Why Human Capital is Still the Most Important Asset in Fund Management

14 Nov 2018

An Exclusive Interview with Robert Hayward, Principal at Funds Partnership Asia. Hear first-hand insights on what a day-in-a-life is like for him, and what keeps him motivated as a recruitment consultant in the asset management industry:

  1. How did you decide to move to enter recruitment, specifically in fund management in Asia? 

I’ve always had an interest in understanding the inner-workings of businesses, and recruitment offers that chance to have high-level conversations with different industry heads and decision-makers to drive their ideas forward.

Human capital is still the most important asset in businesses, and will always be. Even innovation and technology is second place – and that cannot be created without human capital.

Why this industry? It’s an exciting space, to say the least. I believe private equity forms the building blocks of almost every industry. Furthermore, it is the only industry that is recession-proof as well – unlike banking, oil and gas, and shipping.

I decided to relocate from UK to Asia as I see huge potential in this part of the world. With a rise in burgeoning economies across SE Asia and China opening up more to foreign investment, I truly believe Asia is the place to be right now.

2. What is it about your job that you love most?

I’d say it is being in the forefront of understanding global markets and trends and being able to influence people who develop and shape them.

Even though I’m based in Singapore, the nature of the Alternative Investment Space means they want to recruit global talent. For example, I often speak to European clients who are investing globally, which also includes conversations tracking the wider established markets, along with a focus on penetrating the China market. This allows me to see from both top-down and ground-up perspectives on a diversity of individuals and corporations. In that sense, I’m more than just a recruiter, sometimes I end up playing the role of a consultant as well, educating them on how they can better-implement their strategies.

In particular, impact investment is on the rise, especially in Asia. It’s quite heartening to see both established investment banks and other individuals start entering it to make a real impact and difference in developing communities in Southeast Asia.

People have started to recognise how impact investing  drives enormous value – both economically in terms of returns of investment and improving quality of life for communities in a sustainable manner.

In the past, it was just risky, but now it has increasingly proven to have very lucrative returns – at least 5x the amount of typical investments. Just in the last six months, I know several well-established investment banks who are pouring their resources into growing the capacity of their impact investment teams.

These include exciting global projects bringing banking, healthcare and agricultural innovation to developing communities in South East Asia and parts of Africa.

You could place someone in a job that actually changes the lives of a few thousand people.

3. Just a month working at Funds Partnership Asia (FP Asia) – how has it been so far?

Pretty full-on. There’s been a really dynamic culture both in and out of the office, but I’m loving the challenge! One thing’s for sure – I really like working on the commercial side of things – helping some of our clients to hire the best C-suite to lead their investee companies forward.

4. Describe the FP Asia team in 3 words 

Dynamic. Visionary. Local (very ground-up!)

5. What is a day-in-a-life for you like? 

35% – speaking to clients and candidates, either via phone or in-person

30% – project delivery, follow-ups and administration (computer work)

25% – internal discussions and strategy

6. Any words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in the same field?

Recruitment is both the easiest and hardest job in the world.

I would say the most important trait you need to have in recruitment is enthusiasm – it can be very rewarding if you approach if from that perspective.

It’s definitely a job that requires a lot of energy. You have no cap on closing deals, but if you don’t pick up the phone, nothing is going to happen. You need to be able to deliver of course, but also dig deep through the hard times and wait for it to click. When it does, it will snowball and you can just ride on the momentum.

Also, it’s the only sales job in the world where your “product” isn’t an inanimate object without opinions!

That means you really have to understand the human psyche and what drives people and business to deliver a truly effective consultative service. All in, recruitment is a great platform to pivot into any role in any industry – as the most integral part of all business transactions happening daily and globally is the human element. It’s all about understanding people. Recruitment will teach you that.

If you are interested to speak further with Robert on up-and-coming trends in the private equity space, or are keen to explore a career in recruitment in the funds industry, email Robert@fundspartnership.com