CENTERED With H.E.R.O. Issue 4: Internal Rhythm to Create Value Amid Trade War, NICE, SettleBank, the “Power of One”

When the forces of rate cuts and trade war and regulatory techlash of tech giants collide, the blinding flash light produced a bear-squeeze relief rally that whipsawed market-timing traders – and left behind unresolved dark ruptures. Foreign direct investments into emerging markets in 2018 totaled 1.8% of GDP, the lowest since 1996 before the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis, and portfolio flows into emerging markets turned negative in May 2019 with likely continued weakness ahead as VALUE 2.0 corporates and linear business models struggle to adjust to the disruptions in supply chain and an elevated cost structure. S&P 500, NASDAQ and DAX are down 2.5%, 5.2%, and 3% respectively since the trade war escalated from 6 May 2019.

Rising up through the fog of macro noise with their internal rhythm to create value are the VALUE 3.0 exponential non-linear innovators who continued to demonstrate their resiliency and strength to power ahead through the volatility and uncertainties.

One of our focused portfolio stocks, the Korean SMID-cap tech innovator NICE Information Services (KOSDAQ: 030190) with a dominant 75% domestic market leadership in the recurring information & big data services in personal credit information, is up 16.2% since the trade war escalated from 6 May 2019, extending its YTD 2019 gains to 53.9%.

With the impending “MY DATA” industry deregulation in Korea on big data business by revising currently the world’s most restrictive personal information protection law and a strengthening in loan reviews, market leader NICE is set to expand its decision analytics and big data marketing services revenue contribution from the current 8% to a potential 24% that its London-listed peer Experian is producing. NICE is also developing new artificial intelligence (AI) solutions with the convergence of financial and non-financial information to support loan decision-making, intelligent fraud bureau services and financial risk management.

We see an analogous situation of a flourishing in NICE’s big data business through the ascent of India’s HDFC Bank and Bajaj Finance/Finserv. Just as NICE dominates Korea, CIBIL [Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited] is the quiet monopoly who maintains credit records of over 600 million Indians and 32 million businesses and is the go-to-place for HDFC and Bajaj Finance/Finserv who are big data analytical tech innovators in leveraging upon the CIBIL database to keep their NPA (non-performing asset) risk substantially lower than nearly all of their value-trap peers who are blowing up.

After HDFC implemented the CIBIL Consumer Connect solution in Aug 2016 through which its customers can purchase their CIBIL Score and Report directly on its website within seconds, this innovation has enabled HDFC to nearly doubled its market cap. Similarly, Sanjiv Bajaj transformed Bajaj Finserv into a 100X fintech compounding machine by focusing on and serving customers with the best CIBIL score of 750 and above, sifting the good from the bad, identifying cross-selling opportunities, which allowed them to add new products from consumer electronics to furniture to mobile phones seamlessly. As CEO Sanjiv comments, “Our customer base is all mapped, data cleaned, segmented, put into analytics and credit stamped.”

Since we highlighted this Korean innovator about four months ago to one of our advisory clients, a business owner/CIO of an established Asia ex-Japan value fund management company in Singapore who manages sovereign wealth and pension/endowment money, the stock is up over 60% to a market value of US$860m. We are grateful to be able to deliver our recently operationalized bespoke investment solution for family offices, UNHW, corporates and long-term institutional investors with satisfactory results to this wise business owner/CIO client whom we like and respect and care for.

Another Korean H.E.R.O. that has remained positively resilient since 6 May 2019 is Minwise (KOSDAQ: 214180) which extended its YTD 2019 gains to 40.6%. Minwise had announced this week that its 43%-owned subsidiary SettleBank will be listed on KOSDAQ in July 2019.

Through SettleBank which it acquired in Oct 2016 for 46.4bn won, Minwise commands an overwhelming 97% domestic share in cash settlement market, which is the second most widely used means of electronic transactions in Korea following credit/debt cards (over 14% of the settlement market in 2017 vs 78% for cards). ZeroPay, a government-led project as part of the cash activation policy, is also run by SettleBank. SettleBank is also the number one player in the virtual account settlement business for all 21 banks in Korea, which is used for the payment from utility bills to online shopping malls, and its market share is 67.5%.

