“I feel joy in successfully building up a business in a very competitive market space, where we’ve seen players come and go,” said Dato’ Teng Chee Wai in a resplendent maroon tie.
For over 20 years, Dato’ Teng has headed Affin Hwang Asset Management as the Managing Director where he steered the company through different economic and market cycles. Under his leadership, the company has since grown leaps and bounds becoming the fastest growing asset manager in Malaysia.
But Dato’ Teng says the company’s journey is far from over as it positions itself for its next growth phase through a new brand identity – AHAM Asset Management (AHAM Capital). Smart Investor sat down with Dato’ Teng to find out more about the company’s new journey including future growth plans as well as life lessons on leadership and wealth.
A New Chapter
With the completion of the company’s acquisition by CVC Capital Partners (CVC) on the 29 July 2022, the company sought to rebrand itself to augment its brand positioning as a trusted wealth partner as well as carve its own distinct identity as an independently managed asset and wealth management firm.
The rebrand included a name change and a new corporate logo that is reflective of the company’s new growth ambitions, while also affirming its commitment to clients in building trust.
“Our new brand identity AHAM Capital marks the start of a new and exciting journey for us and our clients. As a name that is already widely used and familiar amongst clients and business partners, the simplified brand name builds upon the positive brand equity of the company’s asset management capabilities as well as its people that has distinguished it over the years,” Dato’ Teng said.
In January 2001, Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad started operations with just RM20 million in clients’ assets. Today, its total assets under administration (AUA) have grown to over RM75 billion as at 31 October 2022 – a true feat unto itself.
According to Dato’ Teng, this would not have been achievable without three important stakeholders who have been instrumental to the success of the company: its clients, employees and shareholders. With the trust of its clients, AHAM Capital has grown exponentially by nurturing and deepening relationships with its clients especially handholding them through volatile market cycles.
“One thing that always sets us apart is how we are also invested alongside our clients. The total staff investments into AHAM Capital’s own funds surpassed RM150 million this year demonstrating our own belief and confidence in our solutions,” remarked Dato’ Teng.
As for the employees who keep things running at AHAM Capital, they are the backbone of the company and integral contributors to the business. This is important as good talent is hard to come by and retain according to him.
Finally, it is also important to have shareholders that understand the business and are very supportive. Dato’ Teng and his team have been able to run the business in an independent manner and manage to keep the company’s culture intact.
With CVC Capital Partners (CVC) coming onboard, AHAM Capital is looking to take their business to greater heights by embarking on three strategic growth pillars: wealth management, innovation and regionalisation. Collectively these three strategic thrusts would help transform AHAM Capital into becoming a leading independent wealth and asset management company in Southeast Asia.
This begins with looking to investing in greater human capital and distribution networks to offer more investment
solutions to the public.
“CVC Capital Partners brings a breadth of synergy that AHAM Capital can tap upon. These include CVC’s wide connections in the marketplace that can help produce a ‘network effect’ to grow our business particularly in terms of alternatives and private market offerings. On top of that, CVC Capital Partners brings with them the discipline and expertise which allows for information sharing for us to learn from them directly.”
“Learning from their financial metrics as well as how they manage a lot of their portfolio companies will enable
us to understand how to manage the business and risks involved as we go to regional markets,” said Dato’ Teng.
Levelling Up With Innovation
Innovation and entrepreneurship are also very much key ingredients in the success of AHAM Capital and embedded in its corporate DNA. The company’s innovation journey started back in 2018 with the set-up of the Innovation Lab Department.
“Whether it is for transactions, internal processes, making things more efficient, or offering solutions via different platforms and wallets – digitalisation is the way forward.”
“Though it may be expensive, the pandemic really showed us that digitalisation was the right move to make,” explained Dato’ Teng.
AHAM Capital also recently made waves in the digital space through its partnership with Versa to launch a digital cash management solution.
“Our partnership with Versa which simplifies access to money market funds (MMFs) has been a stepping stone in our innovation journey. By doing away with the cumbersome registration and lock-in period that comes with fixed deposits (FDs), our collaboration with Versa has allowed more Malaysians to start saving from as low as RM1 in a MMF which is traditionally only used by corporates and high-net worth individuals.”
“We are also looking at other alternative investments like cryptocurrency. The younger generation has experience in it and believes in its potential. Although I have yet to start investing in Bitcoin personally, we need to find solutions to address this growing demand to appeal to a new generation of investors,” claimed Dato’ Teng.
To read more about this cover story where Dato’ Teng shares more on his growth ambitions, ESG initiatives, and tips for budding entrepreneurs out there, subscribe to Smart Investor magazine or grab your e-copy today: