Shout It Out Loud

Hedge fund industry interviews

 

In addition to our daily news feed, Hedge Funds Club’s Shout it out loud publishes interviews with interesting hedge fund managers and other senior industry figures that have something to say.


The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 4: Ashley Tang

Ashley Tang

Ashley Tang

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 Ashley Tang in Hong Kong.

 

From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?

I get my news updates by iPhone or directly to my email. For news on the hedge fund industry, I read a lot off Bloomberg and local launches from HFM. For leisure, some of my favourite articles focus on health and wellness off Mind Body Green and for perspective I like op-eds in Foreign Affairs.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I cook a lot, hike, and call my family and friends during weekends. I don’t go out too much for drinks, it’s kind of rare, and prefer good day-time chat.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“The Kremlin’s Candidate” by Jason Matthews as well as “Attached” by Amir Levine, MD and Rachel S.F. Heller, MA.

 

Soundtrack of choice?

Some good throwback R&B and hip hop! Love old school playlists.

 

What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?

Tea with milk and lots of water during days and evenings.

 

What gives you energy?

Being around a group of energetic people and laughing.

 

How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?

I take everything day by day and I go at my own pace. In times like these, I will shut off the news and will reach out to friends and family to connect so we can share our day together.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

I’m a food writer so there’s a lot of places I like in Hong Kong. But a memorable restaurant that I discovered when it first opened was Arbor.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris! It’s smaller in square footage and less overwhelming versus the Louvre and The Met, focusing on a handful of impressionist and post-impressionist artists making art more digestible. Also, Monet is one of my favourite artists and I could be surrounded by eight large “Water Lilies” murals every day.

 

Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?

As a young professional, yes, but my social media use has decreased over the years. I use it mostly to post my food articles and promote restaurants/bars I wrote on, and other local businesses I work with for marketing. It’s a great hobby!

 

Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?

Honestly, chips and looking at memes – I can’t help it. Also, reading food reviews from the New York Times. I like how articulate and sarcastic they can be.

 

What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?

That’s a good question. I guess it depends on the day! I like floral print or neutral colour dresses.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

No matter how big or small the wins, I think it’s important to acknowledge every milestone. Sometimes I like going out for dinner with a friend to celebrate or I will call my mom and dad.

 

What makes you happy?

Oh my, I feel I have a lot of answers for this question but I am happy when I achieved my goals or know the effort I put into a project, tasks, etc. show a successful outcome. It makes me happy to be around people and have a great conversation whether for work, connecting with other industry professionals, or meeting or being with friends.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 3: Peter Douglas

Peter Douglas

Peter Douglas

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 Peter Douglas in Japan.

 

From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?

BBC News and the New York Times, through their apps; also the Economist Espresso but that’s mostly for the quote of the day. Increasingly, LinkedIn posts lead me to other news sources so from time to time I see Bloomberg, Nikkei and others.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

My work week hasn’t discriminated against Saturdays and Sundays for the last 25 years or more! I unwind in increments every day and work, whether a lot or a little, every day of the week too, although I do try to stay at or around home at the weekends. Unwinding often means studying some Japanese, my working language these days, but it’s still embarrassingly clunky; working outside – I’m the world’s worst gardener but I’m working on it; baking bread – real men bake sourdough, or watching something well-made on Netflix before I go to bed.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I used to read extensively and voraciously; when I was a small child, I spent almost all my free time in my mother’s library and marvelled at how books could take me anywhere in the world, to any time period, to any experience. Now I read only intermittently and I’ve not read any fiction that I’d call “great” for some years now. I’d love to get back to reading once – if – life slows down a bit.

 

Soundtrack of choice?

Eclectic. Mornings generally classical, but that could be opera, baroque, chamber, ecclesiastical… Later, absolutely anything from koto to electronica to ballads to old rock’n’roll to jazz to dub, to, really, whatever. Music is the wallpaper of my life. The first thing I do in the morning and the first thing I do when I come home is to turn on the stereo. At major change points in my life since my early teens, I’ve always listened to a lot of Captain Beefheart; the wildness of his music is, oddly, a stable reference point to benchmark where I am with everything at a given point in time.

 

What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?

I start with a glass of grapefruit juice and a mug of super strong black coffee. I often finish the day with a wild thyme liqueur that I make myself.

 

What gives you energy?

Most days I wake early and head off into the woods around our house for an hour. In the winter that’s on cross-country skis – there’s snow around us for five months of the year – and in the summer that’s a trail run. I’m nowhere close to athletic these days but I love the feeling of physical exertion and the solitude of being completely alone in a forest for a while at the beginning of the day – it’s my meditation and sets the direction of the day.

 

How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?

I don’t worry about things that aren’t yet a problem. And if something is a problem, I don’t apportion blame neither to others nor to myself, but try to get on with fixing it. If ultimately, it’s not fixable, always remember that somewhere in the world things are worse and that this, too, shall pass. When the going gets tough, I work hard at avoiding stress: stress leads to bad decisions and unhappiness; it’s infectious, so I try to avoid stressed people too, and damaging.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Tensuzu. It’s a third-generation Edo-style tempura restaurant in Ueno Hirokouji in Tokyo. I first went there in 1988 and now usually go every couple of months. I not only love the food and the passion and care with which its prepared and the classic calm feeling of the place, but I’ve become good friends with the master so it feels like dropping in on a neighbour.

