SumZero Manager Q&A
BUILDING AN ESG FRAMEWORK AROUND “QUIET INNOVATORS”
We have also posted an uncut version of the Q&A, which include more cases from SaaS innovator in the Nordic to B2B e-commerce platform in Japan, and a meaningful conversation we have had with the happily-retired former CEO of the multi-billion family office of Tetra Pak who once shared with me the inspiring entrepreneurial story of Tetra Pak and why next-generation asset owners should care deeply about purpose-driven investment.Download the uncut version
Who We Are & What We Stand For
We are an independent investment research organization and the creator & thought leader of the investment & business management philosophy and framework H.E.R.O., which stands for “Honorable. Exponential. Resilient. Organization.”
H.E.R.O. is operationalized into a systematic 4-step investment process and investment framework powered by sustainability & ESG principles, with in-depth research, ratings and analysis to identify and invest in global structural growth innovators, especially ferreting out exceptional, under-the-radar, resilient market leaders who are governed by a greater purpose larger than oneself in their pursuit to contribute to the welfare of people and in solving high-value problems for their target customers and society.
We use the framework and positive criteria of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into the research and investment process in selecting companies that generate sales in products and services that contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs. The central focus of our impact investing is on innovators who contribute to the UN SDG Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure — “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation”.
The H.E.R.O. framework, research methodology, strategy and selected companies are currently provided to our clients.
What We Do: Strategic Singular Focus on Quiet Innovators
Quiet H.E.R.O. Innovators Who Make Our World A More Intelligent Community, Healthier, Safer, More Delightful, and Greener & More Sustainable
Strategic Focus on Quiet Innovators: Our investment strategies distinguish from those of other tech- and innovation-themed funds with its strategic focus on quiet innovators which present structurally mispriced opportunities and avoid overcrowded misopportunities that stem from the human tendencies to equate flashy popularity with excellence and have an active ratio of over 95% (vs the MSCI World Index). The portfolio companies are exceptional innovators and focused market leaders in their respective fields with unique, scalable, recurring-revenue and high-profitability business models delivering innovative products and services indispensable to our well-being in daily life and 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.
Not only do the H.E.R.O. innovators generate high profitability at the inflection point of their exponential growth trajectory, more importantly, they 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.
Participate in the Structural Growth Journey of Quiet Innovators: “Innovators” are companies that generate sales in technologically enabled new products and services that potentially transforms the way the world works. We seek to identify companies capitalizing on innovation in offering faster, cheaper, more productive, more cost effective, more compelling products and services, or that are enabling the further development of an innovation theme in the markets in which they operate.
Retail unit trust with daily liqudity and zero exit fees and an asset under management (AUM) of over S$30 million.
Achieve Sustainable Income Streams and Long-Term Capital Growth: Long-term impactful investment returns across market cycles are generated by identifying transformative and enduring forces of large magnitude of impact – and the companies, entrepreneurs & innovators leading them. This the only equities strategy in the market that focuses on both dividend yield and innovation-driven capital gain to enhance total shareholders’ returns. Invest in dividend-yielding stocks of stable, simple-to-understand, non-cyclical quality businesses who are resilient in economic downturns and generate sustainable long-term total shareholders’ return. Their intrinsic fundamental performance are less linked to broader economic conditions and are better equipped to weather unforeseen shocks to the economy or markets, thus offering structural mispricing opportunity and potential decorrelated returns.
Innovators Thrive in Stormy Times: Prepare and position a winning portfolio for a post-pandemic world with innovators who thrive in stormy times and transform crises and trauma into opportunities for the future. The coronavirus crisis has helped accelerate innovation and enhanced the leadership of innovators. Market positions are not redistributed during sunny and calm times, but during times of crisis. The pandemic crisis has changed the behavior of both consumers and businesses. Companies offering faster, cheaper, more productive, more cost effective, more compelling and innovative products and services gained significant share.
Avoid Cyclicals that May Not Be Resilient in Economic Downturns: This is the only dividend-yielding equities strategy in the market that is entirely not dependent on and with zero exposure to cyclicals (concentrated in economically-sensitive and rate-sensitive sectors such as financials, property & construction, energy & materials, industrials & capital equipment) that may not be resilient in economic downturns or to increases in interest rates.
