Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Investor's Mindset

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XVI

One of the most important facets of the US economy is an overriding presence of investors in the physical and virtual landscapes of the economic front. From the Dow Jones Industrial Index, to the S&P 500, to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the NASQAQ, and the new exchange that deals with trade of CO2 emission certificates, and the thousands of angel investors and venture capitalists - they have made all the difference in the success of the US economy.

The US economy is probably the most dynamic, vibrant, diverse, and rich financial system in the world today. Companies that drive new technologies and that reinvent old technologies are always present and on the lookout for opportunities in the US. There are a host of investment banks, wealth management companies, mutual funds, individual investors, analysts, business schools, and research institutions that help bring new investment ideas and financial assistance to the masses.

This is something the Philippines needs to develop. As you can see this is the same environment that exists in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore - which makes these cities financial centers in their own right across the Asia-Pacific region. One of the most important elements in establishing such an environment is a truly open market. The laws and policies of these cities allow individuals and organizations to grow their ideas, their money, and assets into revenue-generating instruments.

But it is in education where the real challenge comes from. Manila, in order to become one of the financial centers across Asia, should become a hotbed of ideas, students, investors and entrepreneurs. Education will bring the most important element which is knowledge. Without individuals who are at the forefront of research and studies, any city or country cannot hope to become a regional center of excellence. Investment in improving state colleges and universities should be maximized and these institutions must be able to attract the best faculty in the country.

Hong Kong offers businesses the opportunity to transact with businessmen, traders and entrepreneurs from other parts of the world. Not to mention it is a gateway to Mainland China, which is fast becoming the biggest consumer market in the world. Tokyo is the capital of one of the world's most inventive and innovative countries, Japan. The Japanese are very adept at "everyday improvements," or as they call the kaizen philosophy of continuous "step by step" improvements which have made Toyota the largest automaker in the world today. And Japan has reaped the benefits of a society that is very focused on providing quality education. I would like to emphasize that not many Japanese speak the English language but their country is the 2nd biggest economy in the world.

Singapore is a financial paradise in Asia. Their main advantage is great services. There are many centers of excellence in Singapore, from among all fields of business, science and technology. They help create the change that companies today need. Singapore allows easy access to capital because the government is bent on promoting fresh start-ups in changing the rules of global trade. Shanghai is also fast becoming as the preferred financial capital to Asia. It is the financial capital of Mainland China. It has the single biggest consumer market there is - over a billion Chinese consumers. Shanghai offers great demand and the suppliers are coming fast in huge numbers to cash in on the growing appetite of the Chinese consumer.

Manila, which I mean to be Metro Manila, can position itself as the region's gateway to Asia. Geographically, we are the first country when you reach Asia through the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines is the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Metro Manila can become the financial center in Asia by implementing a comprehensive program that focuses on education and infrastructure.

Infrastructure will create the basic building blocks of a financial center - real estate needed for office spaces or commercial ventures or entertainment centers, schools & other establishments, highways needed to transport goods, communications lines needed for the easy exchange of ideas, and security measures needed to maintain peace and order.

Infrastructure will be the physical component while Education will be the knowledge component. For a financial center to rise in Metro Manila, the knowledge infrastructure should be in place. Accountants, investors, financial analysts, lawyers, sales people, marketing experts, and other service professionals should abound in the region.

The Filipino people are generally creative. But we need to harness this creative spirit to come up with tangible results. We need to dispel this "ningas-cogon" habit where we usually do not finish what we start. We must put our creative ideas to work. Innovation is the application of being creative. The government should encourage and provide funding for Research and Development centers in colleges and universities. These will become centers of invention or innovation where new products or processes of doing things for the everyday consumer can be developed.

Metro Manila with investments now from the BPO industry can capitalize on this to become a financial center in Asia. An investment usually requires long-term planning that involves the turning of assets into revenue-generators. The country must then be prepared to take the challenges of investing on its own people. I believe in the power of the Filipino worker. And I know he/she will succeed.

Obviously education here is every important because we need young individuals who have been awakened to the fact that they can create great products. That they can produce great results. That they can create new ways of doing things better. We need to mold the young to become bold dreamers and risk-takers in the sense that they are excited about expounding and acting out the ideas in their minds. That they can truly become employers.

An Investor's Mindset needs to be developed in the Philippines so that Metro Manila can regain its rightful place as Asia's financial center. 30 years ago, we were 2nd only to Japan in terms of economic importance. Today, we have been relegated to the tail end. Businessmen and rich families should become investors in the country's youth. Believe in us, believe that we can become great again. The government must also launch campaigns to attract local companies into truly developing their businesses and conquering foreign markets as well.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Investor!

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