GIC scholar, and she holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from London School of Economics.
While money is not everything, it sure makes the world go round. By being financially secure, you will get to lead a relatively stress-free life with minimal or no debt, while maintaining your lifestyle and needs.
If you take the concept to a national level, a financially stable country will be able to provide more for nation-building and aid its citizens when the need arises, much like what we have seen in these times.
For Singapore, the organization that contributes significantly to our nation's financial security is GIC.
GIC is one of three investment entities in Singapore that manages the Government's reserves, alongside the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Temasek Holdings. The organization takes a long-term perspective, investing in a variety of asset classes across the world.
Pivotal to GIC's success is its people. For one, Associates like Cheryl Chiang bring novel ideas and break new frontiers in the world of investment, with the aim of keeping GIC ahead of the curve.
Cheryl is a recipient of the GIC scholarship and she has been working for the agency since 2020. We caught up with the 24 year-old, who has given us some insights on what is it like to work for one of Singapore's fund managers.
Many young people have no interest or inclination to invest or understand how money works. How did it come about for you?
My parents run a business and I have always been interested in how operational decisions were made, including incremental investments into the business and launching new product lines. This curiosity extended to understanding how other businesses work and understanding how people invest their money across different asset classes; this also helped me decide to study Finance at university with the intent of pursuing a career in investing.
So with that, GIC would have naturally appealed to you.
Definitely. GIC's scholarship was the only one I really was hoping to get since it was the only scholarship that offered a career as an investment officer. I was introduced to GIC when I was in JC. My class visited the GIC office for an introductory session on the company and its role.
Was there anything else that helped you make your mind about joining GIC?
Having spoken to seniors who were working within the company as well as others who work in asset management, I realised that GIC has a good reputation worldwide in terms of its asset management business. It is also known for having a good working culture and seniors who are very willing to teach younger team members.
On the back of the GIC scholarship, you went on to pursue Finance at the London School of Economics. How did you apply what you have learnt to your current work?
I really enjoyed studying Behavioural Finance. It's interesting to learn about how different market participants make decisions and how they tend to show irrational behavior based on inherent character traits or biases. My education gave me a good understanding of basic market mechanisms and valuation methodologies. It also gave me a good foundation of financial knowledge that I can adapt to different situations that I come across at work.
I was also the Sports Captain for the Singapore Society at LSE and organized interschool matches. This gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and work with people from different backgrounds. This experience comes in handy, as the working environment that I am in requires independent work, while also being able to work well within a team.
Speaking of work, tell us more about your roles and responsibilities.
My work requires me to understand companies before we decide to invest in them. In order to do this, I do research on the industry and competitors to make sure that I understand the competitive dynamics of the industry well. I also do an in-depth analysis on the company, which involves both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Some day-to-day tasks include building financial models, reading research reports, and speaking to financial analysts or even management teams of companies.
How does your role contribute to GIC's mission?
GIC's mission is to preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of Singapore's reserves by achieving good long-term returns above global inflation. In order to do this well, analysts and portfolio managers at GIC must make sound investment decisions. The in-depth analysis that I do for the companies that I cover helps us make good investment decisions based on thorough work.
What is the work culture at your organisation?
I can confidently say that I think GIC is one of the best places for someone to start their career. Even as a junior, you are given many opportunities and responsibilities. For example, I get to lead meetings with sell-side analysts or management teams of companies. Seniors are also very willing to mentor juniors and it is very easy to ask questions and learn from more experienced people in the team. I am encouraged to have my own view on companies which does not have to be completely aligned with the view of the seniors in the team.
What possibilities are there for people working at GIC?
One benefit of working within a large organisation like GIC is that there are so many work-related possibilities. We have departments covering most asset classes and the graduate programme provides structured training which allows you to rotate between different departments to learn from various groups of people.
In your opinion, what qualities are needed to excel in GIC?
You have to work well within a team, be a self-starter and a quick learner, and have a passion for investing.
What would you say to convince someone to join your organisation?
If you are interested in a career in investments, this is probably one of the best places to start your career. You will be constantly challenged and will get the chance to learn extensively from seniors.