INVEST! Day 2: A World of Storytellers and Number Crunchers

Article by Robert G. Tan / Photos by Marco Millan

Invest! is a two-day event that strives to provide an avenue for investment education and stocks training.

 

The Ateneo Management Economics Organization (MEcO) once again held its annual INVEST! With this year’s theme being entitled “Seek the Peak”, the organizers thought of inviting two speakers to talk – with the first one (link to article: tinyurl.com/INVEST-First-Day) being held a week before the other.
 
Last September 18, Edmund Lee, the head of a trading institute, had given a talk about the stock market and personal finance. On the 25th of September, however – the event’s organizers were able to invite a professional trader to talk about investing and trading, as well as the implications that arise from each of the two.
 
With Day One having a corporate CEO take the stage – Day Two of INVEST! saw Brian Ngan, the Chief Investment Officer of the Cedarside Holdings Corporation, grace the newly renovated halls of Escaler. MEcOnistas Alex Cordova and Nicole Salazar returned as the event’s hosts – first introducing Daisie Zeng, who lead the opening remarks in front of a jam-packed audience.
 
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Mr. Ngan began his talk by introducing two words – investing and trading, terms that are different but often used interchangeably. These two form the stock market’s first and second paradigm, respectively. The first one, investing, is when you buy stocks now and hold on to it for a long time. “Investing is about picking the right companies to invest in,” said the speaker. Trading, on the other hand, is when you buy a stock and sell it after a few days. He then said that you shouldn’t do both simultaneously and that it is “more prudent to be the first one – the long-term kind of investor.” This is because according to him, people either don’t have the time to invest/trade or don’t know how to altogether.
 
He recalls the story of when he met with a couple of people from Macroasia Corporation, an aviation company specializing in aircraft maintenance and catering. He did this after noticing something unusual in Macroasia’s income charts. The fact that it is a business owned by corporate magnate, Lucio Tan, gives it the identity of being the prime food provider in Philippine Airlines (PAL), also owned by the Tan family; and that is exactly what people think it is in the investment world. However, after meeting the people behind Macroasia and tasting their food (which he said rivalled that of five-star hotels), Mr. Ngan discovered that for eight years, Macroasia Corporation has been the food supplier of twelve airlines, including Singapore and Cathay Pacific. And the only thing they supply to PAL is their famous arroz caldo. He says that, “Not only is this company misunderstood. They are hedging their risks.”
 
He told this story to show the crowd that investing isn’t just about the numbers. It’s about the story. And from this, he claims, arise two types of people: the number crunchers and the story tellers. The reason why people didn’t know anything about Macroasia is because they didn’t ask. Mr. Ngan describes investing as a “bridge between the numbers and the narrative.” Storytellers need to learn the discipline gotten from numbers, while number crunchers need to get the imagination to know about the narratives behind them.
 
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Indeed, there is a place for everyone in the world of investing. But if one wants to do trading as a profession, Mr. Ngan points out that one needs to learn the rules of the game. Active trading is not for the faint of heart. And even though “the mind, the money management, and the method” are very vital in trading for a living, they are not the most important thing. “You need to have the fortitude or the mental preparation to win a lot or to lose a lot.”
 
If one were to survive in a world of story tellers and number crunchers, one has to have “balls of steel.”