Business School Topics
Kent Kwan has moved on from the mining boom. As the manager of one of Australia’s best performing investment funds, he’s far more interested in big data and baby boomers.
AtlasTrend, co-founded by UWA Business School alumnus Kwan, aims to help investors take advantage of four international growth areas: big data, healthy lifestyle, online shopping, and the spending habits of baby boomers.
“AtlasTrend was created to provide a hassle-free way for any Australian to easily start diversifying their investments to a portfolio of international shares built around a collection of thriving world trends,” Kwan explains.
“We identify and research each trend with the core requirement that it is a trend which will grow substantially over the next 10 years with near certainty.”
Kwan’s research is paying off, with AtlasTrend named Australia’s best performing global equity technology fund (six months to 31 May 2016; Morningstar).
He estimates that by 2020, each person in the world will need one hundred iPhones to be able to store all the world’s data – making cloud storage and big data analysis a major growth area.
While other growth areas include baby boomers (and their love of social media and cruise holidays), Kwan’s next tip for growth is clean energy technology.
“Solar and battery technology, for example, is coming on in leaps and bounds. This trend potentially has huge impact on many industries such as power generation and motor vehicles (for example, electric cars). Over the next decade, we think clean energy technology might completely change the way electricity is generated and how we store and use that electricity,” Kwan says.
Lessons from London
Kwan’s drive to help investors act responsibly was shaped by his experiences during the global financial crisis.
“I was working in an investment role in London leading up to and during the global financial crisis. I still vividly remember the days when people were lining up outside certain UK banks trying to get their money out in anticipation of bank failures. Subsequently, the UK went through a deep recession,” Kwan recalls.
“Unfortunately, it became very common to see boarded up shops and restaurants, people no longer being able to afford to live in their own homes and a great sense of economic suffering.
“It was a defining moment in my career because that period of time showed the real life consequences of poor risk management and bad investment decisions by a number of countries and companies around the world.”
Future of the finance industry
Today, after an international career working with Macquarie Bank and JP Morgan, Kwan is back in Perth. At the UWA Business School, he delivers guest lectures, sponsors a student competition, and mentors students.
Aspiring finance professionals, says Kwan, will need to be prepared for the changes brought about by technology.
“In the 21st century, the largest risk to a person’s career is likely to be technological disruption. Some of the investment or finance work that I used to do manually when I first started working is now readily available at the push of a button. I think the next generation of finance professionals should be well aware of what finance skills might be ‘commoditised’ with technology versus the skills that will still need human involvement,” Kwan says.
“To that end, a successful finance professional will no longer be the person who builds the best financial model. It will most likely be the person who can use their soft skills to source capital and the person who can best use technology to deliver a strong investment and finance function.
“However, one thing that should never change is that anyone who works in the industry should always remember they become a custodian for someone else’s hard earned money and should always act in that person’s best interest.”