Get to know Samuel Rhee, chairman and co-founder of Endowus and member of the Robb Report Singapore Thought Leaders community
This is not a tall tale: in the 17 years he was at Morgan Stanley, Samuel Rhee consistently sacrificed bonuses and promotions in his quest to expand his professional horizons. Compelled by an urge to grow progressively and laterally rather than remain in any one department for an extended period, he embarked on a trajectory that led to him co-establishing Endowus, a rising financial technology company whose proprietary systems provide data-driven wealth advice in constructing personalised solutions at the lowest cost possible.
The strides that Endowus is making are admirable and future-shaping. In June, it was named 2023 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. More recently, the company, which was incepted in 2017, raised a mammoth $35 million in investor funding, which it will deploy towards serving its client base of over 100,000 across its main markets of Singapore and Hong Kong.
What shaped you into the man that you are?
I have a very tight-knit family. My parents passed on very strong values, including my faith. Moving around a lot brought the family closer; we grew to rely on each other through the various transitions, stresses and problems that come with being in new environments. It also gave me an open-minded, multi-cultural and flexible mindset, which have helped me tremendously as an entrepreneur.
Another thing that is ingrained in me is the importance of giving back. It’s part of my values. I’ve been blessed with a lot and I want to give back to people.
What’s a typical day in your world?
I like to exercise or meditate before I start work, something that gives me breathing space. A start-up is a full-on job. You need to really be disciplined in carving out time for yourself for the sake of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
At work, I have a lot of meetings, whether internal, where I manage the team and strategise about the key decisions, or external ones, which involve clients, partners and the media.
Working in finance, how often are you guided by instincts?
In financial language, risk is always associated with return. Ideally, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. That’s true in finance and it’s also true of life. I’ve always been a risk-taker and that has created some upside for me. For example, when I was going to university, I was slated to study law at University College London. But I chose to pursue economics and public administration in a school that wasn’t as reputed.
During my time at Morgan Stanley, I was constantly taking risks. Even co-founding Endowus was a major risk. It would be so much easier to go back to a big bank, get a cushy job and get paid a big bonus and salary, but that’s not the road I took.
Photography by Eugene Lee, Enfinite Studio
Hair & Makeup by Sophia and Victoria, Suburbs Studio