Reid Kirchenbauer is the world’s foremost expert on frontier market investment in asia.
Hi, my name is Reid Kirchenbauer. I’ve been investing in real estate, stocks, and private equity in Asia for more than a decade.
Off the top of my head, I can quote you Cambodia apartment prices, help you open a brokerage account in Singapore from home, and give you tips about frontier market stocks in places like Vietnam. And that’s just the start of it!
How did I accomplish all this before I was in my mid-20s? Well, it’s an unusual story.
I was a child actor with roles in about a dozen nationally-aired TV commercials while growing up in Los Angeles. In this situation, the government keeps your money until you’re an adult… unless you invest it.
This led to my career, strangely enough. Most of my spare time as a child was spent reading books, doing research online, and trading international stocks. I was more interested in how the Hang Seng Index closed than the normal fascinations of a teenager.
At the time, my fairly modest stock portfolio did well in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis because I shorted oil and mining companies. Then I turned 18, moved to Asia and never looked back.
I graduated with a finance degree from one of Southeast Asia’s best universities, learned two languages, closed several million dollars worth of real estate deals (whether personally or for my clients), and made countless international stock trades.
The comparatively small sum of money I made as an actor was multiplied by over ten times.
My graduating class picture from Thailand’s top university back in 2016. One of these things is not like the others.
How? Well, I learned how to buy commercial property and other assets in Asia at low prices. I found people who were determined to sell quickly. They were sometimes overleveraged and just needed more liquidity.
One time, a bomb exploded down the street from the seller’s apartment… an alarming but temporary event. I bought the property, which was otherwise in a prime location, and it tripled in value a few years later.
Soon, I began venturing outside “the usual” emerging markets like Thailand and China, and instead spent several years diving into Asia’s frontier markets.
Why frontier markets? We have an entire page about it. Places like Nepal, Cambodia, and Vietnam each became my home for several months at a time. My goal: to find a niche asset class and achieve high returns in it.
This led to an epiphany of sorts: there wasn’t any “frontier market property fund” yet.
Sure, you could buy into a REIT in Singapore that owns offices. But there wasn’t any method to invest in countries where demographics and rapid urbanization are driving the market… aside from taking a long trip to figure it out oneself.
I spend a lot of time in frontier markets like Cambodia and Vietnam. You can make tons of profit in these places but they’re difficult. They often require an “on the ground” presence and finding your own opportunities.
Either way, the returns from investing in real estate and stocks with fair valuations, in countries which are growing quickly, are no less than stellar.
But that’s enough about me. Your own background story might be very different from mine, yet our goals are probably similar: we both have a bit of money and want to invest it in the most effective way possible.
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