SettleBank is expected to list with a market value of 400-450bn won and Minwise’s 43% stake in SettleBank is estimated to be worth 172-194bn won, or 59-66% of Minwise’s current market cap of 292bn won (US$247m), while the core business of Minwise as the #1 mobile security authentication services innovator with a 90% share remains strong. SettleBank is highly profitable, having achieved a FY2018 sales of 57.1bn won and operating profit of 13.2bn won (2017 sales 39.3bn won, operating profit 9.4bn won; 2015 sales 21.9bn won and operating profit 5.8bn won).

SettleBank enjoys stable growth in its mainstay services of virtual account, firm banking, electronic settlement/payment gate (PG), and new opportunities in the fast-growing secure easy account settlement services increasingly used by simple/micro payment companies such as Kakao Pay, Viva Republica’s Toss, Coupang’s Rocket Pay, Gmarket’s Smile Pay, NHN Entertainment’s Payco, online-only banks Kakao Bank and K Bank, etc.

The mainstay stable revenue contributor in virtual account is an e-banking service that enables real-time or collective confirmation of customer’s deposits through virtual accounts or code numbers uniquely assigned to customers, members, and distributors in order to facilitate the efficiency of depositing and collecting of funds for business institution customers, ecommerce companies (Coupang, Gmarket, etc), insurance companies, telcos, and over 190 government agencies (National Tax Service, Korea Customs Service, Supreme Court, KEPCO, KT etc) having a large number of customers such as for national and local taxes, utility bills, penalties/fines etc. A separate deposit confirmation process and manpower are unnecessary for the deposit-only virtual account. SettleBank’s virtual account is the only private account registered with and recognized by the National Tax Service in Korea.

The fast-growth easy account settlement service is a bank account transfer service in which a customer withdraws money from a financial institution account and deposits the money into a payment merchant. Cash can be settled by one-time password registration after account registration through self-authentication. Growth is driven by teenagers and young adults without a card and, more importantly, by the fact that it has lower payment fees (1%) than credit cards (3-3.5%). High credit card fees is one of the reasons why profitability of ecommerce companies is poor.

According to Korea’s financial regulator FSS, mobile payment has grown exponentially in Korea from 2.44tr won in 2016 to 11.95tr won in 2017 and an estimated over 27.87tr won in 2018. Over 9 million people use mobile payment apps. Mobile payments are popular in Korea thanks to Minwise, because a customer doesn’t have to go through complicated security authentication systems, including the one-time passwords (OTP) required in other online payments. FSS reported said that despite its rapid growth, the mobile payment industry is structured in a way that creates more losses as the size of transactions grow. Currently, almost all of the simple payment companies such as Kakao Pay transfer money with no charge to customers, but they have to pay banks between 150 won and 450 won for each transaction. The companies are forced to find profits in connecting customers with other financial services, such as fund investments, real estate investments and P2P payments. Besides the convenient one-time registration, buyers receive an Income deduction of 30% compared to 15% for credit cards.

Minwise’s founder Lee Kyung-min comments that SettleBank plans to use its IPO proceeds to advance overseas cash settlement services. “We are preparing services for Koreans visiting Japan and Japanese visiting Korea by working with a simple payment provider in Japan. We are also looking into expanding into Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries with similar infrastructure such as Thailand,” adds CEO Lee who established Minwise in March 2009. Founder Lee started his career as one of the early employees (employee #31) in 1999 at NHN Corp/Naver which is “Korea’s Google” (KOSDAQ, 035420) where he was in charge of marketing and financial services while working on securities, real estate, loan services, and credit card contents. The curiosity about the IT-financial convergence service that Lee had accumulated in Naver became the foundation for Minwise and SettleBank.

On the industry dynamics of the mobile payment and simple settlement services, founder Lee shares his thoughts, including the services provided by SettleBank: “Our simple settlement payment service is very important for business activities and contributed to supporting the rapid growth of the mobile payment market. It does not need to be interlocked with commercial banks, and it only needs to be linked with credit card companies, credit card PGs, and online shopping malls. Online and mobile cash payment services that do not require a credit card are growing rapidly worldwide.”

“SettleBank’s virtual account service gives a virtual account to a consumer when he or she is paying for e-commerce and then immediately notifies the company’s parent account when the customer deposits money for the transaction. Why is this service powerful?”

