Money Moves

Property upturn to boost mortgage business

by Carmen To

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Leland Sun, chief executive officer, Pan Asian Mortgage Co Ltd
Photo: Tony Yu

With renewed strength being seen in the local economy, people have started to look once again at the investment opportunities offered by the property market. According to Leland Sun, chief executive officer of Pan Asian Mortgage Co Ltd, that means good news for companies involved in the mortgage business and most are therefore predicting a prosperous year in 2006.

Pan Asian specialises in the financing, structuring, servicing and securitisation of a wide range of financial products, in particular, residential mortgages. Mr Sun says: "Mortgages from banks are limited compared with ours. They provide services offering no more than 70 per cent financing for customers, while we can do better than that."

Before establishing his company with two other ex-Goldman Sachs colleagues, Mr Sun worked in investment banking and also helped the government set up the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation in 1997. This enabled him to gain real insight into how the local property and mortgage market worked. More recently, the experience proved invaluable when launching an innovative service for first-time home buyers. "Pan Asian collaborated with Centaline Property to offer 99.9 per cent loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages, which means buyers only need to pay a small down-payment and don't need to borrow the money from their parents. I think this can be regarded as a form of social benefit."

Assessing the general outlook for the mortgage business, Mr Sun believes there will inevitably be ups and downs, even on a month-by-month basis. "Growth slipped back a little in December, judging by the transactions seen in the past few weeks. Things were much more active in the summer months," he notes. He puts this down in part to rising interest rates deterring some potential buyers, which means the company must continue to act aggressively in order to secure new business. "Still, I believe the industry will grow, and we always view things with a long-term perspective. Since Hong Kong is a relatively small market, we will also keep looking for opportunities in mainland China."

Mr Sun feels that it is usually best to recruit people with local knowledge which gives them an edge in dealing with clients in day-to-day matters. "At present, we have 23 staff who are all from Hong Kong and in their 30s," he says. When hiring, the company looks for seasoned professionals, preferably with a college degree, since experience and maturity are seen as important qualities. "It is a competitive business and we need people who can demonstrate stability and will not be shifting jobs too often. Loyalty is also something which the company values highly."

Employees can expect to receive salaries set at a fair market rate. They also have the opportunity to follow a clear career path, learn about innovative solutions to common financial problems, and be part of a working environment which values individual contributions. "We even make sure to celebrate staff birthdays," says Mr Sun.

Taken from Career Times 17 February 2006, p. A2
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