 

Peter Douglas

Peter Douglas

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Moderna Museet in Stockholm. I spent many days there as a kronorless teenage hitchhiker looking for free warmth in the Swedish midwinter and came to love it. Last year I managed to go back with some close friends. I like modern art museums generally but that one, in particular, has the right mix of hilarity, surprise, amazement and bourgeois-meets-outré.

 

Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?

I look at LinkedIn regularly and post quite often mostly to support the work of the CAIA Association. I’ve noticed that there’s an inverse relationship between the importance of what I have to say and how many people seem to be interested! However, it’s a good source of interesting news and information that I might not otherwise have found and the messaging service is increasingly my default for contacting people outside my circle of immediate colleagues. I’m only “linked” to people that I can in some way vouch for from experience and I ignore requests from people I don’t know or have only met briefly – I do worry whether that makes me seem a bit of a grump, though. I don’t use any other social media personally.

 

Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?

Soft black liquorice. I can eat a whole bag at a time. And I do the New York Times crossword every day, regardless of how busy I am.

 

What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?  

These days, no special battle dress – I wear whatever the weather demands. That’s a huge change from when I first started work in the asset management industry in the City of London in 1985. Always a tie and always well knotted at all times, always a good suit – I spent my entire second month’s salary on getting a suit made, and never regretted it, and black-laced shoes. Slip-ons implied you were a bit, well, slippery, and a colleague was once sent home for wearing brown shoes to work. You could get a tad funky with your cufflinks – those little colourful silk balls were quite the thing in the mid-80s – within reason a little adventurous with your tie so long as it was good quality and silk, paisley was a step too far, though, but certainly not with the colours of the stripes of your shirt – blue or pink, and absolutely not with either the colour or patterns of your socks, which were black. White shirts were for the porters, and solid colours unheard of anywhere in the office. Only directors sported handkerchiefs in their jacket pockets. Now THAT was battle dress.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Not really; life’s a journey and celebrating any single “win” along the way would seem to tempt fate. Similarly, I don’t wallow when there’s a failure. But if an achievement is a team event, then, of course, it should be celebrated and I’ll go along with what the team wants.

 

What makes you happy?

My wonderful wife who makes every day richer; seeing my kids successfully running their own lives and becoming good human beings; knowing that over the years I’ve kick-started a lot of careers for young people; my physical locale of mountain and forest; the changing seasons; being surrounded by honest and hard-working people; having more money than I need to live on but not so much as to warp me. At a more visceral level, riding a big motorbike on a winding road in the summer or a snowmobile through a wild snowstorm. Good craft beer, good cheese, marmite. So long as I can honestly say I’ve done something to make the world a fractionally better place each day, I sleep soundly and look forward to the next day.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 2: Scott Treloar

Scott Treloar

Scott Treloar

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 Scott Treloar, Founder of Noviscient in Singapore.

 

From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?

BBC News, FT, WSJ, SCMP, Al Jazeera, NY Times – all via iPhone and iPad.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Reading, Netflix/Prime/HBO, some running or weights.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I read a lot so I don’t want to give you just one. I tend to get reference books in physical form and story books on Kindle or Audible. Let me give you an eclectic list of books for readers out there: “The Murderbot Diaries” by Martha Wells, “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” and “The Order of Time” by Carlo Rovelli, “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez, “True Names” by Vernor Vinge, “Why Information Grows” by César Hidalgo, “Robopocalypse” by Daniel Wilson, “Book of Proof” by Richard Hammack, “Odyssey Series” by Evan Currie, “Moonglow” by Michael Chabon and “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson.

 

What is your soundtrack of choice?

My favourite genre is Australian indie-pop. Currently, I’m listening to “Salt” by Angie McMahon.

 

What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?

Long black coffee and water to finish.

 

What gives you energy?

Ideas give me energy. Other people tend to drain my energy. I used to have the nickname of Phantom because I would just disappear when my energy levels became too depleted.

 

How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?

Personally, I know that if you fly too high and piss too many people off, when you inevitably come back down to the ground you will regret it. In a business sense, we try to remember that we are working to improve the investment management industry which is an important mission for anyone who has investments or savings.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Not really. If I could take in my nutrients and energy needs efficiently by drip-feed I would.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

I never quite got the museum thing of looking at actual historical objects. Instead, I prefer to understand historical perspectives through books. Examples are: “A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind” if you want to understand the Middle East, and the genesis of some of the major religions, and “War and Peace” and “Crime and Punishment” for the European/Russian perspective.

 

Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?

I use LinkedIn to try to communicate what we are trying to do at Noviscient and to try to communicate some ideas on how investment management should operate. Not as successfully as I would like! I also like Twitter to stay in touch with what is happening around the world – it provides good and rapid updates as things change.

 

Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?

World of Warcraft, science fiction books and Kit Kats.

 

What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?

As an Australian, if there is a range of acceptable attire for a situation, I will generally be at or near the lower boundary. I suspect this is bad, but I can’t help it.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Building a business from scratch is a series of challenges. Wins are less frequent, sadly. We do have the occasional dinner, but we should probably do more here.

 

What makes you happy?