Avoid Accounting Fraud & Misgovernance Risks: Application of proprietary forward-looking fact-based accounting fraud detection system that was pioneered and taught at the Singapore Management University, ranked top five in the world accounting rankings, and presented to the top management team of Singapore’s top financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), to mitigate downside risks which escape detection by typical western-based forensic tools.
Avoid Disrupted Cheap-Gets-Cheaper Yield- and Value Traps: Avoid legacy old profitable businesses and once-stable industries, where dividends are paid out, who are being increasingly disrupted (e.g. Kraft, Tesco).
Our Investment Process
Guided by the investment framework H.E.R.O., which stands for “Honorable. Exponential. Resilient. Organization.”: H.E.R.O. is operationalized into a 4-step investment process to identify the winners, to distinguish between the innovators and the imitators, between the devoted missionaries forging a greater Purpose and the mercenaries. . The framework consists of qualitative and quantitative research and assessments to select its investments:
Step 1: H – Honorable, High-Integrity, Solves High-Value Problem (mitigate risks of accounting fraud and misgovernance)
- Treatment of minority shareholders in corporate governance matters, shareholder structure and business group structure
- Purpose Quotient (PQ), focus and sense of urgency to build something with a purpose and commit to an idea larger than themselves to serve others
- Discipline and prudent stewardship in handling growth, capital allocation, power and wealth
- Hunger level – whether they are hungry with a sense of purpose to innovate and create new categories of growth, or have become contented, conservative or complacent
Step 2: E – Exponential (mitigate risks of “cheap-gets-cheaper value traps” who are vulnerable to disruption) in the business model quality
The proprietary “Catapult” qualitative framework of 4 exponential competitive edges is used to augment the Morningstar Economic Moat qualitative framework and business model quality analysis
- Curiosity Exponential Edge: Does the company create curiosity and discovery amongst the users and customers for its products and services?
- Circumspection Exponential Edge: Does the company deliver or enable circumspection with insights, intelligence, tools and analytics to help the customers think better and make better decisions?
- Community Exponential Edge: Does the company build a community where members can connect and interact repeatedly with one another to forge long-term relationship Vs transactions-based exchange?
- Compellingness-Craftsmanship Exponential Edge: Does the company create and deliver products, services or solutions with compellingness and craftsmanship? Process IP, intangible know-how & system and mastery to bring about comfort, convenience, “pain-killing” mission-critical solutions to customers
Step 3: R – Resilient (mitigate risks of businesses who are not resilient in economic downturns or recessions)
- Financial Resiliency: Healthy Return on Equity (ROE), Return on Asset (ROA) & operating cashflow, Strong balance sheet with low gearing or net-cash, Pricing power with healthy working capital dynamics
- Business Model Resiliency: Resilient recurring revenue streams, Proprietary/ Unique offerings and solutions, Capabilities in design knowhow, manufacture of mission-critical and innovative products in multiple applications, Attractive position in the value chain/ ecosystem without being dependent on suppliers or customers, Not constrained by sticky super-variable cost overheads in scaling up e.g. “SG&A (Selling, General & Admin) Expenses as % of Sales” declining even as sales increase?
Step 4: O – Organization (mitigate organizational & management risks)
- Corporate culture of decentralization, trust and cooperation to foster innovative experimentations.
- Treatment of human capital in the organization e.g. Employee & Management turnover, Growth in salary/ employee vs Growth in profit/ employee
Eliminating Accounting Fraud & Misgovernance Risks Which Escape Detection by Western-Based Forensic Tools
H.E.R.O. is unique in eliminating the downside risks from accounting tunneling fraud and misgovernance through unusual related-party transactions, consolidation accounting craftiness (opportunistic shifting of expenses and debt into unconsolidated entities), and hidden balance sheet liabilities at the wider pyramidal business group level etc., which escape detection by western-based forensic tools through a proprietary forward-looking fact-based accounting fraud detection system developed by KB.
For instance, prevalent across Asian companies, previously Big-4 audited “cash” in the balance sheet are often misclassified “cash equivalents” disguised from improper short-term related party loans employed by the insiders to expropriate or tunnel out cash from the company after initially propping up financial numbers artificially to create false positive signals to lure in funds.