“Consider that there are thousands of people who deposit money In the account at the same time, how do you identify and confirm who made the deposit and reflect it in each customer’s account? Realistically speaking, the handling and payment confirmation of this large-scale transaction on a real-time basis is too much and too slow. So we connect each virtual account to each customer and check the account through the network and automatically reflect it in the customer’s account. This is the power of virtual account services. So that people do not have trouble. SettleBank receives fees from financial institutions such as banks, card companies, e-commerce companies, the National Tax Service, and local governments in the process. It is cheaper than virtual payment methods and can be collected on the same day. In addition, it can receive the storage specification in real time, and it can realize the automation of the storage. It is possible to set various storage conditions such as deposit period, amount, and name.”

“For our firm banking and simple account settlement services, automatic transfer request and transfer of results and fund collection on the sane day increase profitability of fund management and automatic accounting processing can be done by linking the results of the deposit processing to the bank’s internal computer system. Real-time automatic transfer can be used on holidays, so you can prevent delinquencies, late payments, and termination of your contracts in advance.”

Founder Lee went on to emphasize his confidence that the simple cash settlement account will grow exponentially from the current 15% to 45% in the near future, led by the growth of Kakao Pay which has plans to expand its network of 190,000 stores and vendors to 1 million nationwide within the next two to three years: “Although the cash settlement account for around 15% of the total settlement market, it will grow to 45% in the near future once you increase the convenience of the services that consumers use.”

Thus, Minwise’s SettleBank business is an infrastructure platform and axis of electronic finance that has very high entry barriers, demanding extremely stable system operation ability and specialized financial technology for emergency disaster response and know-how such as risk monitoring, and is a profitable beneficiary with recurring revenue even as the mobile payment industry changes rapidly and bleeds in losses.

Minwise’s core business in secondary authentication service centered on personal information security allowed smartphone users of all three Korean telecom firms to sign into websites free of security threats and prevent illegal logins from personal information leakage (user ID and password) and mobile phone identification theft. Minwise’s business model generates stable and recurring monthly revenue with subscribers paying a very affordable 1,000 won (US$0.89) a month that is generally economic insensitive and Minwise recognized 700 won per month as its revenue after deducting the 30% share due to all three telco operators. Minwise’s mobile authentication services is particularly popular amongst ecommerce shoppers and gamers seeking to make secure purchase transactions of high-value gaming items and prevent mobile phone identification theft.

Our strategy remains: 0% in OEM/ODM + 0% in component makers + 0% in semiconductor & related sector + 0% in capital equipment, tech hardware & big-ticket items + 100% singular focus in a portfolio of highly-profitable listed Asia SMID-cap tech-focused exponential innovators = Higher probability of resiliency in both fundamentals and investment returns that are highly impervious to the US-China trade war risk and market volatility which have escalated since 6 May 2019.

The portfolio of 40 H.E.R.O. innovators, which has an average market cap of US$1.35bn (median market cap of US$843m), delivered strong interim results growth amidst the US-China trade tensions: overall weighted sales rose 30.6% YoY and operating profit grew faster with increasing returns to scale at 59.2% YoY, supporting the portfolio returns.

An overwhelming majority (82.5%) of the 40 HERO portfolio stocks are highly profitable “SaaS (software-as-a-service), information & data analytics/AI” companies and “platform business models”, a group which we believe is highly impervious to trade war risks.

Farsighted investors and our clients are experiencing first-hand and benefitting from the flight-to-quality effect in the market to quality listed innovators that are most relevant in this exponential world, because each time the market corrects, the stronger hands of longer-term farsighted investors will accumulate more and more of these quality innovators, while the weaker short-term opportunistic hands sell out, creating a resiliency effect in these stocks. Listed profitable SMID-cap tech innovators with non-linear exponential growth potential are the most relevant and mispriced multi-year investment trend and opportunity.

Following last week’s inaugural Roundtable discussion with Singapore’s Super H.E.R.O.s who come together to brainstorm about “Re-Imagining Value Investing in an Exponential World: VALUE 3.0 With Ever More Value Trap Losers & A Selected Under-the-Radar Group of Winners With Exponential Edge”, we discussed briefly about the seductions of seeking a VALUE 3.0 quality exponential innovator with highly-profitability business model at VALUE 1.0 price, especially when there are accounting irregularities concerns, and the important distinction that not all “recurring revenue” businesses are cloud, and not all “cloud” are SaaS innovators.

