Hedge funds in S'pore training 16-year-olds to manage billion-dollar investment portfolios: Bloomberg

More billionaires are coming to Singapore.

Matthias Ang | March 22, 2021, 06:17 PM

Hedge funds in Singapore have turned to training 16-year-olds to manage investment portfolios worth billions of dollars.

Firms are increasingly turning to internships for hires

With the current uncertain economic outlook, the Singapore government is pushing for companies to hire local, including hedge funds and family offices which, in recent months, have set up shop here.

But faced with a shortage of qualified locals who can manage investment portfolios, companies are turning to internships, according to a Bloomberg report.

One student who was profiled by the media outlet, Cao Yi Ke, currently 17, said that she had spent two weeks at Modular Asset Management last year handling data on spreadsheets and observing meetings with wealth managers.

Cao added that she had to compete against 10 other classmates from Raffles Girls' School for the internship.

With regard to her experience, she said, "I was a bit terrified, I didn’t know how to react to them speaking to me and I didn’t know how to hold a conversation but they were welcoming."

Meanwhile, Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin, the CEO of another firm, Quantedge Capital, which manages about US$2.5 billion (S$3.35 billion), highlighted that the company's new hires will likely come from internships.

Suhaimi added that applicants had to sit go through a series of tests and interviews, before receiving a five-week long internship to determine if they can secure a job offer.

Companies also offering conversion programmes

Aside from sourcing from internships, companies are also offering conversion programmes for professionals.

Modular Asset Management launched a portfolio conversion in which experienced professionals are taught how to use the firm's proprietary risk management tools and manage leverage.

The programme lasts 12 to 24 months, with the firm's CEO, Jimmy Lim, quoted by Bloomberg as saying:

"By the end of 18 months you kind of know if this person will be successful or not in this job and if they are, their assets under management will increase. If they’re not, then they typically leave."

Why are more billionaires coming to Singapore?

According to The Wealth Report 2021 put out by global property consultant Knight Frank, the number of ultra wealthy people here rose by 345 to 3,732 in 2020, a 10.2 per cent increase.

MAS Deputy Director, Spencer Hsu, had earlier said in July 2020 that many of the world's rich are establishing offices in Singapore in greater numbers, as a result of the pandemic.

As per Hsu:

"It appears the pandemic has actually served as a reminder of individual mortality and prompted families to bring forward plans, which they may have cast aside previously."

In addition, the number of billionaires establishing themselves here was already rising even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Hsu, family offices increased in Singapore by about 500 per cent between 2017 and 2019, although no figures were given.

A similar note was also struck by Leonard Tay, Knight Frank Singapore's head of research, who noted that Singapore continues to attract new wealthy individuals due to its stability amid geopolitical tensions in other parts of the region and the world.

Famous billionaires that have established themselves in Singapore thus far include the co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin, billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson, and the founder of the hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio.

Top image via Unsplash