Greetings all! I recently joined Providend in a Senior Client Advisor capacity, but whilst I am new to the role, I have had a very long and fruitful association with the firm over the last 11 years (more on that in a bit!).
I have worked in the asset management business for close to 19 years, 12 of which have been in Singapore. Having completed my undergraduate studies in Economics at the College of Wooster in the US, I did a short stint at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, then went on to working at Ibbotson Associates and subsequently at UBS Asset Management in Chicago. While at UBS, I did my MBA parttime at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. It was an intense program, having to juggle work and a full academic load, with little time for much else. But it was an immensely rewarding experience and a year after finishing up the degree, I moved internally with UBS to Singapore at the tail end of 2007 (Dec 31st in fact)!
Having spent a year and a half at UBS’s Singapore office learning how the Asian asset management industry works, I moved on to Vanguard Investments in 2009 to look after their South Asia institutional business development efforts. It was an exciting time to be there with lots of changes happening in the index business globally (Blackrock acquired iShares from BGI that year) and there were lots of changes happening internally from a strategic standpoint as well. It was during this time that I came in contact with Chris and Providend, and they were one of the few champions of low-cost investing and doing the right thing by the client, not just in Singapore but across the Asian intermediary landscape.
I took over as head of the Singapore office in 2011 and as we diversified away from the institutional space into the financial adviser/private bank distribution space, we developed a very close working relationship with Providend, having made many an unsuccessful attempt to get Vanguard’s funds registered for retail use. However, I had such conviction in the firm that I came aboard as a client of Mei Kuen’s in 2012 and have been one ever since, sending a lot of my friends her way for her expert advice! In 2015, I moved on to Markit to help them with their acquisition of the HSBC Asian fixed income business and expand their footprint across the Asia Pacific from a business development perspective. The entire fixed-income index landscape was changing at the time, with banks exiting the business and independent providers like Markit stepping in to fill the avoid, so it was a huge learning experience. Finally, in May 2020, I decided to change tact and join Providend as an adviser after a conversation with Chris and Evelyn. It’s been a lot of learning for me, and it’s been a joy getting to know a real passionate and dedicated group of people here at the firm!
On the personal front, I enjoy squash, golf, yoga, tennis and Reiki! I have a very talented wife who is an artist – dabbling in and mastering pottery, painting, photography and pretty much any art form she wishes. We met during our undergraduate days and invested in our relationship for the very long term (like our investments!). We have a sparkplug, energetic daughter, who is 10 years young and wishes to not just dominate me in all the sports we play but has acquired pretty effective art skills from her mum. I am really looking forward to the next phase of my life, both personally and professionally!
This is an original article written by Rahul Bhalla, Senior Client Adviser at Providend, Singapore’s Fee-only Wealth Advisory Firm.