Beyond MOAT to CATAPULT to Analyze Business Quality
Economic Moat: Coined by Warren Buffett in using the analogy of a defensive moat around the castle to depict the barrier-to-entries and competitive advantages of a company, and popularized by Morningstar, it is noteworthy that stocks are categorized into “moats” [(1) Network Effects, (2) Switching Costs, (3) Intangible Assets, (4) Efficient Scale, (5) Cost Advantage] after they are formed and more “obvious”. This informs us less about the leading indicators and messy process , where the bulk of the value creation happens, that leads to the moat categorization.
CATAPULT: The catapult is used as an analogy to illustrate the attack-oriented sustainable competitive advantages of disruptive innovators overpowering the moats of legacy business models. CATAPULT is a framework going beyond economic moat to analyze business model quality with systematic observations and leading-indicator questions to ask in portfolio companies. Do you observe the CATAPULT in action in your portfolio companies? Is there an Exponential Edge in your portfolio companies? Can you identify which of the 4Cs in Exponential Edges that they command?
TOMRA SYSTEMS ASA
Case Study: Quiet Innovators Making Our World Greener & More Sustainable
Global #1 Leader and the Largest Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) Provider in Advanced Collection and Sensor-Based Sorting Solutions for Automated Collection of Used Beverage Containers
TOMRA’s network of over 84,100 reverse vending machines (RVMs) installed, 11,000 food sorters, 163 mining sorters and 6,460 recycling systems across more than 60 countries worldwide, facilitates the return of more than 40 billion empty cans and bottles annually, which represent only less than 3% of all beverage containers annually. TOMRA’s RVMs help avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually equivalent to the emissions from 2 million cars, each driving 10,000 kilometres.
Delivering Positive Impact on UN SDG Goal 12 – Sustainable Consumption & Production: From purpose into profits and profits into progress, TOMRA is transforming what it means to be resourceful in leading the resource revolution with its mission to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity. TOMRA’s collecting and sorting technologies have a significant positive impact on the world and address major environmental challenges like climate change and plastic waste with innovative solutions for a greener tomorrow.
TOMRA’s dominant installed base and stable collection network and tech-based solutions helped keep 17 millions of tons of CO₂ from being released into the atmosphere in 2019. More than 40 billion used beverage containers are captured every year through TOMRA’s reverse vending machines. TOMRA’s RVMs avoid GHG emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions from 2m cars, each driving 10,000 kilometres. TOMRA’s steam peelers process 15 million tons of potatoes per year with a 1% yield improvement over other alternatives. Around 715,000 tons of metal are recovered every year by TOMRA’s metal recycling machines, equivalent to 4,031 Boeing 747s.
TOMRA is also the global #1 leader in food sorting and mining sorting. (1) TOMRA is a leading provider of optical sorting and processing technology for the fresh and processed food industries to increase agricultural yields and reduce food losing along production and supply chains, with over 10,000 installations globally. TOMRA’s advanced sorting system inspects millions of individual produce pieces per hour, typically recovering 5-10% through higher yields and better utilization. (2) In mining, TOMRA provides a complete product portfolio for efficient material separation in various mineral and ore applications such as processing of industrial minerals, diamond and gemstone recovery, and metal recovery from slag. The mining industry consumes 2%-3% of the world’s energy just for crushing and milling – equal to that of global aviation traffic. 15-50% of the run of mine (ROM) can be rejected in an early stage of the process and these low-grade waste rocks don’t need to be transported, crushed, grinded or further treated. TOMRA’s sensor-based sorters can reduce the volume to be crushed by 15%-40% in specific mines resulting in significant savings.
TOMRA is also the world’s largest manufacturer of vertical balers and an industry leader in compaction and baling solutions, with an installed base of approximately 65,000 balers for recyclable materials that leads to overall lower waste handling costs of up to 50%, making waste management more efficient and more profitable. TOMRA’s vertical balers enable daily savings of 45,000 transport movements, which saves 700,000 liters of fuel.
