Editor’s Note: From May 25 to June 4, a delegation of 44 financial planners from the Financial Planning Association and 15 guests will spend a week in China, but sightseeing is definitely a secondary goal. AdvisorOne is partnering with the FPA to tell the story of this trip, with daily dispatch blogs from a number of those planners that will be posted on a special AdvisorOne FPA in China home page. With additional news and feature articles, the FPA in China Special Report will provide advisors with in-person and expert commentary on the world’s second-largest economy.
Prior to the trip, AdvisorOne spoke in mid-May with the FPA in China’s delegation leaders—former FPA Presidents Dan Moisand and Richard Salmen. In Part II of this interview, we explore what they seek to learn about investing in China and the Chinese consumer. Look for continuing coverage during the trip, and wrap-ups following the trip, on AdvisorOne. (See Part I of the interview here.)
AdvisorOne: Each of you actually has a day job [Moisand at the Florida planning firm of Moisand, Fitzgerald and Tamayo; Salmen at GTrust in Kansas City]. so why—beyond the desire to sightsee—are you taking the time and effort and money to go on this trip?
Dan Moisand: We will be ambassadors of our country, of the profession, of FPA, and on a personal level, I do subscribe to the Mark Twain quote about travel being the enemy of a closed mind [the precise quote: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.").
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Richard Salmen: Having spent time in the military, including several years in Germany, I appreciate that sentiment. Also, you know the predictions about how China may eclipse the size of the U.S. economy in a certain number of years? I want to get a look at exactly how vibrant, dynamic and growing the Chinese economy actually is. I’m curious about how the average Chinese citizen deals with money, how they manage risk.
AdvisorOne: What do you know about China now—what are your impressions about the Chinese economy, the Chinese consumer, the Chinese financial planner?
Salmen: I hope I learn something; I’m intrigued by the opportunity. I was not on the Russian trip [FPA's 2008 People-to-People trip to Russia]; but others who were have said this is a more diversified schedule, especially our meetings with Chinese financial planners.
Moisand: We provided the Chinese with a laundry list of topics that our people want to know more about. The same on the Chinese side—it’s amazing how many questions [Chinese financial planners] are asking us about how we as planners foster trust, How do we deal with risks. I can’t say [the interest constitutes] a life planning approach, but it might be.
AdvisorOne: You’re both financial planners and investment advisors—so what are your takes now on the best ways to invest in China. Is that part of the reason for the trip?
Salmen: I don’t want to have too many expectations coming into this; it’s more about absorbing the whole experience, to be open to the experience and go where the conversation takes us. There will be value to understanding the culture, the economy, how money works in China, how they’re dealing with this rapid growth. Is it sustainable? Here at
home, we get asked all the time about our own markets by clients and others—I expect these will be topics of conversation.