Day 8: Big words and Big Opportunity

Today, we visited VinaCapital, the investment management company that I am presenting on. We had a bit of a sleep in before meeting at 9:45AM to head over.

The office we had our meeting in had a beautiful view of the city, including over the main square where we had been a few nights before. It was cool to see it from a different perspective. Four people presented to us, including the company’s CEO, Thai Nguyen. They presented on what VinaCapital does and how.

The short version (I say the short version because the long one was extremely confusing) of what they do is they take foreign (not Vietnamese) people’s money and invest it in Vietnam to make a profit for themselves and the investors. Operating in Vietnam is good and bad in a variety of ways.

It’s good in that there’s plenty of opportunity in Vietnam. The economy is growing rapidly and there’s infrastructure and real estate galore. Foreign investment from places like Luxembourg, the US, and the UK (especially since VinaCapital operates on the London stock exchange).

There are also extreme drawbacks. First, government regulations makes it so that the government owns 70% of all banks, limiting investment. The most interesting drawback I saw was with generating investments with the Vietnamese public. The Vietnamese average income is about 150 American dollars a month, so even money saved for multiple months makes little impact in investments. The speakers also explained that Vietnamese don’t fully understand the concept of saving, so they want their money back with gains very quickly, sometimes within a week. Furthermore, they don’t save for retirement, and creating an environment where that’s encouraged is a challenge that might only come with time.

Lastly, VinaCapital also has the VinaCapital Foundation, a separate entity under the company that gives back to the Vietnam community. The person who was to present this didn’t show up to our company meeting, so my knowledge is limited, but they do cool things like donate biomedical equipment to aid Vietnam hospitals.

After VinaCapital, we had lunch at UEF, took a Vietnamese language class on numbers and shopping, and took our final class on Vietnamese culture. The culture class talked about how past traditions are being changed today, and reminded me of what we talked about at VinaCapital. It seems that VinaCapital is ahead of the curve in Vietnam. They’re trying to create investments from a people who aren’t ready. The company has been around since 2003, though. Maybe the day when the Vietnamese people are ready to save isn’t too far in the future. IMG_4279.jpg

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