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 21: Yoshinori Nomura

Yoshinori Nomura

Yoshinori Nomura

In a 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 Yoshinori Nomura, CEO and CIO of Mirage Mountain Technologies, in Tokyo.

 

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

Except for normal news sources, I follow many knowledgeable people on Twitter. Hedge fund managers, machine learning engineers, M&A bankers, physicists, executive secretaries, high net worth people, politicians, medical doctors, etc. Their super-quick reactions to the news are a good stimulus for me to rethink my ideas. It is very interesting to me.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

As we cannot go to the gym these days because of COVID-19, I play with my two-year-old kid – catching balls, drawing pictures, building a home athletic set with a jungle gym, a swing and a slide. There is a kind of side effect: The relationship with my wife seems to become better because I have time to take care of my kid more than before.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I don’t read books recently but read machine learning programming-related social media channels and blogs. From this experience, I can learn about great ideas from real geniuses.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

I can only listen to my son’s screams.

 

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

I usually start the day with Doi Coffee which is a very famous traditional coffee boutique in Japan. Their coffee is from a single estate. They only use single farm-made coffee beans. Doi’s beans are grown in highland farms where the big temperature differences in a day make the taste of beans condensed. In the evening, I drink some red wine because my son likes to make a toast with grape juice.

 

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

By not looking at the markets!

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

If you like high-quality sushi, my recommendation is Sushi-Sho Saito. Traditional sushi restaurants provide small seasonal dishes first and then 10 to 15 kinds of sushi will follow. However, the Sushi-Sho restaurants provide seasonal dishes and sushi one after the other. After you finish all the courses of the day, you will be asked if you are full. I usually order only a few kinds of sushi because high-class sushi restaurant usually charges at least 1,000 yen for each additional piece of sushi. But at Saito’s, I guess they don’t or only marginally charge you for additional pieces of sushi as long as you are a good guest. Besides, you can bring babies on weekends!

 

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

I guess that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GitHub are famous, so I mention the following less known ones: Qiita is for Japanese programming engineers. I heavily depend upon this site. This is very concise for beginners because of young engineers post articles about issues and solutions. Thus, I can avoid the same pitfalls and learn a lot. If you are a complete beginner of programming languages such as Python, you should go to Udemy. There are very good online learning courses and themes are diversified so you will never get bored. You can learn about everything from basic Python language to machine learning.

 

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

I like Japanese animation and sometimes I watch them in the middle of the night. The name of my company, Mirage Mountain Technologies, comes from a Japanese cartoon. In the story, there is a mountain called Mirage Mountain. People believe there is a huge amount of gold ingots at the top of the mountain, but no one has ever climbed up to the top before because of the harsh climbing conditions. The mountain is located on some planet in the universe. No one knows the height of the mountain which is surrounded by vertical cliffs and nonstop blizzards. To make matters worse, if climbers’ minds are beaten by the surrounding environment and they think “I can’t go any farther”, “there might not be any gold at the top” or “I shouldn’t have done this crazy challenge”, the mountain suddenly disappears just like a mirage and the climbers fall to their deaths. Yes, it’s a bad one. However, the main character was able to climb up to the top because his purpose was not finding gold but just to save his partner who was supposed to be there waiting for his rescue. The implications of the story are “don’t be afraid of pursuing what you believe in despite other people believing it is too difficult to achieve” and “there is a goal which only those who are inevitably involved in hardship can achieve”. When I was trying to find my strategy, I felt like that I was a climber of the mountain thinking “climb or die”. Therefore, my company is named after a cartoon story that I read in junior high-school.

 

Black swan cufflinks

Black swan cufflinks

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

I normally wear boring business suits. But when the market becomes volatile and fragile, I wear black swan cufflinks to pray for a big turbulent fall. For those who want to get this rare item, I need to tell you that it’s super difficult to find it. I could not find it in Tokyo or Singapore, not even on any online shopping sites. But I finally and fortunately found and bought the cufflinks in a Swarovski boutique at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

I hope I could hold a crowded dance party!

