25 March 2019
Cho Sir shared his wisdom through his books. Photo: HKEJ
Cho Sir shared his wisdom through his books. Photo: HKEJ

Cho Sir, my boss and friend

Cho Chi-Ming, who was my boss and close friend for more than 20 years, passed away last week.

Also known as Cho Yan-chiu, he was my mentor after I joined the Hong Kong Economic Journal in 1979 following my studies in the United States.

I first worked in the newspaper’s library and resigned after being promoted to deputy chief editor.

At the time, I was not so close to him but learned from my father that he used to write about picking stocks in his Ming Pao column, which was a big hit.

I left the HKEJ for nearly 10 years and returned in 1989.

I started to work with Cho and we started an investment column in the newspaper. Over the period of 20 or so years, we spent eight to nine hours each day on our articles.

As my boss, he always helped me avoid the hassles from interpersonal relationships in the office, letting me to concentrate on writing the column with a byline “Luk Man”.

Every day, we would spend around an hour discussing the latest investment topics.

I showed him the latest market data while he made a thorough analysis with the information. We also made good use of comments from market experts.

I felt so lucky to have him as my boss. There was no pressure while working with him. He gave ample space and freedom to me and my colleagues.

The HKEJ is a big platform, enabling those who have the potential to harness their talents and become respected writers and commentators.

While my management style is strict, Cho’s was easy-going and accommodating.

He usually invited colleagues to drink and dine together. Also, he liked offering insights into life and investment. He was the perfect boss and mentor for all of us.

We turned out to be a good fit for each other at work.

Cho gave more value to medium- and long-term investments.

He subscribed to expensive investment reports to keep up with the latest global investment trends.

He also had a deep understanding of macroeconomics and politics, and dug deep into companies’ management teams as well as business and earnings reports.

He believed that if you find a good quality stock, you should just hold it and ignore its short-term price ups and downs.

That’s the best way to make big money, he said. That’s how he made over HK$100 million from his personal investments.

In contrast, I used to focus on short-term speculation, ranging from US stock index and London gold to foreign exchange and stocks.

My columns’ short-term focus supplemented the newspaper’s emphasis on the long term, and that enabled us to entice more readers.

Interestingly, both of us always had the same market outlook over the last decade, and we always got it right.

I understand why Cho preferred long-term investment; it is more suitable for ordinary investors, who have no time to trade stocks on a daily basis.

They can just choose one stock and hold it for a long time.

My short-term investment focus only works for a few people. It seems more attractive if one stock soars 30 to 40 percent in a single day, compared with a stock that posted a full-year rally of 20 percent, although the former approach is much riskier.

Over the past decades, there have been more and more uncertainties in the global financial market.

China’s leadership change every 10 years also affects the political situation.

That’s how the trend theory has come into place — in order to make more accurate market forecasts.

I also try to add more medium- and long-term investment into my approach. For example, I usually review the investment strategy on a quarterly basis. That’s what I learned from him.

Also, his persistence to continue learning, the way he dealed with people and conducted himself, and his love and caring for siblings and family members, as well as his wife and two daughters, made him a respectable figure in my life.

Cho had once mentioned to me that the best retirement plan for Hong Kong people is to live abroad or in the mainland.

He said the city’s boom years are gone, and it should focus on integration with the mainland after the 1997 reunion.

In fact, many mainland cities have surpassed Hong Kong in terms of living and business conditions. Those who plan to retire in mainland could consider these cities.

Cho had a wonderful life, and left a great spiritual legacy for his fans.

Rest in peace.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 1.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version中文版]

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columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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