ST July 11, 2006I don't really have any insightful analysis to offer for this article. I decided to post it anyway because it's quite rare to have a senior GIC official publicly say anything about GIC at all. GIC is a highly secretive organisation.
GIC aims to broaden portfolio: Tony Tan
By ST Interactive reporter, Jermyn Chow
THE Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), which manages Singapore's reserves, will put more money into emerging markets, private equity and hedge funds to broaden its portfolio of more than US$100 billion.
GIC Deputy Chairman and Executive Director, Dr Tony Tan, singled out China and India, as the two emerging power houses that will see the greatest economic transformation this century.
Their potential areas of investment, as well as those of Southeast Asia, cannot be ignored, said Dr Tan.
'Emerging markets is increasingly an area where the GIC will be investing its funds. It will be a focus for GIC in the coming years,' he said.
GIC's share of investments in the United States has recently declined to 40-45 per cent, while 20-25 per cent of its assets were invested in Europe, 8-10 per cent in Japan and the rest in emerging markets.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of its 25th anniversary dinner on Tuesday, Dr Tan said the 'milestone in GIC's corporate history' is an opportune time to take stock.
'GIC's investment objective is to preserve and enhance the international preserving power of Singapore's reserves,' he said.
'The Government views these reserves as assets for present and future generations of Singaporeans and hence regard GIC's investment performance over the long term as more significant than short-term results.'
Dr Tan said since its inception in 1981, GIC has grown in size, breadth and depth.
From a few officers when it started, it now has more than 800 staff, of whom about half are professionals. About 36 per cent of the professionals are foreigners.
Starting with a fund size in 1981 of several billion Singapore dollars, GIC now manages well over a hundred billion US dollars, with investments in over 40 countries.
'GIC has done well because of its people..To continue to do well, GIC must continue to attract and retain top talent,' Dr Tan said, adding that GIC also welcomes global talent and is determined to offer them attractive and satisfying career prospects.
Not that Tony Tan said anything particularly amazing. "GIC Deputy Chairman and Executive Director, Dr Tony Tan, singled out China and India, as the two emerging power houses that will see the greatest economic transformation this century". Duh. As if we didn't all already know that.
I once interviewed for a job at GIC. They wanted a lawyer who could advise on tax-driven asset securitisations on a multi-jurisdictional basis. At that time, I had only the faintest idea what "tax-driven asset securitisations on a multi-jurisdictional basis" were. But I thought that the term sounded cool, so I told the interviewer that I was looking for new career challenges and was eager to learn new things.
However, the interviewer warned me that the work would actually be quite dry, repetitive and boring. She said that if I was really looking for interesting work, then this might not be the right job for me. I said, "Errrr, in that case, you're probably right. No worries then, goodbye." And I left.
Surprisingly, GIC's HR person called me to fix a second interview. Even though I thought I'd made it clear that I wasn't interested anymore. I didn't want to be impolite, so to ward them off, I quoted, over the phone, an unreasonably high figure for my expected salary. If I remember correctly, it was about 40% higher than what I was then drawing - and bear in mind that for the GIC role, I had no relevant experience.
The HR person hung up. But to my surprise, she called back two hours later saying that GIC was okay with paying my expected salary and please would I come for a second interview asap as GIC's legal department was quite keen on me.
I agonised over this for a grand total of one minute. Then I said I wouldn't be coming. I really didn't want to be stuck in a boring job, I told the HR person (and that was true). The HR person hung up. This time, that was really that. My mother scolded me for not going for the second interview, but I know myself - boring jobs are hell for me.
Looking back now, I'm quite surprised by GIC's strong interest in hiring me. Even today, if I needed to hire a lawyer for tax-driven asset securitisations, I wouldn't hire me. I just don't have the relevant experience. I would throw out my own CV straightaway - not even a first interview.
Tony Tan says that more than half of GIC employees are professionals, and 36 per cent of the professionals are foreigners, and GIC is determined to offer them attractive and satisfying career prospects. I just wonder how many of these professionals might or might not actually have any relevant experience.
Past Musings: "Newly-qualified teachers are encouraged to apply" - click to read about a recent example of zero-experience foreign talents being wooed to come to Singapore.