How The Country Manager Of StashAway Strikes A Work-Life Balance
‘Sediakan payung sebelum hujan’ is a Malay proverb that all of us have grown up hearing in school about saving our money, but investing takes that a step further. Investing is like preparing an umbrella before it rains, but making sure your money is growing so that you can buy a raincoat and rain boots in the future too. StashAway is one of the easiest avenues where you can dip your toes into investing for the first time!
Most regular Crunchies are familiar with StashAway Malaysia since we’ve already conducted a number of workshops with them in the past. But, if you’re new here, dive into this article to learn a bit more about them! Wai Ken, the Country Manager of StashAway Malaysia and a lover of coffee speaks to us and shares a little bit more about his experience and the lessons that he has learned throughout his journey in life.
1. So, what does StashAway do and what makes it tick?
As a digital fund manager, StashAway helps our clients grow their wealth for the long term. Nothing is more important to us than our clients. As an investment platform, we have to ensure we provide long term steady returns. Beyond that, we put a lot of effort into educating clients and introducing new features to enhance the investment experience.
2. What role do you play in StashAway Malaysia?
As Country Manager, my main goal is to grow StashAway’s presence in Malaysia. To do so, I split my time between marketing activities (webinars and client meetings) to firm-building initiatives (hiring, working with partners and ensuring compliance is tip-top!).
3. How does a typical day look like for you in the office?
I really enjoy the variety as no two days are the same. However, it’s usually a mix between conducting webinars for our corporate partners, speaking to prospective partners for collaboration and checking in with my team.
4. Who has influenced you most when it comes to your work ethic?
Both my parents have influenced me greatly, with my dad heading up a property development company, and my mum working in the fund management industry. They are both very driven people who have strived to set their children up for success. Otherwise, I have also learned from each of my former bosses who have their own strengths as decision-makers and leaders.
5. What is something that sets StashAway apart from other companies in your industry?
Being customer-centric is the front and centre of every decision we make. By aligning ourselves with the customer, we are able to make decisions that make the overall investing experience better. There is a lot that goes into building a company and rolling out a great product, and it helps that we have a north star, a guiding light that is aligned to our customers.
6. What does success mean to you personally, and how do you go about achieving this?
Success to me is the balance of building wealth steadily and having quality of life. I don’t believe in the relentless pursuit of money, but I do believe in building wealth in an environment I enjoy. My family and health are equally important, so I wouldn’t sacrifice either of those for career advancements or meaningless hard work.
7. How do you stay productive when you are having a bad day?
I try and focus on getting one important thing done in the morning. That gets me in the rhythm of getting things done despite having a bad day. After that, I usually keep to my schedule to ensure things don’t get stuck. Towards the end of the day, I choose what work I would like to get done which interests or motivates me the most so I finish strong. This is so I don’t drag my feet to the finish line but instead stay motivated until the end of the day!
8. What does your night-time routine look like?
My wife and I split cooking duties, so we usually take turns preparing meals. After dinner, I spend a lot of time on Youtube watching sports or video game walkthroughs. We all need our downtime to relax and unwind! Lately, I have been reading a bit more, having just gotten an iPad, so I just finished Barack Obama’s latest biography “A Promised Land”. It was a good read!
9. What skills have been most useful to you in your journey thus far?
One of the most useful traits I gained while working in a fintech company is resourcefulness–which means never taking no for an answer. Often times, especially at the start of our startup journey, I would meet roadblocks, but I strived to think creatively around these to find alternative ways to move forward. When I was persistent enough, other roads opened up. Don’t let the obstacle phase you. Always look for ways to innovate and overcome.
10. Do you have a personal mantra/phrase that you always repeat to keep yourself motivated? What is it?
Having run marathons and completed several triathlons for a long time, I truly believe in never giving up. Life is much like running a marathon–while the journey may be challenging, it’s important to pace oneself and enjoy the pursuit.
11. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I realised a few years ago that it’s important to enjoy being in the moment and to be present. You can’t really enjoy life if you’re constantly stuck regretting the past or worrying about the future. Instead of just relentlessly pursuing goals and achievements, I always make a point to find joy in my surroundings and not take myself too seriously.
12. What’s the most important financial advice you can give to our readers?
Saving is good, but investing is better. While saving money is in our culture, it’s important that the money is put to work instead of sitting stagnant in your bank account. Learn up about investing and what risks you are comfortable taking. This is the crucial first step. After that, start by experimenting with different modes of investing and by using a few different platforms. By the time you start making serious money and have real financial obligations, you’ll be well-positioned.
Despite being a hard worker and a high achiever, Wai Ken teaches us that there is value in slowing down and being present. Life is more than just a relentless pursuit of material gains–cherish your time with your loved ones and put them as a priority too. Since life is a marathon, pace yourself and enjoy the run. No matter what comes your way, your steady steps and creative, resourceful mind will help you overcome challenges that will take you to the next vantage point.