Hanging out with my wife and son. And Kit Kats. 

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 1: Stephen Fisher

Fish

Stephen Fisher

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. First out is Stephen Fisher, the Founder and CIO of First Degree Global Asset Management in Singapore.

 

From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?

My trusty Samsung Note 8 delivers the morning news primarily sourced from Reuters, Bloomberg and the BBC. My phone wakes me up around 4am to catch the Wall Street close. I prefer facts rather than opinions since I have enough opinions of my own. Fake news doesn’t seem to pressure my inbox at all. I still don’t understand Twitter – but that’s just my generation.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Normal family stuff plus a trip to my cellar. Yesterday I made pizza from scratch (yeast, flour, water, sugar, olive oil, cheese, tomato, etc) and fired in the barbecue. The children are very entertaining. Sometimes we go to soccer, sometimes we go fishing, sometimes we TikTok. The cellar trip takes about 30 seconds and I always select a bottle to spoil myself.

Pizza by Dr Fish

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” was a gift from a client, so I read it. I was astonished that the actual text was only 60 pages while the foreword, introduction and extensive translation and endnotes accounted for 200 pages! The actual book was shorter than the filler! Kind of like going to the movies and watching all the trailers only to find that the main feature is 10 minutes long… I didn’t find the book gave me the sort of cultural insight into the Chinese mind that others tout. But I am just a mathematician. I did enjoy the final chapter on the use of fire in warfare since it must have been a game-changing technology back in its day. The tone of the book took on a fiendish excitement just like when we switch on our new custom computer with all the goodies.

 

What is your soundtrack of choice?

Anything by DJ Dr Fish. Available on Soundcloud. https://soundcloud.com/stephen-john-fisher

 

What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?

In the morning I generally start with soda water and at night I finish with soda water. In between is where the fun can be found. Coffee must be consumed before 12 if I am ever to have a chance of sleeping. Wine features every day in some form or other – white, red, bubbles, fortified. Cider has crept into the refrigerator recently. Sake is one of the world’s underrated pleasures. I definitely don’t drink protein shakes!

 

What gives you energy?

Something that makes me think. I remember being asked on CNBC what my view on that evening’s Non-Farm Payrolls was. I responded dutifully and mechanically but not really with the kind of energy and excitement that I would have liked. Were the question something like – “Is the current Covid-19 event best analysed as a pandemic or as a set of localised epidemics?” – then I would have been far more animated. That question raises all sorts of issues, both from an epidemiological and an economic perspective. The answer is not immediately clear so it is energising to just start thinking about the direct issues it raises as well as the indirect issues and related adjacencies.

 

How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?

The more crises you live through the easier it is to just sit calmly and wait. Markets are inherently cyclical, they go up and down, and just as surely as the market goes down it will change direction and recover at some point in the future. The first market collapse I experienced was the gold/silver bust in 1980. I was around for the 1987 crash, the 1997 Asia crisis, the dotcom bust in 2001, the GFC – which was a long one! – and our current Covid-19 crisis. Not to mention the minor crises such as the Taper-Tantrum in 2013 and the Trump-dump in 2016. Experience helps you cope with the burning uncertainties. Will it ever end? Yes. What do I do? Don’t panic, be patient.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Japan takes the prize for the best restaurants in the world. I don’t like over the top fancy restaurants with 25-course degustation menus, blah blah blah. I like honest, enjoyable brilliance. There are so many but the yakitori shop in Ginza called Torishige, across the road from Barneys NY, is truly memorable, particularly the little man carrying the kettle of hot sake.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The original Guggenheim in uptown New York. I feel like I am inside a honeycomb.

 

Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?

From time to time I add blog posts to LinkedIn for no other reason than to get it out there for people to read. Social media has gone from being an information repository to a DIY advertising agency which devalues the resource. Whereas businesses once needed a “social media strategy”, the public is now sceptical of how independent the reviews and recommendations actually are. There is room for a classified Independent social media but exactly how this would work and be trusted is anyone’s guess.

 

Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to find a great wine and NOT share it with anyone!

 

What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?

I am a conformist when it comes to work dress. At business school, I was told that “you don’t go to work to make a fashion statement” and this still resonates. That said, I prefer coloured shirts over white shirts – they cost the same and you get the colour for free – and textured cloth over plain. Pinstripes are fun as are bold patterns and French cuffs. Having a suit tailored is an experience everyone should suffer. However, this is all for other people.  If I could simply wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt to every meeting, I would be happy.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

No, I don’t. We live in a stochastic world and each win is almost as likely to be followed by some sort of setback sometime in the future. The key to surviving is to win a bit, lose a little bit less and repeat. A five-year track record takes, well, five years to build. You need to keep sight of the game and not let early success fool you into believing that you are invincible.

 

What makes you happy?

I really love my family and my children in particular.

Interview: Eric Bernstein, President, Broadridge Asset Management Solutions

Eric Bernstein of Broadridge

Eric Bernstein of Broadridge

As fintech leader Broadridge keeps expanding in Asia and globally, HFC’s Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Broadridge’s Eric Bernstein about its asset management solutions.

 

As a global fintech leader supporting financial institutions across global and Asian markets, how do you support the operational and technology needs of hedge funds in Asia?

