Staying agile

Staying agile

Jisang Yoo, CEO of Mirae Asset Global Investments (India) talks about his stint in India, professional and personal challenges he faced and the investment climate in the country


For Jisang Yoo, his role in Mirae Asset Global Investments (India) is his first stint in the country.  An MBA from University of Rochester, New York, Yoo is currently the chief executive officer of Mirae India before which he was also the chief financial officer and headed the business development function of the asset management company (AMC).  With over 12 years of experience in the field of financial services including five years plus experience in Asset Management Business, he is currently responsible for the overall business operations of Mirae Asset India AMC.

Hailing from Korea, adjusting to a different cultural background and work environment was no easy task for him. However, he appreciates his colleagues for helping him adjust quickly. Yoo has been living in Mumbai with his family since November 2009 and has had to make some changes to his lifestyle. For instance, he used to play soccer and climb mountains on weekends in other countries, but now he has more time with his family here. He enjoys swimming with his daughter and has developed a taste for the Indian cuisine.

In this interview with Poornima Kavlekar, he talks about his stint in India, professional and personal challenges he had to overcome and the investment climate in the country.

Take me through your role in Mirae India from the time you came to India five years ago till now? 

I used to head business development and business strategy when I was posted to Mirae Asset India from Mirae Asset Brazil office. I was appointed as CFO in August 2011 and became the CEO in April 2012.  In over five years of working in Mirae Asset India, I have headed multiple departments from product, marketing and business planning to finance, which has helped me take a better approach to the mutual fund business in India.

What has been your biggest professional achievement in Mirae India so far?

The biggest pride for me is that we have turned around our business in India and now it is a profitable organisation. We have made profits over the last two financial years, which is no mean feat given the challenging environment faced by most of the mutual fund houses. Also, we have seen a 300 per cent increase in assets under management (AUM) over the last five years, which is satisfying. However, I don’t think it is my achievement alone, but it is team work across departments within our organisation which has led to this turn around.

What are the key drivers for running a successful asset management firm in India?

The three key drivers for running a successful asset management firm in India or for that matter anywhere are; 

Good product – providing varied financial solutions to investors and backing them with superior risk adjusted returns.

Providing the best service to clients and advisors – to ensure investors get the best investment experience

Retaining good employees who will help grow the organisation.

What are your thoughts on India’s investment climate? 

There are huge opportunities in India which everybody knows. However, we need to understand why some foreign investors are reluctant to invest in the country. There are ambiguities and complications along with frequent changes on the regulation and taxation front. What foreign investors want is a stable investment policy regime so they can make a proper planned investment decision. Also, if the Indian currency becomes more stable and exhibits lower volatility, I believe it will attract a lot of foreign investors.

What is your strategy to attract talent in this space – both senior and middle management? 

We share the company’s vision with prospective employees so that they can match their own career plan with company’s future. An important value for Mirae Asset Group is team play – to grow through respect for each individual and belief in team spirit. We aim to create an ethical meritocracy in which talent is rewarded and opportunity is equally available to all. Our people should be happy when they are in the office.

How easy or difficult was it for you and your family to get used to Indian way of living? 

Frankly in the initial stages we faced some challenges. For instance, food is very different here from eastern Asia and getting eastern food is not easy. (Please remember, Chinese food in India is not real Chinese food). Public transportation was another barrier.  However, I am confident that my family members are all well settled and fit into the Indian lifestyle now. Indian food and public transportation is not a challenge for my family anymore.

What kind of travel experience have you had in India? Where are the places you have been to? 

I have been to all the cities where we have our branches/point of presence. I have also travelled to Agra, Shimla, Kerala, Nagpur, and Goa for personal leisure trips. I have enjoyed all my travelling experiences and was deeply touched by warmth of the service given in all my trips.

What are the challenges you faced professionally and how did you overcome them? 

We started our business in the most difficult scenario in 2008. The financial markets, including the stock markets, have not improved over the past six years. However, we’ve tried to build a strong base for our India business by focusing on creating unique products backed with strong performance track records. We were very conscious about spending costs and, hence, we have been able to make the organisation very nimble footed and profitable. We have seen our AUM grow 300 per cent over the last five years, but we still have miles to go to become among the leading asset managers in India.

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