An ASEAN-listed HR/payroll “software” company and a reseller of a European MNC’s software who claims 84.6% of its revenue are “recurring”, but with unusual cashflow from investing activities and unusual “other long-term investments” in the balance sheet – and whose price has fallen 30% since 15 May 2019 to a more “attractive” valuation, which later rebounded 24% – appears to fit that criteria.

For instance, the exponential edge of SaaS (software-as-a-service) cloud innovator Workday (NASDAQ: WDAY) and ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) is apparent in comparison to the ASEAN-listed HR/payroll “software” company (emphasis: it’s more a professional services firm!) and reseller of SAP software through an open-minded learning of Workday’s strengths highlighted in its Financial Analyst Day slides from 2016-2018:
• 2016 Financial Analyst Day Slides (Link)
• 2017 Financial Analyst Day Slides (Link)
• 2018 Financial Analyst Day Slides (Link)

As pointed out by Workday in its 2016 Analyst Day (slides #41-69), not all “recurring revenue” businesses are cloud, and not all “cloud” are SaaS innovators. For instance, we would outsource our payroll matters to a local CPA firm whom we pay a “recurring” fee for their “professional services”, and the work task is updated manually by their staff on their “software system”, but it’s far off from the cloud-based innovation like Workday’s “Power of One” which we will briefly discuss shortly.

Workday highlighted this as the “current state of the problem” of on-premise/legacy cloud companies in providing a service to clients at a cost ratio 10X compared to Workday, like the ASEAN-listed HR & payroll outsourcing “software” firm whose software business (under 30% of their revenue) is largely that of reselling the European MNC’s on-premise licensed software & related system maintenance service, and some cloud software (likely under 5% of revenue), but claims 84.6% of its revenue are “recurring”, as reported in its annual report and footnotes. The word “cloud” is also mentioned only once in its annual report and in relation to the training of their employees in learning about the industry when they attend public seminars.

Notably, the ASEAN-listed HR/payroll “software” company had disclosed in its Footnote 9 under receivables that it had written off accrued service income of losses on terminated agreements because customers terminated agreements to install legacy on-premise systems.

On Footnote 31 under contingent liabilities, it also disclosed an unusual related-party transaction (“separation agreement”) in which it disposed an associate for S$1 to a subsidiary, and the associate transfers a group of customers to another subsidiary, and these receivables under the “separation agreement” are classified as “other receivables – unrelated parties”. Footnote 12 disclosed that it acquired an “accounting and tax advisory” business” at 10.5X the net asset value (nearly all asset comprises of trade and other receivables) with the cash paid for acquisition in excess over NAV classified as “unallocated cost of business acquisition”.

The unusual “other current & long-term investments, intangible assets, goodwill, unallocated costs of business acquisitions” account for an overwhelming 72.4%(!) of total asset in the balance sheet (US$28.4m). The cumulative positive operating cashflow for 2017-2018 (US$10.4m), when adjusted for these what seems possibly to be “working capital items classified under investing activities”, would turn negative to a cash outflow amount (-US$12.5m) that, when combined with the cumulative total cash dividend paid out (-US$8m) and the cumulative profit for 2017-2018 (US$7m), that is the total cash outflow, is uncannily proportional to the total cash inflow raised externally during the IPO (US$27.5m) in Dec 2017, raising further questions and concerns on whether the underlying business is really producing any real and sustainable internal cash inflow.

On unusual and confusing cashflow statement and balance sheet, we are reminded of an excellent empirical research paper “Incentives to Inflate Reported Cash from Operations Using Classification and Timing” which was published in the top-tier journal The Accounting Review. The empirical research evidence examines that unlike the manipulation of earnings through accruals, firms manage CFO (cashflow from operation) via classification and timing, shifting items between the statement of cash flows categories both within and outside the boundaries of generally accepted accounting principles.

Workday’s strength lies in what it calls the “Power of One” – one code line, one security model, one mobile app, one data model, one user experience (UX), one version, and one platform.

By switching from the legacy on-premise software to cloud-based SaaS, not only are the upfront investment and maintenance fees associated with on-premise solutions that this ASEAN-based professional services firm has been booking its clients will be eliminated (and such “software” business produced 30% of its revenue), but more importantly, a whole new level of cloud-based analytics capabilities, including artificial intelligence x robotic processing automation (AI x RPA) to intelligently automate transaction processing, are embedded to provide users with powerful real-time insights, intelligence and predictive analytics from the integrated human resource management and financial accounting data that can be used to facilitate planning, budgeting, forecasting and day-to-day operations.