Community Edge – Dominant installed base of RVMs and stable collection network and tech-based solutions grows exponentially stronger with network effect and mobile app engagement to increase participation, engagement & customer stickiness in driving volume growth: TOMRA has two business models in RVMs with proven track record: (1) Sales & Service model in which the retailer purchases and takes the ownership of the RVM and TOMRA provides services; and (2) Throughout model in which TOMRA owns and operates the RVM and receives a fee per container handled by the RVM, with swift roll-out and generates recurring revenue. In its throughput markets, TOMRA delivers a convenient and engaging recycling experience for consumers that increase the participation and engagement and drive volume through its installations, including via its mobile app myTOMRA to keep track of recycling rewards and share stories to inspire change.
Circumspection Edge – Leveraging Data Generated to Unlock New Opportunities in Food Sorting Business: TOMRA has established the broadest footprint within food sorting with over 150+ applications. It is leveraging upon the data generated by TOMRA through the value chain (Processed food for Retail/FMCG: Harvesting, Processing; Fresh produce for E-Commerce: At source packing, Repacking) to serve multiple purposes: (1) Improved farming, (2) Uniform quality, (3) Determine taste, ripeness and defects, (4) Increase yield, (5) Reduce food waste, (6) Traceability, (7) Optimise storage, (8) Maximise use. Its new sensor technologies will unlock new opportunities, from measuring visual appearance to measuring internal defects, taste, shelf life/freshness, and food hazards.
Compellingness-Craftsmanship Edge – Technological Leadership With Accumulated Know-How in Sensor-Based Tech Portfolio to Continuously Develop New Innovative Application: TOMRA possesses the most advanced and comprehensive sensor-based tech portfolio developed and accumulated over the years in electromagnetic sensor (EM), LED spectrometry, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR), visible light spectrometry (VIS), X-ray transmission (XRT), laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), infrared transmission (IRT), IR camera, color camera, laser reflection/fluorescence. After the feeding of unsorted material, TOMRA’s high-tech sensors identify objects and its product-specific designs include multiple technologies to maximize sorting efficiency, including high-speed processing of information to detect and remove a wide range of parameters by material, shape, size, color, blemishes, structure, density, defects, damage, biometric characteristics, foreign material (insects, worms, snails, plastics in food applications) and location of objects, as well as detox in removal of contaminated produce with aflatoxin. Examples of cross-utilization of its sensor technologies include field potato sorter in which its NIR technology allows efficient removal of rocks, dirt and rotten potatoes before the potatoes are stored. The solution opens up sorting of unwashed potatoes in a way that previously was not possible. In mining, its laser technology allows detection of quartz of all colors. This opens for sorting of quartz itself, and gold bearing quartz mineralization. The solution is unique in the market and further underlines TOMRA’s technological leadership.
Purpose Quotient (PQ) & Corporate Culture: A spirit of entrepreneurship, a passion for innovation, from the world’s first RVM to the first high-capacity optical spectroscopy sorter, and a focus on finding solutions guide TOMRA to this day. What started as a task for a single store has become a mission that encircles the globe: “Everything we do is based on one overriding concern: creating solutions for optimization of the earth’s resources.”
Nearly forty years ago in 1972, in a small shed in Asker, Norway, two brothers, Petter and Tore Planke, started working to find a solution to a problem: a local grocer wanted a machine that could quickly and easily take back empty bottles. Intrigued, the brothers said they could build one, TOMRA started out with the design, manufacturing and sale of the world’s first reverse vending machines (RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers. In 1971, Petter, who had been working in the supermarket industry as a salesman of labeling and price-marking equipment, was approached with a problem by one of Oslo’s leading supermarket owners, Aage Fremstad. Petter recalls, “One day Aage Fremstad asked me to come to his office to discuss a problem he was having. He said, ‘Petter, please help me, we’re drowning in empty bottles. There has got to be a better way of handling the return of empty bottles than the way we are doing it.’”
At that time, Tore, an engineer, was working on the development of the world’s first fully automated navigation systems for supertankers at the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (SINTEF). In his free time, he began looking at Mr. Fremstad’s problem with empty bottles. Tore’s involvement in cutting-edge microelectronics combined with his training in mechanical design proved to be a perfect match for the development of an automated system for the return of empty bottles. After a series of meetings with supermarket owners and bottlers, Petter and Tore had gathered the information they would use to form a product specification for the design of a prototype. What Tore and Petter were hearing from the supermarket industry was basically this: they wanted a machine that had one hole that could be used for the return of all bottles and a printer that could print out a receipt indicating the total refund amount of the bottles returned.
