Entrepreneurship in the Financial Industry: Lessons from Hogi Hyun

Finance plays a crucial in the foundation and survival of any business, big or small. Having strategic control over the financial processes of a company enables leaders to identify and capitalize on the growth opportunities that will determine the success of the organization.


Hogi Hyun, an audit committee member of Clipper Holdings, the holding company for RMA Group, is a veteran in the Southeast Asian financial industry. He founded Abacus Capital Group in 1995, and his guidance led to the company’s expansion across Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Today, he lends his financial knowledge, expertise and vision to RMA Group.


œWhat I bring to the board is my background in finance as being both a banker and a fund manager, says Hyun. œI principally advise on the financial aspects of the existing businesses and propose new businesses. I also offer a financial review of the operating metrics of the various business lines and an understanding and analysis of the capital structure of the group’s companies. 



Bolstering financial performance


To improve financial performance, Hyun says, business leaders must learn to ask the right questions.


By asking astute questions, the company can obtain relevant data. And by analyzing that data, the company will know what measures it has to take to improve current processes and pursue development opportunities with high potential.


œQuestions will advise on what other businesses or services we can add, Hyun says. œFor example, can we package the sale of a car with financing or an auto loan? If we can upsell the services that we’re offering with respect to a single car sale, then the $1,000 margin we may be making on the sale of a $10,000 vehicle could be $2,000 or $3,000, doubling and tripling our profit margin for what is largely the same sale and with little extra effort. 



Southeast Asia vs the world: Adapting to different paces


Hyun has extensive first-hand experience in financial centers around the globe – from New York City all the way to Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok.


He says the biggest difference one notices when comparing different regions is the pace. The environments in New York and Hong Kong are very fast-paced with quick response times on projects. Singapore, on the other hand, moves at a somewhat slower pace. In cities like Bangkok, Phnom Penh or Jakarta, things move yet slower still.


Entrepreneurs need to be nimble to adapt to the speed at which things work and set their expectations accordingly, Hyun says.



Not a short-term proposition


Successful entrepreneurship takes time. Hyun compares the path of a financial entrepreneur to a marathon run.


œIt certainly helps if one is prepared for the marathon run in any entrepreneurial endeavour because obstacles come up, he says. œIt often takes longer than expected – things get harder and more costly, so having stamina for the long run is very helpful. 


If entrepreneurs are impatient, he adds, they can make rash mistakes that ultimately devastate the long-term viability of the business. Patience and stamina, on the other hand, provide much needed stability and guidance for stakeholders.



A home for aspiring financial entrepreneurs  


While RMA Group has grown quite large over the years, with many different divisions and companies working around the world, Hyun says it still stays true to its family-founded and family-owned roots.


œRMA Group’s family environment enables it to look after its various stakeholders, Hyun says. œIt also offers a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities for young people who have ideas and want to innovate and develop. 