A former boss once told RCM’s outgoing Asia-Pacific chief executive Mark Konyn to treat his job in such a way that he is constantly striving to make himself redundant.
It appears to be mission accomplished now after 14 years with the firm, a subsidiary of asset management group Allianz Global Investors.
Last Friday RCM announced that Konyn would be stepping down at the end of March next year in what is being billed as an orchestrated and well-thought-through management transition.
But one thing's for sure: you won’t find Konyn on the golf course. “I don’t have the patience,” he concedes. “I want to get on and I want to do business. I am a commercial addict and I will be looking for a new challenge.”
Konyn says he has been discussing his departure with senior RCM management globally for several months and that they came to the conclusion this was the right way to do it.
He stresses he is not the sort of person to try and find another job while fully engaged with RCM. Moreover, he did not want to be one of those people who sends out an email at 6pm on the day of his exit to say he was off and leave a personal email address and mobile number.
“We are in fund management, and we are looking after the long-term interests of clients in this region,” he states. “What we were conscious of was respecting our various stakeholders, our clients and, most importantly, our staff.”
Asked about the transition process, Konyn suggests he does not expect to be directly replaced, and certainly not by an external hire. “What I am doing is handing off a lot of my responsibilities to a number of people who have been working in this firm for years and whom I have mentored. They are now at a level in their careers to take on more responsibility.
“They will work together as a team, as they are now, with maybe one or two individuals stepping up and providing additional leadership. Perhaps you will see a more formal structure in terms of committees reporting regionally."
For the past five years Konyn has been responsible for managing RCM’s Asia-Pacific investment business in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia, and he says people responsible for each of those distinct lines of business will be stepping up.
As for what he will do next, Konyn rules out taking a break, saying the most time he has taken off between jobs in his career is one week. “First I want to see the transition work well, while at the same time looking for opportunities as and when they come along.”
He says his future likely lies in asset management or financial services based out of Hong Kong, where he lives with his wife and three school-age children. Born in Hackney, London, Konyn has spent 22 years working in Asia, and reasons this is where his experience is. "The thought of going back to a European venture that is downsizing is not particularly attractive, to be honest.”
In fact, he can't really see beyond a regional role based in Hong Kong. “If I was to announce [I was interested in leaving Hong Kong] in the press without consulting my wife, I would be looking for a new wife and a new job," he quips.
Rather, he talks up Asia in terms of the rapid accumulation of wealth at the private level, increased cross-border flow from the developed world and even the growth of new asset classes such as regional fixed income as well as China.
He suggests the time is right to leave now in terms of his age – he will be 50 in January – his overall experience and his credibility in the industry. He notes his experience could fit well within a number of different businesses, from private banking through to the buy-side, given how the flow of funds continues to evolve.
“I am not narrowing down my options yet. One of the exciting aspects about financial services and of being in Asia is that things more very quickly.”
But he confirms that what stimulates him is developing and building businesses, saying he was something of a pioneer when he landed at RCM. “When I came in, the business was at a very low level and not in the segments we are now. Over 14 years we have developed institutional business locally, regionally and globally.
"We have taken our retail business to a much higher level and there are a whole range of offerings. The business has got broader. We are a main player in MPF, we manage pension business for a number of large institutions in the region and we are building businesses in China and the US, which was never the case previously."
By way of reflection, he adds: “It may turn out that this is it in terms of my career, but I hope that will not be the case. There is more I want to achieve. I may be wrong, but I always back myself and the only way I am going to find out what is possible is by taking up a new challenge.”