PineBridge - In the Hot Seat | Elizabeth Soon

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  • 04 mins 24 secs

Elizabeth Soon, CFA, Portfolio Manager, Asia Ex-Japan Equities, PineBridge Investments, Hong Kong, answers questions from a number of fund buyers.

Asking questions are:

  • Darren Ruane, Head of Fixed Interest, Investec Wealth & Investment
  • Daniel Reynolds, Fund Analyst, Standard Life Investments
  • James Calder, Research Director, City Asset Management
  • Peter Toogood, Managing Director, The Advisor Centre
  • Sheldon MacDonald, Deputy CIO, Architas


In the Hot Seat


PineBridge Investments is a private, global asset manager focused on active, high-conviction investing. The firm draws on the collective power of our experts in each discipline, market, and region of the world through an open culture of collaboration designed to identify the best ideas. Our mission is to exceed clients’ expectations on every level, every day.

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PRESENTER: This programme has been created so you can put your questions directly to the experts. This is In the Hot Seat.

Answering questions today we have Elizabeth Soon. She’s Manager of the PineBridge Asia Ex-Japan Small Cap Equity Fund.

DARREN RUANE: What’s your history as a fund manager?

ELIZABETH SOON: I have over 25 years managing money. I started out with Allianz Global Investors, and then joined Schroders Asset Management in 1992, managing both large and small caps within the firm. I was managing Asia ex- Japan as a well as Asia including Japan during that time. I joined AIG Investments in 2008, which was subsequently renamed PineBridge Asia Limited, and have been with them since then.

DANIEL REYNOLDS: Can you tell me about the philosophy of the fund, and how that dictates the way you manage money?

ELIZABETH SOON: We manage active high alpha strategies. And in order to do so we actually really drill down into stock analysis rather than country analysis. We believe that companies go through cycles, and it’s very important to determine at which point of the cycle the company is in. So for example a company could be in an exceptional growth cycle or a mature phase, or it could be under a high stable environment or cyclical environment. So it’s very important to determine at which point of the cycle the company is in so that we can have the right tools to determine the right type of prices.

JAMES CALDER: What are the key objectives of the fund?

ELIZABETH SOON: The key objectives of the fund is to invest in smaller capitalised companies which are listed in the Asia ex-Japan region. We intend to invest on an average 50 high conviction ideas in the portfolio in a meaningful way.

SHELDON MACDONALD: My question is what’s unique about your investment approach?

ELIZABETH SOON: We have been operating the investment approach for the last 15 years, and this has been very consistent within our process. We look at companies across the region to come up with the best ideas, and we collaborate as a team within the region as on a global basis as well. For example we were looking at driverless cars as an idea, and we actually worked with our Japanese team to see what were developments in Japan likely to be. We’ve actually taken off the idea to actually understand that driverless cars is not something that will happen in the near term, or even in the longer term per se, but we do think that cars will get smarter and smarter, which is why we actually invested in companies that actually produces components for driverless cars.

PETER TOOGOOD: Why do you think now is a good time for investors to explore Asian small caps?

ELIZABETH SOON: Asian smaller companies are underresearched and undiscovered. So when they are discovered we have that alpha generating ability. A lot of the Asian smaller companies are also very innovative and technology driven, and they are also cost driven as well. So the cost efficiencies allows them to be able to generate profits above norm, and therefore that gives the alpha generating ability. One thing which I want to also highlight is that Asian valuations are trading at a lower level than the US valuations. So it’s actually looking very interesting at these levels, and particularly for small caps.

JOHN HUSSELBEE: What I want to know is looking further ahead, what does the future hold for Asian smaller companies, and what will you be keeping a close eye on?

ELIZABETH SOON: I think the main things that I would be looking forward to would be automation. That is one. There’s a lot of drivers for automation and less reliance on labour. So companies that are actually very involved in producing industrial machinery, components, that is led by automation. The second area which I do think is also key would be driverless cars. Driverless cars would be an important theme going forward, as people want to use smarter and smarter cars, so a lot of components that go into cars would be very important to lead to driverless. And the third area that we actually look quite closely upon is urbanisation. And urbanisation would be also led by infrastructure spending. So companies that are involved in infrastructure spending would actually benefit from this as well. And the fourth area would be technology driven. A lot of companies are leading the way into how we use smartphones and components that go into smartphones. So this would be also a key area that we would be looking into.