In addition, since Workday launched the Workday Cloud Platform in 2016 to open up to third-party developers and its own customers to build applications that run on and integrate with Workday with a single API (Application Programming Interface) point of integration, the PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) has supercharged Workday into an even more powerful collaborative platform for users. Workday’s enhanced open innovation PaaS business model is similar to how scaled since the 2006 tipping point moment when it built AppExchange, an open API marketplace of third-party software applications developed by external partners.

For instance, consider the powerful integration of ServiceNow with Workday to create an exponentially better user experience that is possible due to the open API Workday Cloud Platform. Initially designed for IT departments, ServiceNow has evolved to cater to nearly every aspect of the corporate chain – human resources, finance, marketing, and field operations – with a unified portal allowing the various teams to interact and deliver a seamless employee experience consistent across all interactions. This cloud-based collaborative service management solution provides employees a single platform where they can update their information, submit questions and time-off requests, and access common forms. Through ServiceNow, HR departments can have an efficient system of tracking and responding to employee questions.

Workday focuses on human resources and financial management, combining functions such as benefits, talent management, payroll, time and attendance, as well as recruitment. Workday’s Human Capital Management solution manages all of the employee information and critical organizational data in one place. Workday then uses the data to create sophisticated metrics that can guide HR departments toward more informed, strategic decision-making. Workday acts more as the service center for all of HR’s data. ServiceNow, on the other hand, provides a channel for employees to instantly connect with other departments, such as HR, and delivers a consumer-like experience where they can access necessary information.

With the integration, inefficiencies and gaps created by using disparate systems are eliminated. For instance, after Workday collected the necessary data about new hires, it routed the info on to ServiceNow, which automatically went to work setting up new employee accounts and notifying different departments about what the new hires need to get started. Employees and managers get visibility into workflows and can engage without having to send an email or make a phone call that gets lost in the shuffle. Resolutions to everyday tasks are simple and fast. Workday is leveraged for backend HR tasks, and persists as the System of Record & Analytics. ServiceNow, the System of Engagement, becomes the method of delivery for a standard experience across departments.

This single interface for users becomes the “Power of One” Employee Experience that is 10X, or even 100X, superior to the legacy on-premise software systems which the ASEAN-listed HR/payroll “software” company had disclosed in its footnote under receivables that it had written off accrued service income of losses on terminated agreements because customers terminated agreements to install legacy on-premise systems, a multi-year disruption trend that is likely to persist and accelerate.

Inspired by the Singapore’s Super H.E.R.O. Roundtable meaningful discussions, we are planning to organize a series of workshops on “100X: Exponential Innovators in the H.E.R.O.’s Journey to Navigate the Volatile World”, starting with our first session likely on 26 June (Wednesday) till July. Do watch out for more updates on this and we look forward to having you join us as a founding member and farsighted explorer in the H.E.R.O.’s Journey participating in the long-term exponential growth of a selected group of outstanding entrepreneurs.

Inspiration for CENTERED with H.E.R.O.: Our clients, just like our H.E.R.O. innovators and business owners, understood the profoundness that it’s not about a Maslow-type pyramid that they need to scale upwards in profits and returns; the H.E.R.O. journey is not upwards, but a deeper journey inwards and towards the center, about the kind of person you want to become through the work you build and invest in to serve those you care about.

Deeper and inwards towards the center. As Einstein elucidates: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value” – Amid all of life’s chaos and challenges, a restorative balm to all of us to be Centered in values with focus and purpose to be of value in serving an idea larger than ourselves and the people we care deeply for.

Thus far, of the 72 entrepreneurs and CEOs whom we had highlighted in our previous weekly research brief HeartWare, less than one-third are in our focused portfolio of 40 HERO Innovators, while the rest (50+) are in our broader watchlist of 200+ stocks.

