The Pacific Rim adventure continues on January 15th from Singapore. It began at 9:00 AM when half of the group attempted to locate the Pimco office building. An hour later, we finally found the building. There we met with the Director and Senior Vice President of Pimco Asia, Bransby Whitton; Account Analyst, Clement Tan; and Account Associate, Gerald Koh. Mr. Whitton and his associates gave a brief lecture on their roles within the company and the culture which exists in Asia; as well as the intricate relationship between United States and China. Mr. Whitton explained how he is responsible for operating the entire office, which offers financial account management for large institutions. Unlike most of the other meetings, the lecture was kept incredibly short and a Q&A quickly developed. During this less formal discussion much was learned. Mr. Whitton discussed the main reason the office in Singapore was primarily established to capture the business of the incredibly large investment fund of the Singapore government. This was the first Pimco office based overseas. As a result of this move, Pimco has developed a strong relationship with the Singaporean government and now has an advisor relationship with the government. This relationship is one of Pimco’s primary objectives for all of its customers.
Following this information, Mr. Whitton began to tell us about the strict regulations the company must comply with, since they are based out of the United States and are regulated by the SEC. Unlike America, in Singapore and other Asian countries, businesses have less regulation and are based more on relationships and influence. Another major difference of business in this country is having to deal with mandatory military service all male Singaporeans. Mr. Tan and Mr. Koh, talked in great detail about how their mandatory service affected the decisions they made about education and careers. For example Mr. Koh decided to attend Purdue University immediately following high school, but was required to provide the government with a large bond to insure his return post completion of a college education. Mr. Tan on the other hand went directly into the two year, required, military service and obtained a college education following his service. Both men, along with all other Singaporean males are required to participate in the reserves unit, until age 35. This service entails two to four weeks of training each year, consequently removing men from the workforce during the training period. It seems as if the training schedules are dispersed, allowing some of the workforce to remain and cover their colleagues workload.
After our meeting with Mr. Whitton, the other half of the group came to the Pimco office and participated in the same meeting. We were forced to split up due to the small amount of space in the board room. The group gathered again around 1 PM to make our way to the airport. The trip to Vietnam was uneventful. Upon our arrival, the group was given free time to explore the wonderful city of Hanoi. Upon landing in Hanoi, we all knew we were in for quite a culture shock. The city streets were filled with thousands of scooters weaving in and out of traffic. It seems as if lanes and direction of travel are merely a suggestion for the scooter drivers. We saw numerous drivers traveling in the opposite direction of oncoming traffic. Aside from the erratic driving patterns of the locals, the food was yet again a significant culture shock. The restaurants had options varying from abalone to shark fin. Our tour guide made sure to tell us about all of the exotic foods we will come across while in Vietnam. Some of those choices included king cobra snake, duck web, and even water buffalo. Looks like a lot of us are going to be kind of hungry this week, unless we can find a McDonalds or KFC. Now we are off to Halong Bay to spend the night on a Junk boat.
Our Meeting at Pimco
Traffic in Hanoi
Mingling with the locals
(Posted by Andy Matz and Alex Della-Penna)