Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Kaia Parv in Singapore.
From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
Being a typical millennial I prefer consuming daily news on my iPad. On top of the usual financial media, such as Bloomberg, FT and the Economist, I am a big fan of the Real Vision channel. Also, I like to use aggregators, like the Feedly app, in order to access a number of websites and blogs, such as Zero Hedge, Project Syndicate, Calculated Risk, The Diff, The MacroTourist and Seeking Alpha without too much effort.
What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
After two months of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, I feel weekends have unfortunately lost their meaning. But back in the day, I would always hit the gym on Saturdays for an extended session, followed by sauna. Sundays are spent purely on reading and catching up with friends across the globe.
Can you name a great book you have recently read?
I’ve read a few these recent weeks but two names really stand out. The first is “The Escape from Balance Sheet Recession and the QE Trap: A Hazardous Road for the World Economy” by Richard Koo – extremely insightful book that every money manager should read. The second is “Becoming” by Michelle Obama – I would recommend the Audible version. She is such a down-to-earth and kind-hearted lady and I think it really transmits throughout the book.
Your soundtrack of choice?
Depends on the activity and time of day – anything from jazz-soul-disco-hip hop-metal to drum and bass. More upbeat tunes for workouts, binaural beats and chants for relaxing.
What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
I start and I end my day with water, drinking of lots of coffee between those hours.
What’s the worst money mistake you’ve made?
Buying levered oil ETFs back in 2012 for my personal account.
Have you ever had a great mentor and what did you learn?
I’ve been very lucky to have a number of great mentors throughout my professional life. I think they have all taught me to be self-confident but also ensuring that self-confidence is stemming from doing my job well and excelling at every level.
What gives you energy?
I’m a big fan of 6:30 am workouts, followed by sauna and a cold shower. I literally feel invincible walking to the office after a morning exercise. I also tend to get a lot of energy from high quality and meaningful conversations, either with family and friends or with colleagues and clients.
How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
I have built a mini routine for myself that I adhere to every single day. I start my day with a 45-minute yoga session, followed by breathwork exercises and a quick meditation. Then I have a cold shower and black coffee. Before sunset I try to go for a walk and then do another workout session at home with dumbbells I managed to procure before lockdown. This routine forms the core structure of my day and I build the rest of my schedule around it. I try to compartmentalise the chaos happening in the world by focusing on my mini routine and just build the rest of the schedule around it.
Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
Mikla, a restaurant in Istanbul. It offers fabulous Turkish cuisine and breathtaking views of Istanbul.
What’s your favourite museum in the world?
Patarei prison museum in Tallinn, Estonia. This building was initially a sea fortress overlooking the Bay of Tallinn built by emperor Nikolai I in 1840; however, between 1919 and 2005 it was used a prison. Patarei has a very notorious reputation because the communist regime used it as a final stop for thousands of victims before they were either executed or sent to Gulag camps. You can almost feel the devastation inside the complex, walking in execution and isolation chambers, or looking at the murals that the prisoners have painted.
Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
I’m an active user of LinkedIn to keep in touch with my network across the industry. I also like to use Twitter passively – just reading tweets by a number of fund managers, traders and economists. I use Facebook and Instagram on a very limited basis. It seems all the cool folk has moved to TikTok these days and I don’t want to download that app.
Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
Related to the previous question – I like to follow certain Instagram pages that post silly videos and memes. Once I find something funny I can spend a long time laughing at that.
What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
In the COVID-19 world, I’ve become lazy, so the best I can do is wearing shorts and a T-shirt. On normal days, whatever that means going forward, I prefer dresses as they are easy to iron and don’t take too much room in my gym bag.
Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
Yes, always. I ensure I take a moment to acknowledge that the win was thanks to my hard work and really absorb that.
What makes you happy?
A breeze of fresh air, sunny weather, the sound of the ocean, my friends and family and sleeping in my own bed.