Having accrued an impressive 20 years of experience managing Asia Pacific and Greater China portfolios, today Martin Lau is the Managing Partner of First State Stewart Asia. The Hong Kong local graduated from Cambridge University with a BA and a Masters in Engineering before progressing to Investment Fund Management. He began his career on the Risk Management team at BZW, spent 6 years with Invesco as a fund manager for the greater China funds, and joined the FSSA team back in April 2002, where he has remained ever since.
Lau is the lead manager of a number of First State funds, all with an Asia focus. He describes his investment style for many of these as a bottom-up stock selection with strong macro overlay, prioritising quality management, sustainable growth and business models. Across the last three years, his China Growth fund has gone up 45.9%, well above the 29% rise by the index during that same time. By comparison, the average return in the China sector in that period was 33.5%
Lau has a unique take on the merrily raging US-China tech war, seeing the rivalry as indicative of the growing strength of Chinese companies. He thinks that increasing US restrictions on Chinese tech companies highlight a perceived threat to Western countries. He has been quoted as saying that, in the very long term, more trade obstacles need not be a bad thing for a company. Though they are a test, a truly capable firm will surmount them and become even stronger. He recognises that in the past China was known for making cheap products, but feels that this is slowly changing to more value-added products.
Far from crumbling under the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lau’s team instead used it as an opportunity to look ahead to 2025 and to scrutinise their own forecasts. He believes that crises are a test of conviction and encouraged his team to ask themselves which companies in the portfolios they had the conviction to add to. With both steadfast investment principles and the agility to navigate uncertain times, Lau is a shining light on Asia Pacific and Greater China.