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NF Trinity: Enhancing the Legacy Through Institutionalising the Family Office

Janet Hung: The real legacy
In an interview, the Chief Operating Officer of NF Trinity talks about why Single Family Offices need to professionalise their approach.
By Adrian Murdoch

Janet Hung is Chief Operating Officer of NF Trinity in Hong Kong – the financial investment arm of the Nan Fung Group. Established in 1954, the group has blossomed from a cotton yard factory to an ever-evolving conglomerate in Hong Kong with solid global presence from property development, life sciences, to financial investments. Hung oversees the continued institutionalisation of the group’s investment arm from an operational perspective. 

Here, she talks to CampdenFB about the growing institutionalisation within Single Family Offices, how to attract the right people and what legacy means to the group. 

What are the themes and issues that you expect to emerge from the Asia Pacific Family Office and Investment Forum? 

We are definitely living in an increasingly volatile, increasingly complex world. It will be great to discuss and share thoughts about how everyone is reacting to this. It is known that geopolitics continues to be a top concern for Single Family Offices, along with asset allocation in the age of inflation, artificial intelligence (AI), and even cybersecurity. 

There is also the growing institutionalisation of family offices. The current setup for a lot of those in Asia has been able to achieve its purpose. But is it enough to serve what is required in terms of operation controls? Is it really set up to protect generations and preserve wealth? People are likely to have different concerns depending on where they come from. I am hoping for fruitful discussions.

What motivated NF Trinity to continue to institutionalise its setup and infrastructure, and what developments have been made thus far? 

Our journey began decades ago with a primary focus on investment. As we progressed, we recognised the importance of institutionalising and evolving our family office to stay ahead in a dynamic environment.

To spearhead our expansion and institutionalisation efforts, Helen Zhu, a seasoned investment professional with over 20 years of experience at institutions including BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, joined as Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer. Under her leadership, our team has since then more than doubled in size. 

Today, our global allocations span private and public markets, encompassing diverse asset classes including equities, bonds, rates, private market funds, and private direct investments. Our objective is to invest in a steady risk-adjusted manner to achieve strong compounded returns over the cycle from diversified asset classes, sectors, and regions. 

Over the years, we have been able to achieve the objective and refined our investment process by leveraging top-tier technology and building a robust investment team comprising over 20 professionals with expertise in both public and private markets. Our public market team is structured in clusters, enabling us to cover a diverse range of sectors with great effectiveness and depth. Additionally, we have established a dedicated big data team to support and differentiate our investment process. 

Why did NF Trinity transition from a Single Family Office to a Multi-Family Office, and how does NF Trinity justify the costs and efforts of institutionalising the organisation?

In the past couple of years, we have been approached by individuals within our network, including friends and professional connections, who have similar values and objectives. They have expressed interest in co-investing with us and joining our investment ecosystem. They like that we are highly institutionalised, our interests are aligned, and we are ahead of the curve on big data capabilities.

We also believe that the cost of making disciplined investments backed by an institutionalised investment process is outweighed by the cost of getting it wrong. We manage the group’s capital, as well as that of the family, senior management and investment team itself. We all have aligned interests to propel our organisation forward and create long-term value, so it is crucial for us to be as institutionalised as possible.

Building an effective governance structure and establishing a solid reputation requires years of dedicated effort. Despite the current economic and market conditions, we continue to invest in institutionalising our infrastructure and now is an opportune moment to attract top talent in town. We have made a number of hires over the past year, driven by our long-term perspective.

How have you navigated the volatile macroeconomic environment over the past couple of years?

Our ability to navigate the volatile macroeconomic environment has been achieved through a combination of strategies. Firstly, we have adhered to a disciplined investment approach, remaining steadfast in our commitment to our long-term investment objective. Secondly, we have proactively explored various technological tools to identify areas for improvements, enhancing our operational efficiency and risk management framework. Furthermore, the volatile market backdrop has presented us with countercyclical opportunities to recruit talents who can contribute to our endeavors and can potentially pay off from the subsequent upturn. 

Nan Fung Group published its inaugural sustainability report in September last year. What was the driver behind that?

Nan Fung Group’s founder Dr. Chen Din Hwa has made profound marks in his business, but more importantly, he continues to inspire us with his benevolence and faith in mankind. The core value at the group is to “Do Good and Do Well”. This has been passed on through generations and can manifest itself in different ways. Dr. Chen was really one of the pioneers inspiring the growth of family philanthropy in Hong Kong. He even established a philanthropic organisation dedicated to carrying forward his vision in 1970. Today, the organisation continues to build on his philanthropic legacy to inspire positive changes in society.  

The launch of the sustainability, or what we call the SEWIT report, stands as a significant milestone for us. It showcases our commitment, collective efforts, and performance in realizing our sustainability framework – SEWIT (Social Cohesion, Environment, Wellness, Innovation, and Technology). 

To provide further examples, our group has committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Our latest mixed-use commercial development in the Kai Tak area, AIRSIDE, is the first building in Hong Kong to receive the seven most recognized green and smart building certifications.

The group as a whole always looks to the future. What is the approach to legacy? 

The group does everything in a way that is sustainable and has the thought of legacy. We just celebrated our 70th anniversary and the “Do Good and Do Well” value continues to resonate within our organisation.  

During the celebrations, we recognised it is imperative to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity with love. “Do Good and Do Well” is central to that legacy. It is much more than just preserving and growing wealth. It is about embracing top-tier technology, recruiting exceptional talent for each role, cultivating an environment where individuals can thrive, and treating everyone with respect. This is living in the culture of doing good and doing well. That to me is the legacy. 

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