A major breakthrough for TOMRA was when in 1974, the Swedish entity Systembolaget ordered 100 RVMs. In 1982, TOMRA achieved a breakthrough in the German market thanks to the launch of the first fully automated crate recognition machine based on a TOMRA-developed ultrasonic sound measuring system. In 1990-91, TOMRA rolls out the second generation of automatic crate-recognition machines, this time, based on a new TOMRA-designed laser measuring technology. In 2001, RVM speed dramatically increases thanks to TOMRA’s invention of single-chamber recognition. TOMRA’s sensor-based sorting technology business was first established in 2004 with the acquisition of TiTech Visionsort AS, a provider of optical recognition and sorting technology for the waste industry.
What Our Logo Stands For
“The Vitruvian Man”
Our logo, depicting the Vitruvian Man created by Leonardo da Vinci, symbolizes the innovator’s quiet quest in the multidisciplinary approach in combining science, art, technology, humanities, passionate curiosity, careful observation, and imagination as the enduring recipe for infinite creativity and perennial success. The square represents science and innovation; the circle represents humanitarian service; and the triangle represents the art and practice of value investing in an innovation era and exponential world, having an eye to capture pattern and symmetry. Conjoining components of both geometric figures in the H.E.R.O. Innovator & Value 3.0 Investor is the center of the scientific square as the apex (the how), and the circle of humanitarian service as the base and foundation (the Big Why & Greater Purpose larger than oneself). The harmonious proportional relationship and equilibrium of elements ensures a stable and everlasting structure and health.
The innovators who pursue their vision have had to endure something difficult, something trying. As we walk our path to fulfil our purpose, we will inevitably have disappointments that knock us down. However difficult, being able to see what is ahead unleashes the ability to persevere and prevail.
When asked for his secret, Leonardo da Vinci would characteristically respond with the phrase he conceived and adopted as his personal motto: Sapere vedere. The phrase combines the Latin “sapere”, which means knowing how, and “vedere”, which means to see. Sapere vedere is knowing how to see. People with sapere vedere look forward as well as inward; they are capable of believing and seeing what others don’t. Knowing how to see, is crucial to living a life of significance.
And Purpose is an all-important ingredient for sapere vedere. Once we know our Purpose, we become pathfinders. Knowing what we want to do dictates where we go and where we put our focus. Our path is the way we travel. Our vision is where we travel. Our Purpose is why we travel. Da Vinci said, “May your work be in keeping with your Purpose.” The philosophy places the emphasis on ongoing and enduring contribution.
“The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”
Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is one of the most recognizable works of Japanese art in the world. Completed in 1831, it’s Hokusai’s most famous work. What you might not know is that it took him nearly 30 years to paint it. Hokusai spent decades iterating on his masterpiece, including various attempts at what finally became “The Great Wave.”
In following the progression of “The Great Wave,” Hokusai’s dedication and increasing control of the medium is evident. Hidden within his famous painting is the same intangible quality shared by all of the world’s greatest achievements in art, music, writing, sports, and technology: mastery. The path to mastery is available to all of us. With enough effort and persistence, achieving greatness in a chosen field is within reach. We can capture genius and direct our focus and attention to a singular aim that brings both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
Mastery requires concerted and long-term effort for which genius or giftedness provide no substitute. In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene makes this distinction clear: “Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.” George Leonard, in his book Mastery, provides a definition that emphasizes a process: “Mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”
Scouring Accounting Footnotes to Prevent Tunnelling
The Business Times, 19th August 2015
Framework needed to tackle insiders’ stealing of corporate wealth.
IMAGINE that the S-chip (Singapore·listed China stocks) fraud with its “missing cash phenomenon” and the penny stock scandal never happened – because there was a way to prevent them.
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Reforming Corporate Governance
The Business Times, 25 November 2010
CORPORATE governance, as elucidated by leading finance researchers Andrei Schleifer and Robert Vishny, “deals with the ways in which suppliers of finance to corporations assure themselves of getting a return on their investment. How do they make sure that managers do not steal the capital they supply or invest in bad projects?”
