Over the past three years, we have welcomed numerous adventurous young people hailing from renowned universities around the world into our club. In this issue, we have invited Jonathan Poh and Rebecca Yang, members who just joined us last year, to find out how they feel about Z Club.
Jonathan Poh: Z Club is for everyone
Jonathan has a diverse background, and his university experience was, in a sense, full of twists and turns. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he studied in Tsinghua University and majored in industrial engineering. However, due to the pandemic’s disruption, Jonathan's studies were seriously affected. Hence, he transferred to Singapore Management University to pursue a degree in finance.
In light of his experiences, Jonathan truly cherishes the opportunity that Z Club offers to interact with outstanding students from all over the world. Jonathan is currently the co-chair of Z Club International Chapter after having been a member of Z Club for one year, as well as the Assistant Portfolio Manager (APM) of Team Icho. Let's hear a bit more about his experiences with Z Club.
Singapore Management University
“I am a student of Singapore Management University, and I previously lived in Beijing for 2 years.”
Reporter Z: Could you please share with us why you joined Z Club?
Jonathan: The opportunity for me to join our club first came through the introduction by the Club co-founder Tiffany, which gave me a preliminary understanding of the club. But the main reason why I wanted to join the club was that its very difficult to find peers who are also learning about investments, especially to find friends who have the same values in the process. In our club we are able to take the long-term value-investing approach, to focus more on the quality of companies rather than focusing on making quick money, and I feel that this value-investing approach is a cornerstone of the club.
There are lots of investors, and investment clubs exist both in Tsinghua University and other universities, but it is very rare to find people who have the same ideas and concepts as I do.
Reporter Z: Your team did very well last year, could you share your thoughts?
Jonathan: One of our main targets last year was China's 21Vianet. The Chinese market has an advantage over others, just looking at the breakdown of 21Vianet’s products by region, the United States accounted for 40%, China accounted for 8%, the UK accounted for 6% and Japan 7%. There is a lot of room for growing this 8% accounted by China to catch up with the US, through developing digital infrastructure. The country’s policy push for new infrastructure also allows for structural growth–––the accelerated development of the digital economy is going to cause demand for digital infrastructure to surge further. So the Internet industry is highly attractive and favourable for 21Vianet and the company’s room for growth is huge.
Furthermore, the reason why we chose this company rather than its competitors was largely due to our confidence in its management, particularly how they have changed their strategy from growing their resale of telecoms capacity and last mile fixed broadband services, to focusing on IDC ramp up in Tier 1 cities and transitioning to a retail+wholesale model. 21Vianet’s main competitor, GDS, is currently valued at 2.5 times of 21Vianet in terms of TEV/EBITDA. But in terms of value, we don't think GDS is better. Therein lies the appeal of investing –––we believe that we are always seeking value. We think China’s IDC market will undergo consolidation and 21Vianet’s competitive advantages and altered strategy will result in significant growth for the company.
Reporter Z: Could you share more about your team!
Jonathan: All our team members excel in their own areas of expertise. What’s even more valuable is that we have a culture where we’re able to tacitly understand and compelement each other, and that we’re also all genuinely willing to learn from other people. Every month, apart from regular updates over the phone, we also pay close attention to industry or company news. When companies undergo new changes, we would rush to send text messages to other members to examine the impact of the company’s fundamentals. Our teammates feel more like good old friends than work colleagues.
Reporter Z: That all sounds great. Could you share with us some of your highlights in the club?
Jonathan: It may be hard for me to identify a specific highlight, but my favorite moment is when our members from different backgrounds come together to hold discussions on a shared topic, ask questions, share their thoughts, and even be challenged by each other. It is a very fulfilling and satisfying experience when people with different ideas are very interested in the same valuable thing.
Reporter Z: Can you share more about the biggest progress you’ve made since joining the club?
Jonathan: I think it's my ability to manage people, which has never been something that I was interested in. Personally, I'm more interested in looking at companies and industries than people, but when I become a member of the management committee, I had to learn to do things like organize events from the other people’s perspectives. I feel like I'm slowly moving away from being a pure analyst to a more multi-faceted individual.
Reporter Z: Which activity of the Club do you find the most rewarding?
Jonathan: I think that must be our Meet the Investor activites. Rebecca, our other Co-chair, and I always hope that we can help our members build high quality network through such activities.
Reporter Z: I suppose you must have a lot of future expecations for our club?
Jonathan: My latest ambition is to recruit new members who have a real passion for investment, life and learning.
Reporter Z: Do you have any words to share with those who want to sign up?
Jonathan: In my opinion, Z Club is really an organization for everyone. Every member who devotes their time and energy to the club will definitely get more than what they put in.
Reporter Z: Wow, thank you for holding the club to such high regard. How would you rate your performance in the club in the past year?
Jonathan: I think it might be kind of hard for me to give myself a rating, but I guess I could rate my co-chair. Hahaha
Reporter Z: You mean Rebecca?