Broadridge has developed a strong presence in Asia and our business is continuing to expand. What differentiates our offering for hedge funds and asset managers more broadly is the strength of our services for clients across three areas – people, processes and products. We have the right people and talent with the best knowledge of their local domain, backed with the right language abilities and jurisdictional know-how. We provide asset managers and hedge funds the ability to outsource key front-to-back office processes, helping reduce the complexity of their businesses. Our solutions help future proof the business of our clients through process automation and our investments in new technologies.

 

How does Broadridge contribute to the success of your hedge fund clients and where are you helping address some of the revenue pressures that the industry faces?

Taking a step back, we have seen many in the hedge fund space onboard new systems from the lowest-cost providers. At first glance, this can be attractive as a basic level of operating capability for the standard long-short strategies and can be provided at a low price point on flexible terms. This works great if you only want to do one thing, but with this comes restrictions on growth and expansion. What Broadridge offers our hedge fund clients is the genuine ability to differentiate their businesses. Our offering is highly flexible and we find many clients need the ability to be nimble. This allows hedge funds to be opportunistic in their investment offering and easily expand into new asset classes or geographies without having to upgrade their technology. We help our clients scale their business, keep pace with growing regulatory and client demands, shift to new asset classes and new strategies. This helps managers to future proof their business and attract more investment.

 

Where are you seeing investment managers adapt most quickly to new technologies to deliver better performance?

Among asset managers, hedge funds as a group have often been the nimblest in adopting new technologies. In the same way, this is reflected in their approach to trading as – they wake up, see a headline and want to move and trade on it. This is similar to what Broadridge is able to provide – the ability for our technology and services to scale as much as our hedge fund clients need, whenever they need it. We have the manpower and global infrastructure to allow managers to expand and differentiate their operations as they best see fit. If safety and security is the priority, Broadridge is the right trusted partner in this space.

 

In an increasingly data-driven world, how might managers better address some of the longer-term reporting and transparency demands?

Reporting and transparency all come down to data and how well and how fast you can structure it to fit specific requirements. Broadridge works with structured and unstructured data through partnerships with the best third-party data processing and visualisation providers like Tableau. Based on specific reporting and compliance needs, we disseminate data to managers on our centralised platform. This can even be done in real-time across portfolios, asset classes and more.

 

How do you see technology transformation progressing in Asia?

A key trend I have seen is that Asia is the fastest moving market, adapting to the transformational challenges that the asset management industry has faced. At the same time, businesses will always have to be constantly prepared for the next major disruption and resulting industry transformations. That is where Broadridge has been able to act as a strong partner to our clients. We prepare their businesses to be ready for what’s next in two, five or ten years’ time, while also consistently delivering the best of what is available and needed today.

(Feb 2020)

Interview: Shiv Sehgal of Edelweiss

Shiv Sehgal of Edelweiss

Shiv Sehgal of Edelweiss

Edelweiss has grown to become one of India’s leading financial services firms. The firm services hedge funds and other buy-side clients globally, with a specific focus on helping them with the Indian market. Last month, Edelweiss was one of the sponsors of the Hedge Funds Club’s year-end event in Tokyo and HFC’s Stefan Nilsson took the opportunity to have a chat with Shiv Sehgal, President and Co-Head, Institutional Clients Group at Edelweiss.

 

How is India shaping up in the overall emerging market pack after all the structural reforms are underway?

Well, 2019 has been one of the worst years for the Indian economy from a growth perspective. Whatever could potentially go wrong went wrong – all-time low credit growth, electricity generation contracting, double-digit contraction in autos, etc. However, I think things are finally looking better. First, with the Fed resuming balance sheet expansion, global financial conditions are easing – this should put a floor under the falling global activity. Second, India’s rural economy has been in deep distress in the last three-to-five years. With food prices normalising, farm sector cash flows should improve. This will aid, rural consumption. Third, RBI has been very pro-active on the liquidity front. This will reduce risk aversion and improve transmission. Hence, to that extent, we think that 2020 could therefore very well be the year of a cyclical recovery for the economy. A cyclical recovery will help reversion in profitability metrics such as corporate profits to GDP ratio, return on equity, profit to sales etc, all of which have been declining for over a decade and are at multi-year lows currently. Also, from a micro outlook perspective, the tight liquidity and growth slowdown of the last two years led to sharp risk aversion and balance sheet was the most important criteria for investing. However, with liquidity now easing and markets being extremely polarised, it is important that investors shift focus from balance sheet to P&L and more importantly valuations. Hence, we would hunt for stocks with cheap valuations and depressed earnings in sectors which are exposed to global economy (metals, export auto), rural economy (tractor companies, agrochemicals), rate sensitives (industrials, auto ancillary) and select NBFCs. I would like to add that Indians comprise roughly one-sixth of the world, one-fifth of internet users and one-fourth of digital consumers – what many consider to be the world’s biggest and mostly untapped digital market. Yet, internet penetration in rural India is still only 18%, compared to 59% in its cities. This has huge investment implications for this new decade.

 

How is Edelweiss placed in this space?

