At just 35, Ronald Tam CPA is already a corporate leader and is also helping to develop the next generation of business leaders in Asia.
One of INTHEBLACK’s 40 Young Business Leaders, Tam was appointed managing director and the head of corporate finance at investment bank Jefferies Hong Kong in December last year after lengthy stints in investment banking at UBS, the Bank of China and ING Investment Banking.
In addition to his corporate role, where he advises some of Asia’s biggest companies on equity deals, capital raisings and mergers and acquisitions, Tam – with his twin brother, Raymond – attended the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in New Delhi last November.
Tam’s work has taken him all through Greater China, where he has formed a particular connection with Mongolia. There he is involved with a non-government organisation whose aim is to help talented students win scholarships at universities such as Cambridge or the Ivy League colleges of the US.
“From the professional perspective my goal is to help the up-and-coming corporates in Asia with my corporate finance skills,” says Tam. “I hope to continue working with young leaders in the region and help gifted and talented students who lack opportunity, and assist them in studying abroad to win scholarships at top universities in the West and Australasia.”
Born in Hong Kong, Tam moved to New Zealand as a teenager and finished his secondary schooling there. He also completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Auckland University, majoring in accounting, finance and commercial law. He moved back to Hong Kong in 1997 – just in time for the Asian financial crisis. In spite of the tough times, he took a job in the audit division at Ernst & Young before moving into HSBC’s executive training program.
Roles at ING Investment Banking, the Bank of China and UBS followed, culminating in the appointment at Jefferies in December last year. Tam achieved his CPA designation in 2002.
“In the current market it is very important to structure deals correctly so clients can raise capital for their needs,” he says. “So I focus on equity and capital market transactions, convertible bonds and block trades and also M&A, plus advising Chinese companies on Initial Public Offerings in the Hong Kong market.
“I travel extensively across Asia for transactions in the mining and natural resources space, and I also travel to Europe to talk with consumer companies, including some leading luxury brands very keen to increase their brand power globally and which, of course, are especially interested in China, the largest market in the world.”
While well qualified in the hard skills needed for investment banking, Tam says he has also worked at developing softer skills, partly through his love of table tennis. A schoolboy champion in New Zealand, he has been a runner-up in the Hong Kong Open and plays to a professional standard.
“I spent four years at the Bank of China and my Chinese clients loved playing table tennis with me,” he says. “It’s a good way to build relationships, so I always carry my table tennis bat with me whenever I travel on business in China.”
Career history 1995 – 2012
2011 – present
Managing director, head of Asia corporate finance, Jefferies Hong Kong
2007 – 2011
Executive director, M&A and corporate finance, UBS Investment Banking
2004 – 2007
Senior vice president, Bank of China, investment banking division
2000 – 2004
Associate, corporate finance/mergers & acquisitions team, ING Investment Banking
1998 – 2000
HSBC management trainee program
1997 – 1998
Staff accountant (audit division), Ernst & Young
1995 – 1997
University of Auckland, Bachelor of Commerce
This article is from the October 2012 issue of INTHEBLACK magazine.