If you are not moving forward in this exponential world, you are going backwards. If you want to join us at the leading edge of opportunity, if you identify yourself in the values and bigger sense of purpose in H.E.R.O., or you wish to tell from your heart to your most important person, son, daughter, wife, husband, or best friend that you are a farsighted and thoughtful explorer in the H.E.R.O.’s Journey participating in the long-term exponential growth of a selected group of outstanding entrepreneurs, standing up for the embracement of the human spirit, please contact us via email or WhatsApp at +65 9695 1860. Thank you very much for your patience and support and we look forward to growing exponentially with you as we explore the H.E.R.O.’s Journey together.

It started with rethinking a few questions. Question No. 1: Can the megacap tech elephants still dance? Or is this the better question: Is there an alternative and better way to capture long-term investment returns created by disruptive forces and innovation without chasing the highly popular megacap tech stocks, or falling for the “Next-Big-Thing” trap in overpaying for “growth”, or investing in the fads, me-too imitators, or even in seemingly cutting-edge technologies without the ability to monetize and generate recurring revenue with a sustainable and scalable business model? How can we distinguish between the true innovators and the swarming imitators?

Question No. 2: What if the “non-disruptive” group of reasonably decent quality companies with seemingly “cheap” valuations, a fertile hunting ground of value investors, all need to have their longer-term profitability and balance sheet asset value to be “reset” by deducting a substantial amount of deferred innovation-related expenses and investments every year, given that they are persistently behind the innovation cycle against the disruptors, just to stay “relevant” to survive and compete? Let’s say this invisible expense and deferred liability in the balance sheet that need to be charged amount to 20 to 30% of the revenue (or likely more), its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lurks and lies in wait. Would you still think that they are still “cheap” in valuation?

Consider the déjà vu case of Kmart vs Walmart in 2000s and now Walmart vs Amazon. It is easy to forget that Kmart spent US$2 billion in 2000/01 in IT and uses the same supplier as Walmart – IBM. The tangible assets and investments are there in the balance sheet and valuations are “cheap”. Yet Kmart failed to replicate to compound value the way it did for Walmart. Now Walmart is investing billions to “catch up” and stay relevant. Key word is “relevancy” to garner valuation.

We now live in an exponential world, and as the Baupost chief and super value investor Seth Klarman warns, disruption is accelerating “exponentially” and value investing has evolved. The paradigm shift to avoid the cheap-gets-cheaper “value traps”, to keep staying curious & humble, and to keep learning & adapting, has never been more critical for value investors. We believe there is a structural break in data in the market’s multi-year appraisal (as opposed to “mean reversion” in valuation over a time period of 2-5 years) on the type of recurring-revenue profitable business models, the “exponential innovators”, that can survive, compete and thrive in this challenging exponential world we now live in. Tech-focused innovators with non-linear exponential growth potential are the most relevant multi-year investment trend and opportunity.  

During our value investing journey in the Asian capital jungles over the decade plus, we have observed that many entrepreneurs were successful at the beginning in growing their companies to a certain size, then growth seems to suddenly stall or even reverse, and they become misguided or even corrupted along the way in what they want out of their business and life, which led to a deteriorating tailspin, defeating the buy-and-hold strategy and giving currency to the practice of trading-in-and-out of stocks. On the other hand, there exists an exclusive, under-the-radar, group of innovators who are exceptional market leaders in their respective fields with unique scalable business models run by high-integrity, honorable and far-sighted entrepreneurs with a higher purpose in solving high-value problems for their customers and society whom we call H.E.R.O. – “Honorable. Exponential. Resilient. Organization.”

The H.E.R.O. are governed by a greater purpose in their pursuit to contribute to the welfare of people and guided by an inner compass in choosing and focusing on what they are willing to struggle for and what pains they are willing to endure, in continuing to do their quiet inner innovation work, persevering day in and day out. There’s a tendency for us to think that to be a disruptive innovator or to do anything grand, you have to have a special gift, be someone called for. We think ultimately what really matters is the resolve — to want to do it, bring the future forward by throwing yourself into it, to give your life to that which you consider important. We aim to penetrate into the deeper order that whispers beneath the surface of tech innovations and to stand on the firmer ground of experience hard won through hearing and distilling the essence of the stories of our H.E.R.O. in overcoming their struggles and in understanding the origin of their quiet life of purpose, who opened their hearts to us that resilience and innovation is an art that can be learned, which can embolden all of us with more emotional courage and wisdom to go about our own value investing journey and daily life.

Warm regards,
KB | | WhatsApp +65 9695 1860


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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