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, we have evolved our product suite, our orientation, people skills, systems, risk and governance structures to service clients both domestic and global who believe in the India growth story. This single-minded focused, dedicated mindset has made Edelweiss successful in putting India on the map of global investments, be it alternatives, distress debt, capital markets, fixed income or ESG. What started in 1996 with $30,000 in revenue is today in its 25th year, one of India’s largest diversified financial players with close to a billion dollars in revenue. We believe 2020 is a year of normalisation – normalisation of liquidity, exports and food prices. This should drive a normalisation in markets as well, as mid-sized firms, intermediaries, ancillary, etc. that have been hit over the past 18 months, catch-up with their larger peers and start delivering numbers. That segment of the market has traditionally been our sweet spot, whether it’s bringing these firms to market or just the existing listed space where we have one of the widest coverage amongst the major brokerages.

 

How does 2020 look like from a hedge fund perspective?

While the frontline indices have returned around 11% in the calendar year – returns have been highly concentrated in the top 10-15 names only. Also, 2019 has come on the back of years disrupted by demonetisation and GST implementation which has had its share in slowing the economy further. We believe, for hedge funds to make a comeback in 2020, what’s needed is broad basing of returns beyond the top 10-15 names, less disruptive policies and hopefully less domestic disruptions. India has been a challenging market for the classic long-short funds as liquidity beyond the index names tends to be a challenge. Given that structure, BFSI and consumer tend to be sectors that are most popular with hedge funds. Last year, post the ILFS issue, the broader BFSI space saw a massive disruption and the consumer space too has had its share of growth pangs given the broad-based slowdown. Drawing from the earlier point on normalisation, both liquidity and farm price normalisation should bring hedge fund interest back in these sectors and thus revive a broader interest in India. For financials, the additional kicker is the progress we’ve made on bad debt resolution. Having seen some success last year, there is greater confidence in resolutions and these playing out this year. Investors will watch the space closely.

 

What triggered your move from a Wall Street firm to a home-grown Indian conglomerate like Edelweiss?

My own journey has been an unconventional one – after working on the buy-side for well over a decade in Sydney and Singapore, mainly for emerging market hedge funds, I made the career-switch to a global sell-side firm to look after their India institutional trading franchise. This decision was also led at the time by PM Modi’s landslide victory which further bolstered my view that it would create an opportunity and result in a paradigm shift in the country’s economic outlook for years to come. After being in India for a few years now, it is clear to me that a young fast-growing, fiercely competitive and well-regarded platform like Edelweiss was the right fit for me. My new endeavour aims to leverage and build upon my expertise creating a top-class leading Indian equity franchise.

 

How do you see the Edelweiss story unfolding?

Edelweiss is today one of India’s leading financial services conglomerates, offering a robust platform, to a diversified client base across domestic and global geographies. Our continuous and single-minded focus is on understanding customers’ needs and offering the right financial solutions. Being present in every financial life stage of a customer, helping them create, grow and protect their wealth, are our key lines of business. This diversified business model reflects our experience across India’s multiple consuming facets, from industrial behemoths and large companies to small businesses as well as the average Indian urban and rural household. I truly believe that India represents possibly among the best long-term prospects in terms of stability and sustainability and Edelweiss would like to be at the forefront of this wealth creation opportunity for its clients as India embarks on its true potential in the coming decade.

(Jan 2020)

Interview: Jamie Wilson of Cryptoloc Technology

Jamie Wilson

Jamie Wilson

 

Australian businessman Jamie Wilson had a highly successful accounting practice specialising in HNWIs before he established Cryptoloc Technology. Cryptoloc provides cryptographic technology to ensure users have control over the information they store and transmit. In connection with Cryptoloc’s participation as a sponsor of the recent Hedge Funds Club year-end event in Tokyo, HFC’s Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Jamie.

 

You launched Cryptoloc Technology in 2010 in Brisbane, Australia. Prior to that, you ran an accounting practice for HNWIs. What made you launch a cybersecurity firm?

It was out of a  devastating life event that started me on the journey of cybersecurity. In 2010 I lost my father to pancreatic cancer and the struggle to find his crucial documents such as will, insurance policies and share portfolio. This led me on a search for a secure legacy product and when it didn’t exist, I made the decision to create one. This then led to another search to find data security capable of protecting such valuable documents, which again I did not find, so I began the pursuit of creating that too.

 

Cryptoloc is focused on data security and cloud storage solutions. Do you think growth is driven by ever-increasing legal and compliance requirements or actual security concerns and threats?

I would say the growth is from the increasing cyber warfare that we are facing today. With data more valuable than oil, people are starting to understand the value of their data and privacy. This drives the increasing legal and compliance demands as they try to keep up and ensure that best practices are being implemented to protect people’s data and privacy.

 

What are the most important security issues fund managers and investors should be aware of today?

Cyber warfare is only on the increase with data and privacy continues to be in the world’s top five properties. Email has become a convenience that we take for granted, but it is both not secure and also the medium through which many security breaches occur.

 

Was it easy to put together a world-class tech and business team in Brisbane or did you have to bring in people from elsewhere?

It was not easy as a lot of people thought I was crazy when I wanted to create a virtual vault that only you had access to. It was in 2012 that we first cut code and that was because my first engineer lost his mother suddenly and understood the value of what I wanted to achieve.

Jamie Wilson with fellow attendees at the Tokyo Hedge Funds Club evening on 2nd December.

Jamie Wilson with fellow attendees at the Tokyo Hedge Funds Club evening.

