David Li says lessons learnt from 1950s school fund raiser still hold true today Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, winner of the Business Person of the Year award in this year's DHL/SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards, excelled in making money even as a high school senior. The 67-year-old Cambridge graduate, whose grandfather founded the bank, let reporters in on his first 'get-rich-quick' experience yesterday, recalling coming on top in a charity fund-raiser among his secondary school graduating class by becoming a fortune-teller at an annual fair. He raised #25, five times the closest next best performer. His gimmick then, as the only Chinese kid in his school in the hard old days of the mid-'50s, was to dress in a traditional Chinese costume. He charged his 'customers - mostly parents of his schoolmates - five shillings per visit at a tent he set up. It gave me a real advantage, I could do things others wouldn't dare to'. Divulging his secret of success, he said: 'I didn't want anyone to be unhappy, so I only told good fortunes.' He said he learned a business lesson. 'If you want to succeed, keep your customers happy,' he said. 'Of course these days I'm no longer in the fortune-telling business ... I'm in the business of making my forecast come true.' He foretold a key growth target for his bank yesterday, saying he expected mainland operations of Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong's largest independent local lender, to reach 30 per cent to 40 per cent of its total profit in five years, from 15 per cent in this year's first-half. 'I think we can exceed that target, as each year our profit there has been growing at 30 per cent to 60 per cent,' he added. Despite having no stake investment on the mainland, he said the bank is in talks with 'many' potential investment targets there. Bank of East Asia, which has one of the most extensive sales networks in the mainland among non-mainland banks, saw its share price rise 77.61 per cent from the start of the year. It rose 2.46 per cent to close at HK$41.65 yesterday. Other award winners include MTR Corp chief executive Sir Chung-kong Chow, who won the Executive Award; Paul Cheung Kwok-wing, chairman and co-founder of electronic circuit board raw materials maker Kingboard Chemical Holdings, took the Owner-Operator Award; BALtrans Holdings, Hong Kong's first freight forwarding company to go public, won the International Award; and bra pad maker Regina Miracle International grabbed the Enterprise Award. Richard Wong Yue-chim, chairman of the awards' judging panel said improved business conditions in Hong Kong were reflected in this year's recipients of the awards.