 

What makes you happy?

I am happy when I can sit up late and read machine learning articles.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 20: Omar Taheri

Omar Taheri

Omar Taheri

In a 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 Omar Taheri, founder of Spark Plus, in Singapore.

 

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

The first thing I read in the morning is Bloomberg News to get my daily macro news and an idea of what the larger end of the market is doing. Then following that I do read the Australian Financial Review which gives me an idea of the Australian market given my business is Australian centric. In the evening then for a global perspective, I get my dose of BBC News and CNN and if I need a bit of a laugh some Fox News.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I very much enjoy playing cricket on the weekends which keeps me busy for 6-8 hours and gets me up early rather than sleeping in. Then I do enjoy making a target of listening to one audiobook over the weekend on Audible. Otherwise, on the non-productive front, I play a bit of Fortnite and try to cook a nice tomahawk steak.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

One of the best books that I have read recently has been “Start-up Nation” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. It was very fascinating to see how the start-up landscape in Israel has thrived. I highly recommend any aspiring entrepreneur to read the book if you are looking to understand how such a small nation was able to have the highest concentration of start-ups in the world, be the country with more companies listed on the NASDAQ than the entire European continent combined and with the highest ratio of university degrees per capita. It’s truly a fascinating story for anyone who wants to understand the mindset, culture and ambition of such a small nation.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

I’m a big fan of rap and r&b music. I really enjoy some of the old-school artists such as Nas, Tupac, Biggie, Eazy-E and Snoop.

 

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

The first thing I have in the morning is Berocca with water, the hit of vitamin C really gets me focused and keeps me healthy to the point when I don’t consume it I get sick almost instantly. The last thing to finish my day is generally a scoop of GNY Whey Protein with some water to help me recover generally from a workout.

 

What gives you energy?

I get great energy from exchanging ideas with individuals and being able to action them. I do live with the motto that talk is cheap and execution is everything. I have never been a great communicator but I have ensured that I keep things moving along and execute what I have my mind set on. I really admire people who have traits of being able to come up with an idea and then bringing it into reality. Now that gives me a great thrill.

 

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

Optimism and supportive friends. I have a few great close friends who keep me in check and are very supportive during such tough times. Just doing a Zoom call or talking through the issues we face does help lift us up. I think the worst thing to do in such a period is to just go into a standstill and feel bad for oneself. One needs to keep moving forward, come up with ideas and start to self-reflect if this is the right path to take. As a real-life example, my roadshow business has gone into a standstill and I decided why not set up a news publication (www.stockpal.asia). This still keeps me engaged with clients and it’s something that can operate in all type of environments. This is definitely a time where one can experiment or learn something new.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Hong Kong is my favourite restaurant currently. Given I am a big steak lover and it’s the one type of meal I don’t mind spending decent money on, I am just amazed by their porterhouse steak.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt is my favourite museum, as it was the first museum I went to as a child. It has an amazing collection of dinosaur fossils and I believe it’s the largest in Europe! I would beg my parents to take me there on the weekends to be able to admire the breadth of their exhibition.

 

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

Yes. I am rather active on social media, mainly on LinkedIn for my business. Always have been a big believer in connecting with everyone on LinkedIn to not miss any opportunities. On a personal front, Instagram to get motivated by certain athletes and Facebook to keep up to date with friends’ birthdays.

 

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

I’m a sucker for truffle fries. Having tried a few diets in the past, it’s the one thing that gets me.

 

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

I generally wear a T-shirt and some funky coloured pants to work if I am not seeing clients. Some people mention I look like a Lego man with the array of coloured pants I have. Generally, if I see a client I will be in suit and tie, but on relaxed days it’s the Lego man look.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

It’s very important to celebrate wins and reflect on one’s losses. I do like to celebrate the small wins by treating a friend for dinner or having a nice bottle of Chianti.