Do you feel that it is sometimes hard to bridge the worlds of tech on the one side and business and investment professionals on the other side?

Yes. Why? Because there is so much noise around cybersecurity solutions and large investments that have not been successful in delivering on what was promised. So, when looking for investment, many investors have lost money on other security investments creating a challenge for us to gain their trust.

 

Is there a cultural mountain to climb or do both sides understand each other and speak the same language?

I don’t believe there is a cultural mountain to climb. I would say it’s a confidence issue.

 

What makes Cryptoloc different from other security services and solutions available to investors and fund managers?

Cryptoloc stands guard protecting your data when it is stored, in use or during transfer. We do this through encryption technology that puts you in full control of your information. Cryptoloc is an encryption technology solution giving you full control as the owner of the data through a unique patented system that turns each file you create into three separate encrypted pieces of data which are sorted separately in the cloud.

(Dec 2019)

Interview: Rod Kafer, World Cup-winning rugby player and prime broker, sums up the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Rod-Kafer-Invast-Global (002)The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is over. Rod Kafer, who won the 1999 Rugby World Cup with Australia and then stayed involved with rugby as a coach and TV commentator, is now working with Hedge Funds Club sponsor Invast Global’s prime brokerage team in Sydney. Having attended the Sydney Hedge Funds Club event in September, Kafer then travelled to Japan to cover the World Cup for Fox Sports. HFC’s Stefan Nilsson met up with Rod Kafer in Tokyo during the World Cup and following the final got Kafer to sum up his thoughts about the tournament.

 

You spent nearly two months here in Japan as a Rugby World Cup TV commentator for Fox Sports. Apart from seeing a lot of rugby, what did you experience during this extended stint in Japan?

Having been to Japan for rugby previously on a few occasions I had a reasonable idea of what to expect. However, what surprised me most, was the passion and support that the Japanese people had for the game and the traditions of the game. To see Japanese couples in the stands wearing opposing teams’ jerseys as supporters and yet managing to sing the national anthems prior to the match for both sides, was something I have never seen before. The willingness of the local community to embrace a foreign sport as in-depth as the people did, truly shows the level of engagement the game garnered over the seven weeks of the tournament. Any visit to Japan would not be complete without a review of the food and drink consumed, and what a culinary experience it was. From the island of Hokkaido enjoying the king crab and my favourite beer ever tasted – The Sapporo Classic, it’s so good that it is only available in Sapporo and not exported off the Island; or heart-warming ramen after onsen in the south in Oita on Kyushu; to any of the various dishes on offer in Tokyo, the food was never a disappointment and I enjoyed every meal. Former Japan and Suntory coach Keisuke Sawaki took me for a feast at a favourite sushi restaurant in Gonpachi, and it is hard to put into words how magnificent the food was, washed down with a Suntory Malt Beer, of course, then followed with a Roku gin and tonic, a drink that Eddie Jones was advertising – was some experience on a number of different levels.

Rod Kafer and his fellow Rugby World Cup Winner Tim Horan with HFC's Stefan Nilsson and his family during the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Rod Kafer and his fellow Rugby World Cup Winner Tim Horan with HFC’s Stefan Nilsson and his family during the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Host nation Japan, for the very first time, went through the group stages unbeaten – including great victories over Ireland and Scotland – and made it to the quarter-finals where South Africa proved too tough. Was Japan’s Brave Blossoms’ success a surprise to you?

Every Rugby World Cup has produced teams that have surprised – Japan has now done it twice! I recall seeing Japan play in 1987 prior to the Rugby World Cup and losing to New Zealand by over 100 points, to see them play in 2015 as they did and so narrowly miss the quarter-finals was a shame and suspected they had the ability to improve whilst playing at home. However defeating Ireland this time, a team who had only weeks before been the number one team in the world, was breathtaking; then to back it up over Scotland – who they failed to beat in 2015, proved they not only have the courage but the tactics, the skills and the playing depth, to be a team who could be a top 8 team in the world in the near future. Losing in a quarter-final to the eventual winners of the tournament, in a game where the Springboks had to revert to a style of play designed to bludgeon Japan, fearing they did not have the skills to match Japan head-on, reflects how far the team has come and was a sign of respect the Brave Blossoms had amassed in only a matter of weeks. They truly shocked the rugby world.

 

Japan’s playing style, which includes some stunning running rugby, is rather different from the more rough-and-tough rugby of some teams with taller and bigger players. Do you think that Japan’s relative success with its playing style may influence other emerging national teams?

Underestimating the work and effort that the Japanese team put into their preparation for the Rugby World Cup would be an error and easy to overlook, and therefore easy to think they produced a playing style that others could easily replicate. It might appear easy to duplicate, but it’s difficult to perfect a style of play, in the way that the Brave Blossoms did, without the time and commitment to be exceptional at your craft. Japan was expertly coached, over a four-year period, by Jamie Joseph – the former All Black and Brave Blossom player; and Tony Brown, both who have had extensive coaching experience in Japan, and therefore understand the local culture well enough to design strategy to suit their players. What was exceptional about Japan’s play, was the high level of skill that the players showed under pressure in all aspects of the game. Their play evolved into a complete game with few weaknesses and a belief and understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, that opposition teams found difficult to counter. They managed their playing resources in such a way as to get the absolute maximum out of the team they had. They innovated in areas where they were at a disadvantage and then capitalised in the areas where they were better than their opposition. Catching Ireland on a hot, humid night in Shizuoka certainly helped the supremely fit and lighter weight forward pack where team selection from Jamie Joseph played a role in dealing with the conditions on the day, in a game where Japan excelled, and were worthy winners.

