Switching his career as an auditor in Singapore and Sydney to helming a bespoke asset management firm, Lester Tay is currently the CEO of Rockstead Capital group. With more than 20 years of investment and financial market experience, Lester is leading the firm’s investment division and driving several capital initiatives, including its private equities and hedge funds products.
In this exclusive interview, WealthUp speaks to Lester on his journey and draws the importance of value-add in a competitive asset management industry.
WealthUp (WU): Before we dive in, could you share with us the founding story of Rockstead Capital?
Lester Tay (LT): Born and bred in Singapore, I started my career as a auditor at Arthur Andersen – both in Singapore and Sydney. Still not realising my calling at that point of time, I went on to join E&Y and Deloitte where I finally left the accounting profession in 2004. Together with a stroke of blessing, I started Rockstead Capital as a boutique private equity (PE) firm in 2005.
WU: Interesting journey! But what truly sparked the interest for fund management?
LT: While I’ve always known my artistic skills are confined to drawing stickmen and shapes, I’ve also known that I have a natural flair for numbers.
Even as a student, I was into analysing the profiles of companies and technical analysis. In fact, I remember diligently plotting out Dow Jones daily charts on mahjong papers. I know going into fund management will offer me an opportunity to not just be an investor, but someone who will go the distance to value-add to my clients. Additionally, it provides me an avenue to identify market inefficiencies, which are often presented as good investment opportunities.
WU: While we can take your love for numbers all the way back to the mahjong papers, when did you first get involved in fund management?
LT: Right after I left the accounting industry in 2004, I decided to find a career path which can leverage on both my accounting skills and investment know-how. Jumping on the hot IPO wagon thereafter, I was putting my intimate knowledge in cross-border financial GAAPs and listing rules to good use – generating sizeable returns for my clients.
While I’ve always known my artistic skills are confined to drawing stickmen and shapes, I’ve also known that I have a natural flair for numbers. Even as a student, I was into analysing the profiles of companies and technical analysis.
WU: Let’s talk a little more on Rockstead, is there a story for when it all first started?
LT: We started as a PE fund, investing in Pre-IPO instruments. We believe in not being a passive investor, but instead a value-adding one. With the PE fund, we were heavily involved in the listing process of our investee companies; assisting to float on various exchanges around the world, including Singapore, HK, Australia, Germany & China.
WU: Is PE fund still a huge objective, or has that changed for this year?
LT: We have since departed from the PE market as listing opportunities become far and few in between. Since 2016, we have diversified into hedge fund products as we believe liquidity is key to a good investment campaign.
We wanted to develop an investment strategy that can limit risk and provide a stable stream of income for our clients. We wanted a product that can rival off-the-shelves banking products, which are often clouded with hidden costs and disclaimers drafted in nothing less than Times New Roman Font size 2.
Our Rockstead Fixed Income fund was subsequently hatched, offering investors a capital-protected monthly fixed return, while providing them options to enter and exit on a monthly basis. The Fund has been profitable for the entire 2019 – and all of 2020 – and the assets under management (AUM) stands at S$170m as of May 2020.
We (Rockstead Capital) wanted a product that can rival off-the-shelves banking products; which are often clouded with hidden costs and disclaimers drafted in nothing less than Times New Roman font size 2.
WU: It seems that value-add is key in the DNA of Rockstead Capital, would you say this is the company culture?
LT: We have partners who were born in 4 different countries, with working experiences in various parts of the world, and bringing with them different skill-sets. There is a good mix of young bloods and old guards, both with commercial and financial experiences.
WU: How about with your clients, what’s the secret behind the great relationships you have?
LT: Over the years, many of our clients have become our friends; meaning a relationship that is not merely built on freebies and mooncakes. We are interested beyond just selling them an investment product; hence often transcending into advising on their legacy and tax planning, as well as migration options.
WU: Before we wrap it up, let’s take a look ahead – how can EAM move forward?
LT: Any EAM desk must be backed by good in-house products. It is within our long term objectives to have an arsenal of funds; ranging from low-risk fixed return investment, to strategies that invest in Algo-trading and Quant.
EAM should also be sensitive to clients’ investment needs as each individual is different. Our aim is to understand each and every client and to professionally advise them on a holistic investment portfolio, centered on a legacy-planning approach.
About Rockstead Capital
The cornerstone of our principles is to treat your wealth as if it is our own. We aim to provide bespoke asset management services and legacy planning, to individuals and families across multiple generations. At the center of all we do, within our core values, we put our only commitment, that is you. To learn more about our services, please visit our website: http://rockstead.com
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