Yoshiki Ohmura: Fast cars and alternative investments

Yoshiki Ohmura, CEO, Conquest Financial Partners

Yoshiki Ohmura

Yoshiki Ohmura is the CEO of both Conquest Financial Partners AG and Vesper Capital Management Ltd. In these roles he is responsible for the firms’ strategic development in addition to overseeing all investment and trading related activities. Both Conquest and Vesper are part of Rubicon Financial Holding Ltd. Ohmura is also the founder and team principal of Squadra Corse Ltd., which represents the Rubicon Financial Group’s interest in motorsports and the automotive industry. Prior to founding Conquest and Vesper, Ohmura served as Global Head of the GAM Structured Investments group as well as General Director of GAM Structured Investments Ltd. In this role he was responsible for all customised derivatives based investment management and overlay solutions. The GAM Structured Investments business was formed through the acquisition of Baer Alternative Solutions Ltd. and Bank Julius Baer’s Alternative Risk Trading group, both founded and managed by Ohmura. Prior to joining GAM/Bank Julius Baer, Ohmura served as Managing Director of the Institutional Product Development group at Kenmar Global Investment Management. Ohmura started his career at SBC/UBS Warburg, where he engineered and originated structured credit, fixed income and hybrid products. Ohmura received his BA in Economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA.


How did you first get interested in fast cars?

I’ve had a strong interest in cars for as long as I can remember. Both the technological as well as the performance elements fascinate me, so starting to race cars was just a natural extension of that passion.


Can you tell us about your racing team, Squadra Corse?

Squadra Corse represents our group’s interest in motorsports and the automotive industry. Our main activities are racing with formula cars, where we compete in the F2000 championship with the Formula Abarth cars, we also have a 2005 Formula Nippon which we use for BOSS (Big Open Single Seater) competition. In addition to our formula racing activities, we manage and run Ferrari GT cars (Challenge and GT3 class) for our clients. We have workshops in Monza (formula) and Maranello (GT), Italy with the personnel, infrastructure and logistics capabilities to compete in any pan-European championship in the formula, prototype and GT classes.


You are also the coach for the Swiss team in the Abarth TV show “Make it your race”, a talent show for aspiring race car drivers in pursuit of a dream: competing in the Abarth Selenia Trophy.

This was really a fantastic project developed by Abarth. The idea is to give “normal” people the chance to compete in racing. As it is very difficult to get started in racing, there are many people who never had an opportunity to pursue such an interest. Based on this, Abarth developed the idea to take a group of individuals, 20-25 per country, without any race experience (this was the only prerequisite besides age), develop their racing skills and gave the winners of each country the opportunity to compete in a the Abarth 500 Trofeo series. For the project I’m one of the judges and the coach for the Swiss team. The show was a big success and broadcast in many countries.


What is it about Abarth you like? How did your partnership with them come about?

Abarth has a great racing history and the brand is fantastic as well, but most of all I really like the people. Everybody I’ve met is very passionate about the company and what they do. We’ve been close to the Fiat group for a long time, so it was logical for us to support Abarth when the Formula Abarth series was launched in Europe and we continue to develop projects with them.


Which was your greatest win on the racing track so far?

It’s too difficult to single out any specific race. Last year I took second place in the overall F2000 championship which was great, as it proved that “old guys” can still hold the pace with the young guys who typically are racing in the formula class.


Which is your favourite racing circuit in the world?

Imola for sure. It has the right combination of fast and technical sections and altitude changes are great too. The track is really fun and challenging to drive. It’s also close to Bologna, which is one of my favourite cities, so that’s a big plus too.


You are now 38 years old. How long can you keep going as a competitive driver and what will you do when you can no longer drive competitively?

Hahaha, thanks, now I feel old! As long as one is physically and mentally fit one can be competitive on the race track. Typically over time drivers transition from formula cars to GT or prototypes and also endurance racing, where experience and consistency is more important than being able to squeeze out the absolute fastest lap. I also enjoy running the team and working with developing drivers. I could imagine that over time this will become more important in terms of allocating my time, but I cannot imagine not competing myself.


In interviews you have said that in the racing world you look up to Italian driver and coach Arturo Merzario because of his long career in racing. Who do you look up to in alternative investments?

Arturo has been racing competitively for over 50 years, mostly during a time when racing was still very dangerous. Besides being a racing legend, he’s also a very nice and funny guy. We had the chance to work together through Abarth and this year also race against each other (he beat me by one position). In the investment world you have not only great money managers, but also people who have made a real difference outside of finance like Soros and Tudor. Guys like that are real heroes too.


With all this racing going on in your life, do you have any time for your role as CEO of Conquest Financial Partners?

Yes, of course. One can never forget what’s paying the bills. Racing itself probably doesn’t take up more time for me than any other serious hobby for someone else (golf, tennis, sailing, etc).  We have great people in our team who deal with the day-to-day stuff, so I can focus on my “real” job and racing.


You are also running alternative investments firm Vesper Capital Management. Can you tell us what Vesper is doing in the alternative investments space?

We developed a hedge fund replication strategy, which is largely based on research we have been doing over the past 10 years. We run this strategy under the Vesper brand.


Do you manage risk in the same way when it comes to racing cars and making investments? Is it all about managing the downside?

Investing just like motorsports has a lot of uncertainty (risk). The key to managing these for both is to be as well prepared as possible, have highly skilled resources and be rigorous in the ongoing maintenance. Regardless if it’s a blown engine in a race or a position that blows up in a portfolio the result is devastating and often could have been avoided if the proper care was taken in advance. Risk itself is not a bad thing, one just has to make sure that the reward is adequate for the risk one takes. This is the same for investing or racing.


Apart from racing and finance, what other passions do you have in life?

To be honest, apart from family, finance and racing there is not too much time left for other activities, but that’s fine as those are the things I enjoy the most.

(Aug 2013)