 

What do you think the success of Japan as a Rugby World Cup host nation will mean for rugby’s future?

The great challenge for Japan rugby and indeed world rugby is to build a legacy that lasts for generations. It was obvious that the Japanese population embraced the game and the tournament. With the success that Japan had, the opportunity exists to promote the game in a way to garner the hearts and minds of the population. Focusing on a grassroots, ground-up approach within schools, with the appropriate level of investment, could deliver a game and a supporter base that will eventually sustain a truly professional competition to augment and capitalise on the existing company-based top league.

HFC's Stefan Nilsson and Invast Global's Rod Kafer at the Sydney Hedge Funds Club in September 2019.

HFC’s Stefan Nilsson and Invast Global’s Rod Kafer at the Sydney Hedge Funds Club in September 2019.

 

Aussie Eddie Jones, a former coach of both Australia and Japan, did rather well at this World Cup, taking England all the way to the final. Do you reckon he should soon come home to Australia and take charge of the Wallabies to bring them back to glory?

Eddie is a world-class coach and has demonstrated that over many years, in a variety of environments, in a variety of roles. Unfortunately, Eddie is contracted with England and therefore not an option to coach the Wallabies. I am encouraged however by the recent appointment of Dave Rennie to the Wallabies. Dave is an excellent coach with a fantastic pedigree and a proven history of success. I am looking forward to seeing him continue that in Wallaby Gold.

 

South Africa are the new world champions of rugby. Did you expect them to do this well prior to the Rugby World Cup starting?

Yes, I did. I had predicted the final prior to the tournament, however, had England winning over South Africa, so got that wrong! South Africa had all the elements needed to perform well in a World Cup, and as is often the way, did not have to beat the best team in the world, as England did it for them in the epic semi-final. South Africa was able to preserve the most amount of energy in the group stages adopting a conservative game plan that allowed them to play the final at a pace that England was unable to compete with. They were excellently prepared and peaked for the final to perfection. The return of Cheslin Kolbe was a major boost for the psyche of the team and his try late in the match showed the quality of the world-class finisher. The Springboks were worthy three-time champions.

 

Your fellow Fox Sports commentator is Tim Horan, a two-time World Cup winner with the Wallabies. Is there a bit of rivalry between the two of you in the studio or are you just good mates supporting each other?

I am fortunate to work with some of the greatest players in Wallaby history – not just Horan, but Gregan, Kearns, Martin, Hoiles, Harrison and Mitchell – they make a pretty formidable line up of talent. Whilst not all of us have played directly with each other, we all cross over in a way that everyone has played with at least two others on the list and therefore we have, what Justin Harrison likes to refer to as a “golden thread” running through us. We are all great mates and enjoy one another’s company.

HFC's Stefan Nilsson with Rod Kafer in Tokyo during the Rugby World Cup.

HFC’s Stefan Nilsson with Rod Kafer in Tokyo during the Rugby World Cup.

You and several other former rugby stars have made the transition into successful business careers. Is it the competitive instincts and winner mentality that help some former rugby players succeed in business?

One of the great challenges as a former player, is you have a career in rugby until sometime in your mid-30s, if you are lucky, and may have had some great highs, and certainly some lows as well, and then often transition into a completely new industry, which may have little applicability to your time in the game. Whilst you have garnered certain skills during your playing career, you have also missed many of the lessons that you would have learnt had you followed a more traditional business or career path through your 20s and 30s. After the game, you can find yourself as a rookie in a new industry at the age of 35, 40, or sometimes 47, as I have, and need to learn and adapt as quickly as you can to be successful. I think one of the greatest challenges for ex-sportspeople, is trying to replicate the enjoyment you had as a player, playing the game you loved, in a new environment that is not as fulfilling as playing a sport for a living. I think the competitive instincts that sportspeople have are often specific to the sport they play, and at times do not translate outside of that world. Certainly, in business I have met incredibly focused and competitive people equal to any of the great rugby players’ competitive instincts, however, sportspeople are typically able to bring a work ethic and sense of teamwork that most businesses value. For many sportspeople, the measure of success in business probably has more to do with their ability to find joy in their new career. I have been involved in several businesses since finishing as a player. I have founded and sold a couple of businesses and had success and failure in business as in life. However, my time at Invast Global has been immensely enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. I consider that to be an outstanding success and look forward to it continuing.

(Dec 2019)

Interview: Pauline Chrystal – portfolio manager and pastry chef

Pauline Chrystal

Pauline Chrystal

In Australia, HFC’s Stefan Nilsson stumbled upon a portfolio manager who is also a pastry chef. Stefan couldn’t resist having a chat with Pauline Chrystal, portfolio manager at Kapstream Capital in Sydney, about her somewhat unusual parallel career in investment management and French pastry.

 

How did you in the middle of a successful career in finance and investments decide to become a pastry chef and launch your French pastry business by Pauline?

