Striking a balance
Hongkongers are intrigued by property. But the art of anticipating when prices go up or down is not easy.
Albert Wong, managing director of Midland Realty, has found the wisdom of tai chi useful for spotting trends and making decisions - when used in conjunction with more modern scientific analysis.
'The highest level of strategic management is to do the right thing at the right time. If the timing is wrong, doing the right thing at the wrong time is no good,' Wong says.
Wong explains that an essence of tai chi is the idea of yin (negative) and yan (positive) embodied in the tai chi symbol.
'Yin and yan also mean day and night, that are nature's equivalent to the 24 hours on a watch. When the world was created, there is day and night, that is already the measure of time.'
Wong started practicing tai chi about 15 years ago, something he still does on a daily basis. He explains that the two poles of tai chi also mean action and rest, expansion and contraction. Just like night follows day, there is a time for expansion and a time for contraction.
'The key is to identify the tipping points. For example, in 1997, property prices were very high, but we were able to make the judgment that prices would fall. You don't know how long the night will last, but you know the night is coming, that's the important thing. Then in 2003, even when prices were low, we were confident they would go up, because we could see the change in government policy and the support from the central government. That's when the yin was turning to a yan. Your sensitivity to the external environment must be sharp, because in the real world there is not a watch to tell you the timing of expansions and contractions. You need to watch price movements, buyer behaviour, stakeholders in the property market, and your competitors,' he says.
Wong's ability to find the right information that helps decision-making perhaps goes back to his early career when he was a journalist. He went on to study an MBA and moved to work in the Hong Kong stock exchange, before eventually joining Midland Realty, one of Hong Kong's largest property agencies. Despite his training in Western management methods, he believes it is important to apply elements of Chinese culture when doing business. 'In Hong Kong, the property business is about people. We need to have a human touch in dealing with people, otherwise it's difficult to succeed. That's the oriental way.'
'Rolex sends the clear message of being successful. It's a symbol of wealth in Hong Kong, but it is also a very high-quality watch.'
'I have always liked watches that are thin and elegant. The simplistic design of Patek Philippe also makes it a very practical watch to wear.'