All That Glitters Is Gold

In the wake of the present day financial crisis hitting economies around the world, gold has emerged as a stable investment option. Managing Director of  Degussa Singapore, Michael Kempinski explains the benefits of putting your money in precious metals and his company’s plans for the region

5/8/2017 1:10:06 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

American writer, politician and investor advisor, Harry Browne, rightly said, “When paper money systems begin to crack at the seams, the run to gold could be explosive.” This is something that Degussa Precious Metals Asia and its Managing Director Michael Kempinski subscribe to. 

“Gold is forever” is the mantra Kempinski lives by. In time of crisis, gold is one of the safest investment options.

Kempiniski joined Degussa two years ago, and brings with him a vast experience in the precious metal trading business. He has held senior positions at international institutions and banks such as Dresdner Kleinwort Benson in Frankfurt, Commerzbank,  Deutsche Bank and UBS in Singapore.

As the head of Degussa Singapore, his responsibilities include providing advisory services to customers as well as managing the retail operations of the company.  

Here are excerpts of an extensive interview with India Se where the 42-year-old spoke about his plans for Degussa and gold as an investment.

India Se: Tell us a little about yourself – your background, education and upbringing?

Michael Kempinski:I successfully completed a professional banking programme that is very unique and popular in Europe, where along with academics, we get to actually work in a bank for two-and-half years. We get a great insight into the entire banking system and it is a good way to understand your strengths. So people can find out whether they are well suited to become an accountant, private banker, investment banker or auditer. I always liked the trading side, and have dealt in Fx, equities and precious metals. 

I grew up and studied in Frankfurt, and was good at economics and history. I am a single child to my parents who gave me a lot of freedom to pursue whatever I wanted to.

India Se: What prompted you to get into the commodities sector –especially trading in precious metals?

Michael Kempinski: Actually I am a precious metals specialist and that’s what I have been doing my whole life. One of my mentors discovered me and told me that I was a great candidate for the trading desk. I had some experience in equities trading and not in precious metals. But once you start trading, you learn the ropes. However there are some personality characteristics that are important for a trader. For example, you need to be calm, focused and resilient. You should also be able to multi-task because as a trader you have to follow the market and talk to your customers. I have worked with clients in India, make trading decisions for most part of my career; at the same time it is quite impressive to see the amount of gold India consumes. What was commendable was that Indian buyers made use of every price dip in a very smart way.

India Se: What brought you to Singapore?

Michael Kempinski: I came to Singapore six years ago from Luxumberg to become the Regional Head of Precious Metals for Commerzbank Singapore. I had visited Singapore years ago and I love the country. Hence, the decision was easy.

India Se: You have long experience in the financial sector and now you have moved into the retail/consumer services side of the business. How did that transition happen and were you apprehensive about moving from a trading floor to a shop floor?

Michael Kempinski: It’s not so different, I still have to do hedging, stock holding and interacting with customers. In Germany, Degussa has a bigger retail presence, so when gold prices are down, there are queues outside our stores. Whereas in Singapore, we have a good mix of clientele from different demographics. However, the client base tends to skew towards the wealthy clients and that’s why advisory services are important. Degussa hired me because of my precious metals experience, to share my knowledge with the clients. Since Degussa is new to Asia, we need to create more awareness  for the brand and gold investment to the public.

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