Six-month review with Rui Hua Chang of ESR Cayman
HAS THE JOB LIVED UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS SO FAR?
It has been an exciting six months. I recall diving straight into the IPO process once I joined and it was like going into a 10-meter deep pool with multiple moving parts. The amazing thing is that the ESR team embraced me immediately and we worked together perfectly. This spirit of teamwork is what I have been looking for and I have certainly found it in ESR. Another reason to join ESR is the can do spirit the team has. This was evident during the uncertain and challenging market conditions last year in Hong Kong, when we pressed ahead with the IPO despite the headwinds. The whole process certainly enabled the management to forge deep working relationships and everyone enjoyed the sweet success of bringing ESR to the next level as a listed company.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
My typical day starts with monitoring the public markets by looking at ESR’s share price and how our peers and the market are doing. I will also go through some of the research analysts’ reports and capital markets news to keep track of any announcements or changes to target prices or outlook. As the IR department serves as an important interface for both public and private investors, I also need to answer their queries. At ESR, we have an open policy for investors to email questions to us. My team then co-ordinates and responds accordingly. I am currently looking into fundraising in China so I keep in touch with regulators and institutional investors in China regarding the latest updates and their investment interests. Fund management is one of the pillars of ESR’s business, hence consistent communication with institutional investors is crucial, particularly in such a volatile environment.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE – AND THE BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT – IN THE JOB SO FAR?
The biggest challenge is the current uncertainty in the market – and this is something we cannot control. In these challenging times, it is important for investor relations to be consistent and clear in our messages to the public. In fact, my strategy is to contact the research analysts and major investors first to see whether they have any concerns, even before they call me up. It is also important to keep communication ongoing and not be perceived as hiding any information. Stakeholders are generally appreciative of the ESR management team's openness when it comes to sharing non-price-sensitive information and guiding them.
GIVEN THESE CHALLENGES, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS HELPED MOST IN THE ROLE SO FAR?
My past experiences as an investment banker and my stint at CapitaLand have both served me well. Being an exbanker provided me with the breadth of investor contacts and the skill of positioning the company’s investment thesis and story to investors. My sector knowledge for real estate was further deepened when I spent five years in CapitaLand’s headquarters in Singapore and subsequently two years in China doing fund-raising and corporate finance deals. During those seven years, I acquired and built on the basics of four key asset classes in real estate – residential, office, shopping malls and serviced apartments – and that really helped to lay the foundation. When I joined ESR, which specializes in logistics and is the number one Asia-Pacific-focused player, it was a natural move and a further extension of my knowledge of the real estate sector, which I found very fulfilling.
This article appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of IR Magazine