On… desirable work conditions in an asset management company

Unable to do any work today due to the server being down. Thus what I’ve been doing is to re-read previous email correspondence and reports to refresh my memory particularly on some special projects. Finishing that, I moved on to read some old emails from friends which I had specially categorized in a folder, and found some interesting discussions with ex-colleagues about working life.

One particular discussion was on the GLC vs. private sector debate, which I summarise here:

GLC Private sector
Can go back after 5pm No way! Earliest is 6-7… and that’s on a good day
Lower salary, but may be comparable on a salary/hour basis 

Senior exec = c.RM5k
Working hrs = 40/wk (8 hours a day x 5)
Bonus = 5-6 mths
Prorated salary = 5k x 18 mths/ 12 = 7500
Per hour = RM47

Higher absolute salary but long working hours 

AM/M = c. RM10k

Working hrs = 60/wk (12hrs/day x 5)
Bonus = 3-4
Prorated salary = 10k x 16 mths/ 12 = 13300
Per hour = RM55

Family-friendly benefits Minimal benefits
Relatively lower stress work as GLC has less competitors Higher stress lifestyle; profit-oriented culture
Promotions tend to be less transparent and based on seniority Promotions less dependent on seniority and more on merit (or at least that’s more of the impression)

The other was on common HR issues within a company:

Issues Employees’ wishes
Benefits Full medical coverage, including male spouse
Career path Transparent charts depicting the pathway from entry-level (e.g. fresh graduate to manager/VP etc)
Differentiation By way of: education (diploma/degree/masters/ PhD/professional etc); performance (results, KPI)
Dress code Smart and professional, e.g. pants suit
Efficiency Fast decision-making, less red tape
Working hours Flexible
Office perks/infrastructure Parking, high-speed IT system
Human Resource department Strong and well-functioning HR department and policies

I had also noted before in one of my emails to a friend, that, having learnt this from experience and the CFA charter, I have a design in mind of an optimal asset management company structure:

  • Economics department – led by a Chief Economist, who will have a team of economists, statisticians, actuarists etc (with sub-department of Satistics/Econometrics) to regularly present their economics top-down view to investment/CF departments
  • Investment – to merge local and international, with the CIO at the top, helped by a few VPs with specialties asset classes e.g. in equities, FI, international equities, and alternative assets. Department again works top down, from global perspective, with portfolio managers and analysts divided into sectors and regions of specialties.
  • Asset allocation and sector selection is done by a committee of CIO, VPs, AVPs from each section and top PMs/analysts.
  • Each sector and region has chain by itself – portfolio manager, analyst both specialising in the sector, and the information and data generated should be kept in the system and handed down. A database of all the industry data, company models, primers etc. should be kept in a common department drive so that even with headcount changes, the data and work remains, and enables each analyst/PM to pick up quickly.
  • Alternative assets e.g. real estate/private equity – more debatable whether this goes into a subset of investment or remain as separate division. Also can look into other alternative assets such as commodities, ETF etc. Derivatives not recommended (in my opinion) unless the asset management company has long-short funds or can short sell.
  • Do regular case studies to see how other global asset managers such as Calpers, Vanguard, Fidelity, etc do it.

Categories: Career woman, Musings

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3 replies »

  1. oh man, we lecturers earn a minuscule compared to even u guys in GLCs! hahahaha… we can only dream of a 2-months bonus, let alone 5-6 months one! 😀
    but yes, much lesser stress esp to those lazybones like yours truly..
    in reality, however, ada je senior lecturers (and usually profs) yang gaji besar but it commensurate with their higher workload and stress.

  2. Must put disclaimer la that this is based on my personal experience, as well as friends and colleagues and ‘stories’ about other GLCs/private companies.. so it definitely is a small data set.
    About the 5-6 months bonus ni, I think other GLCs are lower, like 3-4 at most. Tapi my previous employer ni have been very generous for the last 4-5 years. Judging from fb comments, the current employees were pretty happy with this year’s bonus so I think it’s even higher than that. Also recall that the monthly salaries are lower (relative to private sector) so that’s why bonus can be higher (in months, but on absolute terms more similiar kot).
    Also (banyaknya also pulak!), remember that i’m talking about asset management sector. Investment banking and consulting could be higher. Having said that, hubby used to be a manger in a fertiliser plant and they got like 11 months! So depends on that year/profit level jugak.

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