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Carrying on dad's legacy

AMID the endless debates over withdrawals from the sacred "Account One" of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Ryan Tan said there are sound justifications on both sides of the aisle.

His view on this thorny issue stems from what he said humans could learn from ants.

One should always plan ahead in anticipation of the winter season (retirement) so that one can live through it in comfort and with a peace of mind.

"If we do not do something now, then we have to be prepared to face a harsh winter."

This grounded approach to life is, in part, due to the wisdom of his father, who is at the stage of passing the torch down to Ryan.

The 28-year-old is the successor to the 30-year old financial technology (fintech) company, OzAsia MSC Sdn Bhd.

He has nothing but respect and admiration for his father, Tan Thiam Hock, who founded OzAsia Corporation Sdn Bhd in 1993 — the year that Ryan was born.

Tan, 66, grew up at a time when information technology-based education was not easily accessible.

While studying accountancy at the Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) College, Tan worked part-time as a computer operator at International Computer Ltd (ICL).

He started learning programming in COBAL on his own and did some simple programming for ICL.

After six months, he decided to drop out of TAR College.

In 1981, he was promoted to the position of programmer analyst in ICL. There, he specialised in payroll systems servicing the Klang Municipal Council, among other big corporations.

He left ICL in 1983 and joined a British software company.

In 1986, Tan, who was then an IT manager with Hyatt Regency Saujana, was transferred to Australia and then Singapore where he was appointed as the senior systems analyst.

This role called on him to support the systems for all Hyatt hotels internationally.

He married Ryan's mother before starting his own fintech company.

OzAsia is a financial software company that caters to professional fund managers and retail investors.

The company's clients include some of the country's top fund and asset management companies, government-linked companies, unit trust management companies and banks.

Its software also complies with regulatory requirements such as those under the Securities Commission.

In 2006, the company achieved MSC status and was rebranded as OzAsia MSC Sdn Bhd.

Long before fintech was even a buzzword, OzAsia was already playing an important role in Malaysia's capital market, especially in the fund management scene.

It is also one of the very few locally grown outfits that can compete with big United States giants such as SS&C Technologies in this space.

"We have a system that helps clients keep track of the net asset value, money market, bonds and others on a subscription-based model.

"My father was the one who had created the solution prototype," said Ryan.

"Our clients are based in Malaysia and Singapore. This year, the company is hoping to venture into Hong Kong, Thailand and China," he added.

Tan, who is now semi-retired but still oversees the running of the company, is ready to take a backseat with Ryan joining the fold.

"My brothers had joined the company for a short while but realised it was not their calling. On the other hand, I love the business as solving problems excites me.

"When someone says something can't be done, I would like to show them that any problem can be resolved with the right approach," he said.

Ryan, who graduated from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom with a degree in electrical and electronics engineering, said he took up an entrepreneur programme for two years after his graduation in 2015.

"After that, I found an IT community on the Internet and learnt IT hands-on from those in the community. I just 'Googled' for anything that I didn't know."

Ryan said when he first joined his father's company, he was intimidated by his colleagues who were his seniors. His goal at that time was to earn the respect of his colleagues.

"The best dynamic in a company is to have mutual respect for one another. No one is good at everything, and it's normal to not know everything.

"It's a bit concerning if someone tells you he knows everything, because that is just not possible," he said.

For his personal investment, Ryan invests in cryptocurrencies, as well as bluechip stocks.

He also runs a social media company.

"I'm fascinated with all that the world has to offer," he said.

The writer was a journalist with The New Straits Times before joining a Fortune Global 500 real estate company. This article is a collaboration between the New Straits Times and Tradeview, the author of 'Once Upon A Time In Bursa'.

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