Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Climbing fragrant hills in BJ

Fragrant Hills, or Xiang Shan, is the most popular place during Autumn in Beijing. Red leaves, clean air and cool weather, you couldn't find a reason not to go there.

The hill was once the place for the emperors to rest and have a breath out of their busy lives. They would definitely enjoy such a peaceful place.

I used almost an hour and half (including the rest and shopping time) to climb to the top from the bottom, which is really impressingly fast. The view is so fantastic beautiful, especially when you could shout strongly saying "I am on the top of the hill". In the minute, I feel like the happiest person in the world.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

diversifying Focus Media's profitable terminals

Focus Media, a legend in China's media industry last industry, is famous for its idea to put terminals in the offices and residential building. The concept is simple: the middle-class people usually working or living in those buildings will look at those advertisements showing on the terminal flat screens when they are boringly waiting for the lift and taking the lift.

Here, I, as a common client but not as a professional financial journalist, think something may go wrong on this idea. The building I am living in BJ right now, (I am on a trip to BJ from HK if everyone remember), has two TV terminals on the first floor. It may be for people waiting for the life coming. Unfortunately, I have been living here for almost four weeks, but couldn't remember a single advertisement from those terminals.

First, because I never need to wait for a lift to come. The lift is always available, so I only need a maximum five seconds to get to the lift, while never put my eyes on the screen beside.

Second, and more importantly, is I am never interested in pure advertising content. In fact, I will call the sales way of focus media more like a forced advertising way, while people have to, not actively seek to, watch the advertisements. Imagine if you will watch a pure advertising TV channel. No, I will not, as I will be bored.

Focus Media is still making good money, as advertisers already believed in this story created by both company and the venture capitalists which once invested in this company. It also expands quickly with more terminals covering more buildings. But I would like to remind all of the people to check the effective number of clients the terminals attracted, instead of a null quick expanding number. One terminal doesn't certainly mean people paying attention to those advertisements.

When I was in SH, I found many taxies already had a small screen in their cars. I found the ones carried more interesting contents, say Music Videos from Channel V, are more attracted to me and I watched them closely even when advertisements come. it means audiences need interesting contents, instead of pure, or boring even worse, advertisements. So I doubt Focus Media's profitability in the future.

Just personal opinions, not on behalf of any others people or any media.

Monday, November 06, 2006

how to find a job in China's financial sector

I got an email from one of my readers. He(or She) asked me to advise the job hunting in China's financial market. I am trying my best to answer it here. Hope it will help that reader, as well as many others. But what I would like to say that it is more important for me to tell more details which sector in the financial field you guys want to work in.

- the job market, number of job opportunities available

The job market is pretty good this year. Many of banking getting listed are recruiting more people, especially from overseas. one example is ICBC is recruiting now, even including fresh graduates, which is not that usual. Securities firms and insurers are also have a good time, too.

- the skills generally required (language, technical, quantitative)

Languages are basically English and Mandarin. You must have some finance degree or better some working experiences from overseas, which will help a lot.

- Credentials, education (masters, CFA, MBA, the school name)
All of them will help, but depending on what types of firms you want to join. MBA will be the best to join the investment banks and consulting firms, while others will help you with other financial companies or industrial companies which need financial person.

- what is the usual career path (starting positions, promotions, exit opportunities, the easiness of transitions into other industry)

Starting positions is depending how many experience you have. It is hard to tell in general. But I believe in a new sector, it will be easier to get promoted. As I know many investment bankers are pretty young, beyong their 40s.

- the pay scale (compared with other industries, benefits, tax)

Paid normall better than others, if not the best. Commercial banks paid pretty good among all types of careers before, and now investment bankers and consultant are catching up. But commercial banks usually have off-the-record income, such as house compensation, while the others may not have that.

- What are some of the bigger industries within Finance and what are the developing ones (Asset management, risk management, consulting, Investment Banking, Hedge funds, private equity, etc) ?

Bigger industries are commercial banks and brokerages. Hedge funds and private equities are growing, but still small. Fund managerment companies is also big, while expats could easily find a lot of sino-foreign joint ventures. Consulting, to tell the truth, is not as popular as before. Risk management is a pretty new area, but I believe it will develop quickly.

- Which cities are good for this industry (Shanghai, hongkong, guangzhou)?

hoho, this also depends on various sector, but to tell the truth, Guangzhou is not comparative with SH and HK. Hong Kong is still the international financial center, which is more efficient and regulated. Good place for investment bankers, at least based there to enjoy the low tax benefit. SH is better for sino-foreign joint venture career development, such as funds and importing/exporting related. BJ is a place for financial experts working closely with policies, such as commercial banks, investment banks, and even brokerages. Private equity and venture capital are usually based in BJ too. Also, SZ is also a good place for small and medium size companies, the city also has a lot of loca private equities and hedge funds.

All in all, it depends on various choices, and my understanding is just for reference. just meeting a banking expert last week, and he told me attitude is more important than others for financial professionals overseas to work in China. And that's true.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

India and China

I was attending the Business CEO Forum in BJ on Wednesday. One of the session is on India and China's competitiveness. Why people always like to compare country from country? Especially like the emerging China, people first compared it to China, then India, then maybe some time U.S. But I would like to argue China is always China, with its unique history and opportunity and weakness. China has its own fantasy.

Among the Q&A session with a governor from Saudi Arabia, a guy from China Beijing Secondary Exchange, a government-owned secondary market for company sales, stood up and invited governor for a visit. It sounded no problem if he could stop then. But he continued to complain a lot on the foreign investors' bad opinion on China and....( I almost forgot his point in fact). The moderator had to stop him in a really rude way. I could say he is really brave but the timing was not proper, and the manner was not polite. One senstence, not a good show-off time.

Many Chinese businessmen are agressive these days, especially when dealing with foreign people, but in fact, they haven't learnt the well-rounded way to show themselves. I still remember when I meet the guy, a senior official with that exchange, in a conference where he gave an exciting speech. But during the conference break, I tried to talk to him, but he behaved in a really strange way: he raised his two hands near his mouth, without speaking anything, only his lips moving around, trying to show me he couldn't speak; doesn't make sense at all, right? if you don't want to talk to the media, then just tell them directly. why behave so strangely?

I always remember this, and I believe it shows they need a lot of professional training on how to do a good show off.