 I had worked in finance in France, Hong Kong and Singapore for close to nine years, going through the global financial crisis and very unstable markets, both financial and job markets, with rounds of cost-cutting and headcount reductions making headlines too often. At that time, my husband who is from Sydney wanted to relocate from Singapore to Australia and I saw it as a good opportunity to take a career break.

 

You have a CFA and an MSc from HEC School of Management, but also a certificate in patisserie from the Le Cordon Bleu Australia-Sydney. Are official qualifications as important in the pastry world as they are in the world of finance?

In any field, I believe experience and hard work always shine through. However, a qualification is a good way to gain credibility when you get started in a field.

 

Your firm By Pauline specialises in modern and delicate French pastries, breaking away from the traditional sponge and buttercream cakes. Are you on a mission to abolish sponge and buttercream cakes?

Not abolish but give another more modern option, which caters beautifully to current trends from dietary requirements to social media.

 

How creative are you when it comes to creating pastry? Do you stick to the French traditions or are you adding some Aussie flair to your offering?

 I go with new techniques but try to use local ingredients to the extent possible

 

From a time-perspective, how do you juggle the two different roles?

I’ve put By Pauline on hold for now. The business was positioned as an artisan handmade pastry catering business. In order to be able to pursue it, I needed to give it full attention, as well as pouring in a significant financial and time investment into hiring and training staff as well as a custom-fitted commercial kitchen. Therefore, I have scaled pastry down to a hobby and am fully focusing back on my PM role.

 

Are you as passionate about finance as you are about pastry?

Both are fulfilling from a different perspective. Finance definitely has less room for creativity but is very intellectually stimulating. Pastry involves hard labour but the end result is more personally rewarding than seeing one of the companies I cover release solid earnings!

(Aug 2019)

Interview: Grace Reyes, President of The Association of Asian American Investment Managers

Grace Reyes of AAAIM

Grace Reyes of AAAIM

HFC’s Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Grace Reyes, the ebullient head of The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM), about the importance of diversity, social media and networking.

 

Tell us about The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM) and its mission.

AAAIM is a non-profit organisation promoting ethnic and gender diversity within the investment industry. An official partner to the largest US public pension plans’ emerging manager, diversity and inclusion efforts, AAAIM’s alliance of prominent, successful Asian American leaders includes an expansive network of seasoned and rising investment managers that handle over one trillion in assets under management. AAAIM’s network provides a forum for professionals in the industry to meet, network and create business opportunities. This network continues to grow as AAAIM further engages more people and raises awareness of the organisation and the importance of their mission internationally.

 

You have a background in alternative investments and finance. How did you end up taking a role leading an industry association?

Prior to AAAIM, I spent time as the Head of Investor Relations & Fundraising at The Reliant Group, a real estate private equity firm with US$2bn in assets under management. I also worked on the corporate and business development team at Switchfly, a travel-tech firm, reporting to the executive suite. What was consistent however across all of my roles was the value of the close rapport I have formed with an array of industry leaders and prominent investors. When the opportunity to lead AAAIM appeared, I realised how valuable those relationships could be to this kind of organisation, as we grow AAAIM’s reach, value and awareness. Being able to share AAAIM’s mission with some of the industry’s best-known investors has been important to our growth as an organisation. I love that I’m able to pull on an important skill set of mine to fuel AAAIM’s future while promoting a mission of gender and ethnic diversity – one that I could not be prouder to represent!

 

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, do you see any dangers that some firms and people are just talking about it to look good rather than actually trying to build organisations that will benefit from proper diversity?

It’s easy to distinguish the organisations that are truly implementing diversity – those are the organisations that are championing the cause through action and not just furthering a message of diversity. I think it’s an important reminder that leadership take an active role in incorporating the change they are seeking through their own actions.

 

You are frequently socialising at industry events and you are also very active with social media. Is it part of your strategy to get AAAIM noticed or is it just the way you are?

I am social by nature! On the side, I’m also the Founder and Co-Host of goodtimesSF, San Francisco’s largest investment networking happy hour. I absolutely love meeting, networking and getting to know diverse individuals across our field. I also believe that being vocal about what we do at AAAIM is critical to our success. It’s important that people know who we are and what we represent. LinkedIn has been a natural venue to spread AAAIM’s message further through my own activity on this channel. It has been a great tool to reach new and greater audiences.

 

You founded investment-industry drinking club goodtimesSF a decade ago. What made you take that initiative?

As the head of fundraising for a private equity group, I was always out networking and wanted to find a more efficient way to connect with industry leaders and investors without having to go out every night. I decided to host happy hour events to bring people together and called it goodtimesSF because I think networking should be something fun! The group took off and grew to become the largest investment happy hour in San Francisco. Co-hosting these events connected me to some amazing individuals that have been pivotal to my career.

 

If you hadn’t worked in the investment industry, what would you have been doing as a career?

I grew up from humble beginnings and remember watching “Pretty Woman” in my youth. I was fascinated with Richard Gere’s career. It was my first exposure to how private equity works and from that point, I knew from this young age that I wanted to work in finance! This makes it hard to think of any other career path. But as I have been travelling all over the world, I wouldn’t mind being a professional jet-setter – is there such a role that exists?

(Aug 2019)