Investing as a professional career: Glimpse into a day in the life of a portfolio manager
Staying ahead of the market, debating investment ideas, teamwork, bond picking. It is all in a day’s work for Jo-ann Chia, Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income Singapore, UOBAM.
From the minute she gets up each morning, her mobile device keeps her busy – emails, news headlines, market moves.
Enter the life of Jo-ann Chia, one of the fixed income fund managers at UOBAM. The start to a high-octane day continues at the office, where her Bloomberg terminal gives her a snapshot of the challenges that lie in the day ahead.
"I have to methodically check bond yields and market sentiment to set the tone for the day," she says.
As markets move rapidly, Jo-ann has to be just as responsive, swiftly executing a few trades.
But she doesn’t operate alone. A daily morning meeting at 9am with other members of the investment team allows her to gather more insight on the investment markets.
They assess which information matters to their portfolios and which do not – from central bank decisions to controversies such as North Korean threats that may just be noise or a distraction.
Making investment decisions at UOBAM is a team effort and a calibrated one.
For Jo-ann and her team, each choice on whether to buy or sell a holding has already been diligently studied and thought-out. The team may have been watching price movements for months.
"There is no knee-jerk response as due diligence on the companies were done beforehand."
Indeed, for many at UOBAM, a typical day entails much research and assessing the impact on investments.
On other days, the air gets tense as bond prices come under pressure. These challenges are more than familiar to Jo-ann.
Fluctuations can occur in response to macroeconomic data releases, general market sentiment, political events, or even a tweet.
However, mark-to-market price changes do not have a real impact on portfolio return. The worst execution happens when one chases the market when everyone else is buying, or panics and sells on the way down when everyone is doing the same.
Her team believes comprehensive homework enables them to have a deeper conviction on their positions – and avoid being swayed by the markets.
It is a situation she relishes because every day can bring different and even unexpected challenges.
There are also face-to-face meetings with the management teams from companies issuing bonds in the portfolio.
She says this is crucial as she is able to pick up on signs absent in annual reports. These meetings help her and the team to develop greater insights and connect the dots when assessing a company’s business.
And on certain days, she meets clients to explain the team’s strategy.
In short, her role as a fund manager is multifaceted, requiring her to juggle multiple roles from analyst, to trader and economist.
The day draws to an end and Jo-Ann makes it a point to leave the office by 6.30pm. She unwinds by hitting the gym. But work doesn’t quite stop, yet.
"In today's interconnected world, information never stops flowing. At times, I need to monitor the markets for live deals late into the night".
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