In a new series of interviews conducted by Hedge Funds Club boss Stefan Nilsson, we are aiming to get under the skin of interesting people related to the hedge fund industry. The interviews focus on the people and the good life. Here’s our chat with Kim Ivey, former President of AIMA Australia and co-founder of Hedge Funds Rock & The Australian Alternative Investment Awards.
From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
I like to break down my coverage into regions as I don’t think one global news service can adequately cover the breadth or depth of what is going on in the world. I scan the FT for Europe and the UK, the Australian Financial Review for Australia, Bloomberg for Asia, and The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s for North American news. Delivery is important. I don’t have time to read their entire publications, so I browse their websites, receive email alerts on keywords and follow their tweets through my Twitter account.
What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
It really depends on where I am these days. We have a house in Broome, WA which is in the Kimberley region of Australia. Vast natural beauty over a million square kilometres. If I am there, I’m generally outdoors in my Jeep, at the beach swimming or exploring dirt tracks with a mate. If I am in Sydney, I like to go with my wife to a cultural event, whether it is music, drama or modern dance. The one common thing I do on Sundays, at either place, is run to exhaustion in the afternoon and let the endorphins clear my head. Usually followed by a home-cooked meal with some good wine.
Can you name a great book you have recently read?
I’m not a great one for finding books to read so I willingly accept recommendations from others. A friend of mine, Steve Diggle, suggested I read “Think Small: The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals” last year and I just recently finished it. It’s an excellent read for anyone who wants to get past the good intentions that everyone has and achieve results.
What’s your soundtrack of choice?
Good question! It varies through the day. Mornings before work are definitely for jazz sessions enjoying the melodic improvisation and harmony. Unstructured energy within a framework, much like investment markets. Evenings, especially if I am cooking, are usually steeped in classic rock. I’ve been known to dance with the wife, or the dogs, in the kitchen. Late night is for American soul to let one think about joy, sometimes hardship, but always better times ahead.
What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
I’m in the juice and strong coffee camp in the morning. Carrot juice is my favourite, followed by two cups of coffee. Last drink is usually a calming herbal tea or if I am in a celebrative mood, aged tequila with an orange slice.
What gives you energy?
It’s undoubtedly people. My career has now spanned 35 years. I draw inspiration from the people with whom I interact. These days as I pursue more philanthropic activities, many of these people are outside the financial services industry. I talk, and more importantly, I listen, to everyone. Within investment companies, I like to hire people who are different than me and generally, much smarter. It makes for much better decision making. It is always a buzz to learn something new from someone else and collectively, take it to a new level.
How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
In our industry one can’t escape, nor can one generally control, the pace and complexity of what hits us on many fronts. Markets, technology, investors, regulation, pandemics…their influence is ever-present. We can only control how we react to them. And the best way I have found is not to be externally adaptive to each one but be internally consistent with the issues that occur. Understand the big issue, break it down into a series of sequential and parallel components and above all, approach it with truth, honesty and a methodology that is consistently looking for a solution, not the blame. On the general question of how to manage all the data, I use the inside-outside approach. Get totally immersed for extended periods, but then escape and clear your mind from all technology-driven stimuli. Dalio likes meditation. I like a 30-minute power nap in the afternoon!
Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
Café Sydney at Customs House is my favourite Sydney restaurant. It has the iconic views over Circular Quay to the harbour, always with a great seasonal mix of seafood, meats and veg dishes. And a very good wine list. Service has always been professional yet personal. Easy to spend several hours there.
What’s your favourite museum in the world?
Well, I can immediately think of three that I visit whenever I am in their midst. National Museum of Singapore has some great exhibits of the pre-Raffles era of Singapore, Victoria & Albert in London has wonderful paintings, but also design, furniture, fashion and jewellery. But the one which always inspires and surprises me is MOMA in New York. Its exhibits span paintings, design, architecture and just about anything that is stylistic that can be viewed from another perspective. Always fascinating.
Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
I’m not sure I’m active on social media, but I am a consistent user. Facebook is my social outreach with my friends. It is also great for boomers like me to stay close to their high school mates and family members overseas. I’ve lost count of how many LinkedIn contacts I have. I manage a couple of LinkedIn groups for industry talk forums. Probably my favourite is Twitter which I use for distributing and collecting views on a very wide range of subjects. Some are even investment-related.
Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
Secret and guilty pleasures? Hmm, how about three unknown secrets that only those present heretofore have been privy? I was born in Calcutta, India and I always listen to Bollywood songs when I’m preparing Indian food. I played Björn Borg in a junior tennis tournament in 1972 and won five games. I once pitched to a Russian investor in the early 2000s, in Switzerland, who put his holstered gun on the table next to his copy of my presentation.
What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
Great question! So many men do have their “armour” on when they are in the workplace. I used to be one of them. Mind you, the type of armour changed over the years from 1985. Unless I am meeting a new person for work or for our foundation, I’m usually in smart casual gear. But I do wear two special accessories. One is a custom-made belt from a saltwater croc which reminds me of the beast – within? – that was culled to make it. Even the deadliest beast can end up as an accessory. The other is one of a series of Buddhist bead bracelets I have that remind me to be calm, kind and forgiving.
Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
Always! I played competitive tennis at a reasonably high level until I was 25. As a junior, I found that I hated losing matches more than I enjoyed winning them. It used to eat me up whenever I lost. I found that I was playing “not to lose” rather than playing to win. I had to change that habit. So very early in my career, I found that winning had to be a goal and it had to be celebrated. Positive reinforcement does change one’s behaviour. For me, I vocalise my wins either to myself or whoever is in earshot. Perhaps some alcohol is involved along with the vocals. But much more these days, I enjoy vocalising other people’s wins. Often one doesn’t win just through singular effort. It usually involves other people, a confluence of action, and often luck, is necessary to get the result.
What makes you happy?
I had to learn to exist in the present and not find myself always looking forwards or backwards for fulfillment. So today, sunsets over the Indian ocean make me happy. The sound of my wife singing somewhere in the house gives me immense enjoyment because I know she is happy. Seeing the faces of the charity workers at our industry fundraiser, Hedge Funds Rock, makes me happy.