Jonathan: Yes, I hope I can give her full marks. She is very conscientious and enthusiastic about her work.
"I am a Singaporean, but growing up I lived in China for many years. I like playing badminton, listening to music, walking my dog, and watching documentaries and movies."
Rebecca Yang: Z club has given me more courage
Rebecca, like Jonathan, is a Co-Chair in the International Chapter, and their career plans had undergone a dramatic change because of the opportunity to join Z Club. Let's listen to her story!
Reporter Z: Could you tell me your reasons for joining the club？
Rebecca: The reason why I joined the club at beginning was also through the introduction of Tiffany, our founder, who happens to be my senior from junior high school, senior high school and university. A recruitment post that she shared in a university alumni chat made me very curious about investing. I’m now a rising sophomore in the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. I think the relationship between the club and my career development is a mutually beneficial one. In a sense, the manga “Investor Z” and the club was the beginning of my interest in equity research.
Reporter Z: Thank you for sharing. I wonder if you could share more about the equity research you have done in the past year?
Rebecca: I think I can share some of my thoughts on Disney. Back in March this year, and even now, the market is not all that optimistic about Disney. It is understandable, after all, because Disney’s parks and resorts were all heavily affected by Covid-19 closures, and there’s always been some uncertainty surrounding the potential of their streaming business.
But we have been looking at Disney from another point of view, and we believe that Disney has critical advantages in terms of their IP/content and production experience. We also believe that compared to competitors like Netflix, Disney biggest advantage is its ability and understanding of how to make classics, things that people feel very sentimental about, and this sentimental value is very important. Disney's different business segments are also highly interconnected, and in our analysis we were definitley more focused on the synergies brought about by its streaming business and content innovation.
Looking at the external environment, we are still optimistic about global vaccination efforts and how quickly progress can be made. In fact, since the first half of this year, theme parks around the world have gradually entered a state of limited opening, and we were surprised to see in their annual reports that despite a reduced number of visitors, average revenue per guest has increased.
Reporter Z: Wow, that sounds interesting! As a young investor, in what way did you benefit the most in the past year?
Rebecca: Haha, I think that I am more confident and braver to “invest in myself”. In our club, every day we’ll run into things that we’ve never done before or find challenging, but there's really no need to be afraid, because Z Club always has lots of people who are willing to help us learn, be it stock picking, valuation and so on.
For example, when I first joined our team, I hadn’t gotten round to taking corporate finance courses at school nor had I previously tried learning technical analysis on my own. But it was during the process of learning and applying what I learned to the work I did in our club that I understood how to do valuations and combine the art of science of investing.
So I really hope that people won't worry about facing challenges, take up opportunities when you have a chance, just give it a go and don't think too much. And I believe that new members will find that, be it in the club or other environments, everyone tends to be very hungry and proactive, willing to participate and wants to try things, so we should also take the initiative to seize opportunities!
Reporter Z: You just mentioned learning and helping each other with your team partners. Can you share with us how your teammates work with one another?
Rebecca: Of course. Our teammembers are based in Singapore, so even in the case of the pandemic, its been easier for us to meet up or communicate since we’re geographically close to each other. For example my teammate Matthew, who joined the club the same time I did, although we don’t have the same level of experience, we can often share our views about the company and industry together, so that we can learn a lot from each other... I think this is the essence of our club, we can see members with common values but diverse backgrounds in every cohort, which not only helps diversify our opinions but also gives our club a very comfortable, cooperative atmosphere.
Reporter Z: Thank you for your contributions to the club! What kind of expectations to you have for our club in the future?
Rebecca: What I have benefitted a lot from over the past year is listening to how other people analyze stocks and present their research every month. Its really impressive that everyone has that ability to pitch stocks and present confidently, and its been a pleasure to listen to these really driven, intelligent and well-read individuals. In the future, I hope more people will contribute their views and ideas so that there are more opportunities to learn from each other.
Therefore, I also hope that our club can give more people a platform to do this. At the same time, I hope everyone has a sense of belonging and participation in our club, so that we can create a better community!
Reporter Z: What would you like to tell those who are interested to join Z Club?
Rebecca: I have three thoughts. Firstly, don't be afraid that you don't have much experience. Just make sure you are interested in investing and investing in your life. Give yourself the room to try and make mistakes, its important to have the courage to put yourself in such a position; Secondly, I also hope that the students who have applied can realize that Z Club is a very precious opportunity, we really shouldn’t take all the opportunities for granted, and we should always be prepared to contribute and participate in various activities.
Thirdly, and finally, I personally hope to recruit more girls, especially those from non-business/finance majors.
Reporter Z: Thank you very much for your encouragement! By the way, how would you rate Jonathan?
Rebecca: I think I will also give him 10 points. I’m hoping to organize more activities together in the coming year!
Reporter Z: It seems that our two Co-Chairs have full confidence in the new year! This brings us to the end of the interview. We look forward to what Z Club will achieve next!