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A Merger Made at Marshall

Partnership forged at USC yields stratospheric success

February 09, 2018
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For some people, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. For Hugo Chan ’11 and Wei-Ting Huang ’10, what happened in Vegas went global, eventually turning into a thriving marriage and an up-and-coming value investment management company with more than $230 million in assets under management and unlimited upside potential.

Chan and Huang, both USC Marshall undergraduates pursuing dual degrees in business administration and accounting, were in many of the same classes, but it took a mutual friend’s birthday celebration in Sin City for them to meet. The pair immediately hit it off, and started dating shortly after returning to Los Angeles.

Today, the couple – having wed in 2014 – is based in Shanghai and leveraging their USC Marshall education to great effect. Their flagship fund, run out of Kingsferry Capital, the firm they founded less than two years ago, is making waves across China: In its first 12 months, the fund achieved an 88 percent return, making it number one in the Asia Pacific region and number five worldwide among all equity strategies hedge funds.

Chan and Huang’s remarkable accomplishment owes a debt to what they call “thinking contrarian.”

“If you’re doing what everyone else does, you’re going to get the same result,” Chan says. “If you don’t want to be just average, you need to diverge—to be different. This is a challenge because humans are social beings who naturally orient toward others, so being contrarian, whether in investing or in life, takes patience, conviction and hard work.”

The Fundamental Things Apply

It also takes a solid grounding in business fundamentals, for which Chan credits USC Marshall. “Our undergraduate courses provided a good balance of theory and practice. The case studies we did offered important insights into how the theories we learned in class could be utilized in the real world.”

Chan, a native of Hong Kong, and Huang, who grew up in Singapore, were attracted to USC Marshall because of its strong reputation and top ranking in their chosen disciplines. “My dad, who runs a successful metal recycling business with operations in China, Malaysia and the U.S., always taught me that understanding accounting concepts is key to managing a profitable business,” Huang recalls. “When I was applying to schools, USC Marshall was a natural fit.”

The couple has ambitious goals for Kingsferry, which they hope to turn into one of the world’s largest value-oriented investment managers. “China’s young equity markets are dominated by retail investors who are focused on hot tips and short-term pops,” Chan notes. “Our objective is to promote the idea of investing in high-quality companies and patiently compound capital for the long run.”

Chan and Huang know they won’t reach their destination overnight, but they are in it for the long haul and take comfort in knowing they have each other to rely on.

“Working together as business partners continues to enhance our relationship,” Chan says. “We are closer to each other than ever before, and we can read each other’s minds. My wife is the best partner I could ever have asked for.”