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Emerging Markets Deserve Your Respect

by: Ira Apfel

Published on
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Emerging Markets Deserve Your Respect

When you hear the term “emerging markets” what comes to mind?

If you’re like me, you reach for the easiest cliché. Emerging markets are “exotic,” “risky,” full of challenges but promising great rewards to the most intrepid and audacious, etc. Think: Indiana Jones wearing an accountant’s green visor.

Sometimes treasury and finance professionals fall into this EM trap too. They’re bewildered by the different languages and business customs each new market presents. They try to impose their understanding of finance—checks, anyone?—on different cultures. Seeking relief, they turn to banks and consultants on the ground to clear a path through the EM jungle. See? I used another cliché.

There is an alternative to the clichés and the easy cultural touchstones. We can actually do the research. Even if we can’t travel to these foreign locales, we can educate ourselves. We can read, watch videos, or even talk to people (gasp!) who have been to these countries or are from them.

Take China for instance. There’s plenty of bad news about the Chinese economy right now. Part of the easy narrative about China as an emerging market is that it’s quite risky right now and maybe you need to hold off before expanding there.

On the other hand, Jason Li spent the past seven years in China. He wrote about the Chinese economy for the latest issue of Exchange and he makes some very valid points that parts of the Chinese economy are doing well and should only get better.

Anja Manuel holds a similar view. She’s spent extensive time in China and, in a recent interview as well as an article she wrote for Exchange, points out the need to shed our preconceived notions about the Chinese people and their economy.

Li and Manuel remind us that we need to break out of the familiar. Whether it’s emerging markets, cash management or some part of our personal lives, it’s time to accept things as they are and not impose our old beliefs on them. The clichés need to go.

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