Five former investment bankers were brought together on 1 Jun to share their stories of transition from a banking professional to a startup entrepreneur. A signature event of Asia Bankers Club, the panel event was attended by over 200 banking professionals who were looking for inspiration in light of the mixed outlook on the industry. The event was sponsored by Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy (HKGTA), a holistic sports wellness destination in the stunning natural country side of Sai Kung.
‘Being a banker prepared me to do things in a structured way – it is about how to present and package your products and services to appeal.’ Mr. Eric Gnock Fah, Co-Founder & COO at Klook, mentioned when asked what kind of transferable skills he acquired in banking.
'It was when I realised that my real passion is to work with people who have creative ideas, and that I enjoy seeing things come to life, that I resolved to focus my energy on that. Few people remain in banking all their lives and it is very important that you have an idea of what you are passionate about, that can guide you in your life after banking.' Ms. Yeone Fok, Founder at SparkRaise.com, said when discussing her decision to leave.
Mr. Shaun Kraft, Chief Financial Officer at CompareAsiaGroup recalled how he made the decision to quit, ‘I reached a point in my life that I had to decide whether I wanted to do banking for the rest of my life or something different. I was an adviser to company CFOs during my banking days and one day I decided to roll up my sleeves and get operationally involved in business. It was difficult to go from a comfortable life to something new, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.’
‘I have invested in startups before quitting my banking job but they all failed. I used the money I saved along with loans I got from banks but I finished all money within 6 months. I had no business plan at that time. I maxed out all my credit cards and even almost went broke twice over the period of two years. A good friend came to offer me a loan and luckily I survived after several changes of strategy.’ Mr. Kingston Lai, Founder & CEO at Asia Bankers Club, admitted his error in planning during his early years. ‘
Ms. Michelle Sun, Co-founder & CEO at First Code Academy, said, ‘I learnt to be better at doing things you don’t like in banking. Being an entrepreneur, especially during the early years, you have to get used to do things you don’t like and get them done.’
‘Life is meant to be lived, not meant to be in a cubicle.’ Mr. Anthony Solimini, The Stand Up Banker who moderated the panel said during the opening remarks when reflecting on his banking experience before quitting. ‘Leaving banking is about realising in life what your passion is.’
Jay Liu, Head of Development of Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy, presented a lucky draw prize to the winner after the panel talk.
Patting experience guided by Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy's golf coach before the Panel Talk