Hugh Young – Reflections of a fund manager

Hugh Young – Reflections of a fund manager

One of the most respected and experienced managers of funds in Asia takes us through the highs and lows of his eventful career

Hugh Young1Hugh YoungHugh Young is one of those lucky souls: a man who clearly loves his job and is good at what he does. 

After three decades managing funds in Asia – 22 of those based in Singapore – he remains “rather passionate about things”, believing there is still “so much to change and so much to go for”.

That passion was infectious when Hugh gave a presentation to Asia Scotland Institute at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and when he spoke to our chairman, Roddy Gow, before the event. 

“Asia is as exciting as it was when first I went there 30 years ago,” Hugh told Roddy. 

“We’re talking about a huge area… very fast growing still. A bit slower today than it has been in the last 10 years, but compared to the rest of the world still really dynamic, very exciting, lots of positive points.”

“There are also a lot of negative points of course,” Hugh went on. “A lot of money sadly has been wasted over the years in Asia. But a lot has worked well, too.”

Those low points have included the crash of 1987, which Hugh remembers as “fairly traumatic”. Hugh also had to negotiate his way past the 1995 collapse of Barings Bank and the 1997 Asian financial crisis. On a day-to-day level, he has become something of an expert at facing the myriad of challenges that any British business person dealing with unfamiliar Asian institutions is confronted with. 

So much to go for

But Hugh’s story is an overwhelmingly positive one. When he moved to Singapore with Aberdeen Asset Management in 1992 he worked in an office above a coffee shop with a budget somewhere in the region of £100,000. He employed just a handful of local staff (who remain with the company to this day).

Two decades on Hugh has built Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd into one of the largest managers of Asian equities in the world, managing about US $100 billion. He has 200 staff based in Singapore and a further 400 in regional offices in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

As managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd, Hugh is in overall charge. He also sits on the Board of Aberdeen Asset Management Plc. And he doesn’t sound like a man who’s planning to hang up his boots any time soon.

“Despite the visible improvments across Asia it’s sad to see how much money has been lost along the way, or stolen along the way, and I think the big task of Asia is really to get its institutions in order – whether it be the legislative bodies, judiciary bodies, education… there’s still a long way to go,” Hugh concluded.

“Which is why I’m still rather passionate about things and why there’s so much to change and so much to go for.”

You can watch a video of Hugh’s presentation below, or see Roddy Gow’s short interview with Hugh on our Youtube channel. 


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