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The secret to business resilience: Be like the bamboo, not the oak
TODAY, 8th April 2013
“Singapore is too small and its talent pool is too small to produce a world-class manufacturing giant of the Fortune 500 class,” Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said. A cryptic remark, indeed, because it does not imply that he thinks Singapore cannot produce knowledge-based giants, or resilient “bamboo innovators”“
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Creating ‘Bamboo Innovators’ in Singapore
The Straits Times, 1st April 2013
“Can my kid watch how you milk cows?”
“Can my kid see how you print the newspaper?”
These were questions asked by Israeli inventor and entrepreneur Gil Shwed’s mother when she took him on educational “adventure trips” when he was young..
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Lion Infrastructure is the way to go
The Business Times, 30th December 2010
Mission not tmposdbb: Singapore has been a powetful magnet for global capitalJlows and MNCs. VIft can cultivata 20 $100 billion companies and 50 $20-billion uwnpaniss of Don dbre fn the next 50 years. Q $2 trillion GDP economy may well be achievable
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管理狮城的狮子企业家 The Power of Vision
Lianhe Zaobao, 9th August 2010
Business Times, 15 May 2010
What do Berkshire Hathaway – the US$180 billion insurance, industrial and consumer conglomerate that billionaire Warren Buffett skillfully crafted – and Singapore have in common?
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Empirical Research Paper
Why ‘Democracy’ and ‘Drifter’ Firms Can Have Abnormal Returns: The Joint Importance of Corporate Governance and Accounting Quality in Separating Winners from Losers
– Published in the Special Issue of Istanbul Stock
Exchange 25th Year Anniversary Best Paper Competition of the Boğaziçi Journal,
Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Vol. 25(1): 3-55.
– Presented in the 23rd Australasian Finance and Banking Conference in Sydney, 15-17 Dec 2010
Abstract: Do managers exercise accounting discretion in an opportunistic or efficient manner? Good governance structures, which mitigates agency costs, are necessary to ensure that the accounting information supplied by management is not opportunistically manipulated. The output of quality accoutning information, in turn, serves as an input to better governance structures. Thus, governance and earnings quality (EQ) are inexorably linked through a complementarity relationship. This suggests two previously unexamined relationships. Overall, the results highlight the joint importance of governance and abnornal accruals in contributing to the total information environment to separate winners from losers.Continue Reading (PDF)
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.
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.
Feedback From My Students At The Singapore Management University
I am fortunate to have the chance in helping the students to acquire the required technical accounting competencies and sharing with them the importance of sharpening their critical thinking skills and embracing the right values and ethics over the course of my teaching as a full-time faculty member at the School of Accountancy, Singapore Management University. Some kind feedback from the students include:
“I am writing to show my gratitude for Prof Kee Koon Boon for his outstanding teaching. As a graduating student in SMU and through my four years education in SMU, Prof Kee is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable lecturers/professors that SMU has.. I cannot emphasize how important is this module to accounting and finance professionals. There have been widespread media reports on accounting fraud scandals in China-based companies. To put it across bluntly, these reports are ex-post and the harm has been done. What the public needs is ex-ante reports to identify these potential accounting frauds. Despite me getting A+ for Financial Accounting module, Management Accounting module and Corporate Reporting & Financial Analysis module, it never occurred to me to judge the accounting numbers beyond their face value. This module has brought great insights to me through the various methods taught to detect accounting fraud. For SMU to continue producing excellent financial professionals, this module on Accounting Fraud should be expanded to take in a larger amount of students genuinely interested in this subject.”
“I was moved into writing this letter of appreciation letter for Professor Kee Koon Boon for his work done for the module Accounting Fraud in Asia. This module.. will undeniably be one of the most useful course SMU undergraduates will find themselves taking.. his exemplary teaching quality and methods will continue to help nurture graduates with an edge who will be highly sought after by corporations. What Prof Kee is teaching is vitally important, because most accounting systems today are focused on post-mortem fraud, investors today are not equipped with the vital skill of fraud detection ex-ante.. His constant encouragement.. shows his deep concern for our core growth and maturity, not just in terms of academic development and technical skills, but also in terms of our character development and desire to do good for society. He is truly an educator and a teacher, in every sense.”
