Interview With Asad Sultan, CEO of Deutsche Malayan Ventures - 4IR: KL Tech City, Fintech, Media And Tech

By Hernaldo Turrillo - Jun 01, 2020

Asad Sultan, CEO of Deutsche Malayan Ventures and an industry leader in the areas of finance and technology, is the guest in this new interview series for citiesabc. Hosted by Dinis Guarda, Asad Sultan talks about his views on 4IR disruption, including technological breakthroughs on finance, smart cities and even in the entertainment industry. From his expertise, Asad Sultan also talks about his career and provides valuable insights on how business and technology is changing the world.

Interview focus

  1. an introduction from you - background, overview, education...
  2. Career highlights
  3. Your company, organisation and focus
  4. What are your work priorities
  5. Goals and how do you see the future of work and the main trends in tech and society
  6. With Covid-19 how can you look at this as a way to redesign our society
  7. Future vision

Quotes and Highlights

Cultural background and multi country background. From India boarding school to moving to the USA. I call myself a global citizen rather than from one specific place as my professional career has taken me from the US to China and Hong Kong, experiencing many different cultures and learning along the way. And all those experiences have made me better culturally speaking.

Differences between Western and Eastern cultures. Historically, Western culture has seen history from a linear perspective, things happen linear throughout history whereas in the East they see it cyclical.

First steps in the finance world. I studied law at University and after that I was introduced into the finance world in different areas. Finance, in fact, is really complex and forex trading, for example, has nothing to do with investment companies. So I tried to learn as much as I could by myself to truly understand how all these different parts of the same world work. Along the way, I have changed the corporate world to the more modern entrepreneurial trend.

The use of technology as it started to be deployed in the financial market changed everything. Technology actually decentralized and democratized the financial markets. Before that, financial markets were dominated by three or four hubs in the world. And I saw that first-hand when I was working at a large investment company in Hong Kong. We were one of the first companies in Asia to start using algorithmic trading and the latest technology to drive our activities.

The first time I went to China it was an eye-opening experience. It was in 2000 and we knew China was going through massive developments and growing really fast but we didn’t know that they were doing so much in such a short time. I understood at that moment the magnitude and the power that China was going to become. Across Asia, I think one of their strongest points is how fast they have embraced technology solutions. Another aspect that helped China take off as a global superpower is precisely the long-term view of their policies.

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India trying to become the new China is not feasible. It is as simple as that. Institutionally, the Indian government is approaching economy and growth differently. Culturally, they are really different and their goals are also different. However, India has a lot of potential to become a great superpower in the near future. And that breakthrough will come when India embraces technology to drive the economy. This milestone will come sooner rather than later as lack of country-wide infrastructure and physical resources will oblige companies and individuals to shift to technology solutions to keep growing. And that is India’s most important opportunity.

Overall, long-standing industries are reluctant to adopt emerging technologies and 4IR based technologies. For example in Finance. Fintechs are called Challengers, they actually challenge the status quo that has been in place for years. That is why traditional banks are so reluctant to do it.

Nevertheless, the innovations brought by technology are undeniable. In the finance sector, where I am more involved, it has become a game-changer. Countries and governments are also seeing that and have promoted specific areas within their major cities to harness and leverage tech-based companies as they understand that this innovation can greatly improve businesses, efficiency and people’s lives.

Deutsche Malayan Ventures. The opportunity I saw in Malaysia was that in 2015 there was the first change in government in many years. And the new government had the vision to improve and modernize the country’s old infrastructure and systems. So I gathered a team of experts, including officials from the country and technologists to help develop where we could.

One of our main projects was to develop KL tech city. We developed a Master Plan and took an active role that took into consideration different aspects and the sectors we wanted to promote, for example fintech and other technological-based sectors. We wanted to drive capital and build collaborations between the government and the private sector to build a true smart city in Kuala Lumpur. We studied the market and the ecosystem and aligned our goals to bring those companies and projects that we were sure they were going to bring value to the table.

About being a producer in the media industry: music and films. I have always seen the media industry as a passion and out of that we built a cross-platform to distribution, collaborations and other types of producing intellectual property from India and Asia to the US and the other way around.

The most important takeaway from Covid-19 is the decentralization that will come after it. We are already in the trend whereby technology and the global economy is interconnected and technology is accelerating that greatly. Covid-19 is actually speeding up that process to the next level.

Asad Sultan bio

Asad Sultan is a twenty-five year veteran of the investment banking industry, including fifteen years in Asia. Asad Sultan is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Malayan Ventures, a company that provides bespoke cross-border advisory services for investment and execution of high-value projects in Malaysia. He is also Senior Adviser at JT Capital Asset Management. JT Capital is a value oriented asset management firm established in 2010.JT Capital strives to be the pioneer asset management company in the Greater China region,offering investors opportunities to capitalize on economic transition and growth in China.

Until 2008 he was the Managing Director and Country Head in India for US investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald. Asad started his career in 1990 with Citibank in New York, then Tokyo and London. In Hong Kong, he worked for Japan’s Daiwa Bank, and served as Division Director and Head of Asian Equities for Australia’s Macquarie Bank; following which he launched NYSE-listed institutional brokerage Investment Technology Group in Asia as regional Chief Executive Officer.


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