V-Nee Yeh ’84 has applied his well-honed financial acumen to both the public and private sectors. The results, in every case, have been impressive.
Every weekday, V-Nee Yeh ’84 wakes up to the sound of an alarm clock buzzing at an unlikely time: 3 a.m. The fund-management expert then spends the next several hours answering emails that stream in from clients and partners of the four hedge funds and private equity firms he helped found. “I have a very idiosyncratic cycle,” says Yeh, who is based in Hong Kong and admits that he is particularly meticulous in keeping up with his email.
Until this past summer, part of Yeh’s early morning routine also included about an hour at a computer with a secure connection reviewing confidential papers on Hong Kong’s governmental policy options regarding everything from education to financial reform. The task was key to his role as a member of the region’s executive council, the main policy-making board of Hong Kong’s executive branch.
While Yeh’s appointment in 2009 came as a surprise (“I don’t belong to any political party or have a track record in politics,” he says), his financial acumen helped the council guide Hong Kong’s economy through the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The transcripts from the executive council’s meetings will likely remain classified for another two decades, but Yeh, whose term ended on July 1 of this past year, notes that his service occurred during a particularly exciting time to be involved in policy decisions for the territory.
“If you look at Hong Kong, we have unemployment in the 3 percent range, inflation in the 4 percent range, the lowest tax rates in the world, and a really strong fiscal position,” he says.
Yeh has no immediate plans to return to government service, aiming instead to focus his talents on Asia’s burgeoning private sector. With a résumé that includes seven years at the Lazard houses, he says the analytical thinking borne from his time at Columbia Law School prepared him particularly well for finance. His track record in business supports that assertion.
Yeh founded Value Partners Group nearly two decades ago, and the company now oversees more than $7 billion in assets, making it Asia’s second-largest asset-management group. In the past 10 years, he sought to replicate such success with his firms Argyle Street Management, Cheetah Investment Management, and Samena Capital—each of which has experienced periods of sustained success.
When pressed, Yeh rattles off growth figures for the firms with the tone of a modest but proud parent, although he is quick to point out that there is more to his line of business than just the investments and strategies alone.
“What makes my life interesting right now is not just the work that I do, but the partners I have who are great people and great friends,” says Yeh.
His long-standing friendships are no small feat in a competitive financial field, where relationships can sometimes be strained due to the pressures of deal-making. “What I’m most proud of,” says Yeh, “is that not only have my firms been successful, but all the partners have remained partners.”
As a founding shareholder but not an executive at the firms, Yeh may be on the receiving end of hundreds of emails, but he is less involved than his partners in the day-to-day management of the companies. And that is exactly how he prefers it.
“It gives me the flexibility to be in and out of the office as I please,” says Yeh. That means he is able to make it home for dinner with his wife and daughter at 6:00 every evening. It also allows him to end his day by 8 p.m. so that he can be ready to start his 3 a.m. routine again the following morning.