“There is no thread of doubt that we are learning highly proprietary and beneficial stuff from you and the goodness is beginning to take shape in us slowly. These seeds once sown will grow further with time and I must thank you for showing us to the gates of this new realm and equipping us with the necessary weapons to outlast if not conquer the Asian Capital Jungle eventually. Beyond these, having been through 7.5 semesters with just 5 weeks of SMU life remaining, I must tell you that I count myself really fortunate to have taken your class right before leaving school. I must honestly say that you are the most enthusiastic Prof I’ve met in school and just like the video of the Chinese singer you showed us in class, your great work shines through and has inspired me a lot. Beyond technicalities, it has taught me to be really really thorough in the pursuit for excellence, esp as a young entrant into the financial industry. Your class contains the most practical wisdom compared to other mods in SMU and all this are what ‘true value’ in education really mean.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed your lessons so far. In fact your lessons are something that I look forward to during the week. After working in the hedge fund industry for 8 months last year, I find that it is really rare for someone like you to come out and share your insights and experiences with the world, or even to undergraduates like us without expecting anything in return. I truly admire your spirit and generosity that is similar to that of Benjamin Graham or Bruce Greenwald, reputable masters in their own rights. The learning goes beyond the classroom, and the website is a great tool for students and the general investing public to learn as well. At the end of the day, what really matters is how much value you have added in this world. For that, I believe your work has benefited many of the enthusiastic students in class and have educated investors who are keen to invest in Asia but are looking to arm themselves with background knowledge to finesse their way through the Asian capital jungle.”
“Right on the cusp of entering the working world, we are thoroughly grateful to be on this journey with you. And I say this in a continual manner because I’m certain our journey doesn’t end here. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge with the class. Thank you for your passion in uncovering fraudulent activities for the good of investors and the quest for rightness. Thank you for your being the genuine spirit that you are, truly committing yourself to the noble cause of educating us and leading us along with you in the pursuit wisdom and character.”
“Thank you for your passion and guidance during the past 4 months. Through this course, I was able to see the various ways accounting fraud can be perpetuated in Asian society. I indeed have a greater awareness of my own shortcomings and have a clearer sense of direction on which career path I should choose in future – to avoid being swayed towards greed and worldly pleasures but instead lead a life of sufficiency, gratefulness and service.”
“I am touched by your spirit and passion, so keep this teaching style spirit going and impact more students! With that, I would like to thank you for the sharing session from interview to fraud class lessons as well as thank you for leading me in finding the energy of myself.”
“Besides the technical skills and knowledge, I think there are other aspects of my life that you “value add” to. For example, how to persevere and be positive, how to “hold on together” so that “our dreams will never die”. These are values which other professors will not share. You are one of the most dedicated, hardworking and “on the ball” professors that I have come across.“
“Thank you for the effort and dedication in the materials & speakers you have provided for us! I have learnt knowledge that have been picked up from valued experiences from yourself as well as speakers like Mr Hemant Amin, knowledge that I would not be able to amass unless through the course. I am thankful to have taken Accounting Fraud because you have taught us values together with knowledge. A compass that will continue to guide us in our journey.”
“Prof Kee is very friendly prof. He makes an effort to get to know each student and is genuinely interested in the conversations of us students. He is also very knowledgeable and passionate about learning. His sincerity is heartwarming and he is a good role model for students. Thank you Prof Kee!”
“The instructor is very dedicated to his job… He also has great experience and insights into current issues and always tries to bring them into context with what we are learning.”
“… willing to share his insights into different subject matters and let us think deeper into what is taught to us.”
“… a very caring and understanding professor who takes the effort to encourage students – concepts learnt can be readily applicable to the working world”.
“… a very responsible and helpful professor who is willing to share his insights to the class. He is also extremely knowledgeable in many aspects and there is a lot to learn from him.”
“Patient, kind, caring and considerate of individual, special needs of students. Always warm and approachable.”
“Prof Kee has inspired me with his enthusiasm in learning and the vast knowledge that he possessed. He was very willing to share his wisdom with us and is definitely a great teacher.”
Connect With Us
KEE Koon Boon (“KB”) | Email: [email protected] | WhatsApp: +65 9695-1860
KEE Koon Boon (“KB”)
Co-founder & CEO
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 equity fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company and 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 full-time faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Detecting Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful 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.