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Janet Mui: making sense of economic development and facing the future

As we launch the 2021 Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre Annual Conference, we caught up with Cambridge MBA alumna Janet Mui, who is a speaker on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion panel at this year’s conference.

Janet Mui, MBA class of 2010.
Janet Mui (MBA 2010)

Janet graduated from Cambridge Judge in 2011 after working as a Relationship Manager at Citi bank in Hong Kong. She moved to London after her MBA and built a successful career in wealth management and investment with Cazenove Capital. In June 2020 she became Investment Director at Brewin Dolphin.

“It has been an extraordinary year as the pandemic has created devastation but also opportunities”, she says.

Janet shares her thoughts on the economic recovery, the opportunities in wealth management and how she started a new role and did about 70 television interviews all from home in the past year!

On the economy

2021 is all about reopening, rebound and rebuild. We are going to see the fastest global growth in 40 years according to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund and we are just at the start of a multi-year economic recovery cycle. It is all very exciting and a reminder to be optimistic at times. However, the pandemic has left behind rising wealth inequality and record government debts.

There has been a tectonic shift in the perspectives of policymakers. The focus nowadays is not just an economic recovery, but an inclusive, equitable and green recovery. The new US administration has passed an enormous $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which it intends to follow up with further spending to address the potential economic scarring from COVID-19, inequality, climate change and the state of America’s creaking infrastructure. The Federal Reserve says it will look at the recovery in situations across different wage groups, demographics and race to determine appropriate policy.

The pandemic has led to a record level of global government debt. The debt burden is not a problem as long as the costs of servicing the debt (i.e., government bond yields) remain low. Politically, governments seem to have very little appetite for a return to the unpopular period of austerity. However, it has become increasingly clear that US and UK government will look to get the bill paid back by top 1% of the population and corporate which have enjoyed relatively low taxes.

On wealth management industry

The mission of my job is to help people make sense of economic developments, provide insight on financial markets and to inspire more people to invest for the future. I believe working in the sector is a privilege, not a right.

I believe that there are many exciting opportunities in the wealth management sector, accelerated by personal and macro factors post pandemic. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for many people: to spend more time with loved ones, to look for a bigger house, to work more flexibly and perhaps the most importantly, to revisit their personal financial matters.

With a boom in lockdown savings, rising inflation concerns and persistently rock-bottom interest rates, more people are recognising the need to have an investment plan and looking for financial advice. With the wider adoption of technology and digitalisation, the wealth management industry now possesses efficient tools and platforms to help the mass population plan for a better financial future.

On a new job during lockdown

Janet started as investment Director with Brewin Dolphin in June 2020.

It was an odd feeling to start virtually because this is the first time something like this has happened and our industry is such a people business. Part of me wishes that I could have started the job on the floor and met everyone face to face, as I still believe in having that physical connection. That said, I am very grateful to have supportive colleagues and great infrastructure in place at Brewin Dolphin, so my experience has been very positive. I am lucky that my role is quite people-focused and media oriented, so I got to know many stakeholders and to establish my reputation at the company very quickly.

On media interviews

It has been a new experience to do all my TV interviews at home – there was professional lighting, AV equipment and operational guidance (and a make-up appointment if you wish!) at the studio. It took a bit of learning and research to set up a nice home office with the right equipment (eg a ring light is worth investing). But ultimately, it is the content that matters. Despite the challenges of broadcast media at home, I have been on air about 70 times since lockdown. In recognition, I am very proud to have won the best industry commentator at the City of London Wealth Management Award 2021. It shows how much our comments are appreciated in times of unprecedented uncertainty and how great teamwork can achieve great outcomes.