 

What makes you happy?

The happiest is when I see family, friends and business associates do well and stay healthy. I don’t think happiness should always be measured through business or financial success, so the happiest is when people in your immediate circle are doing well and are healthy.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 19: Vanessa Hemavathi

Vanessa Hemavathi

Vanessa Hemavathi

In a 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 Vanessa Hemavathi in Hong Kong.

 

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

In the mornings, I read Channel News Asia, SCMP and Bloomberg’s “5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day”. For a more global perspective, I read the WSJ and on the weekends, I read the FT Weekend. Channel News Asia shares news on Singapore, where my roots are. Also during the day, I read HFM, to get news updates on the fund industry.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I usually do a hike to The Peak over the weekend to engage myself more with nature and listen to Oprah’s “SuperSoul Sessions” as I am walking. Oprah has good podcasts that can be quite inspiring. Dinner with a good friend and a long run over the weekend helps me unwind and recharge. As the weather is starting to become warmer, am starting to hit the beach. I have always loved the water.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I recently read the “Consolations of Philosophy” by Alain de Botton. He is one of my favourite authors and he has great anecdotes on life. Am currently reading “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t”. It’s a biography of Chuck Feeney, the co-founder of DFS (Duty Free Shoppers) and founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

I enjoy listening to semi-classical music such as Yiruma and Alexis Ffrench, and also listen to a bit of jazz, like Chilly Gonzales. “White Keys” is one of my favourite songs.

 

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

I drink a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon, followed by a cup of coffee to perk me up in the morning. I usually have a cup of hot mint tea at night.

 

What gives you energy?

Having a great conversation with a friend and exchanging ideas keeps me invigorated. Travelling and exploring different cultures also give me renewed energy.

 

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

Regular chats with my family in Singapore keeps me grounded and gives me a good reality check. Also, my work at Help for Children, a foundation which the alternative industry helps support in the prevention and treatment of child abuse, gives me a grounded and purposeful outlook in life.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Madame Fu at Tai Kwun is simply amazing. It’s my go-to place for special occasions.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

My favourite museum is the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, where I managed to see the Ishtar Gate which is truly a fascinating piece of art history. I usually make it a point to visit a museum when I travel to a new country.

 

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

I am not particularly active on social media, but use it to connect with friends and family. LinkedIn, I do use actively to connect with industry peers and to also follow up on industry trends.

 

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

I am an aspiring interior designer and I enjoy collecting beautiful pieces of art from all over the world!

 

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

I believe what you wear to work is a reflection of your personality. My work gear is formal workwear with an artistic edge.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes, I do believe it’s important to celebrate simple wins in life. An occasional treat to a great restaurant with a good glass of wine does the trick.

 

What makes you happy?

Happiness is a state of mind and I try to remind myself of all the blessings I have in my life. The occasional dark chocolate also provides happiness in small doses.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 18: Angus McKinnon

Angus McKinnon

Angus McKinnon

In a 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 Angus McKinnon in Tokyo.

 

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

Online mostly. Some from TV. The Economist Espresso in the morning, The Nikkei, Nikkei Asian Review, BBC, CNN, ABC (Australia), and sometimes I check out others like Pravda (English version), even Fox News to try to get some alternate views on issues. TV mostly NHK or Zero in the evening for Japanese non-business news.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Cook a western-style hot breakfast. Eggs, bacon, fried tomatoes, heaps of toast and coffee. On Friday and Saturday evening, I drink red wine and/or scotch and/or beer. Aside from when I go out, this is about the only time I drink alcohol now. And now this is the only time I drink because we can’t go out!

Can you name a great book you have recently read?
Yes. “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Gave me insight and a new way of thinking about the value of diversity. Highly recommended.

Your soundtrack of choice?

“2001: A Space Odyssey”. Incomparable. Incidentally, my son came up with a brilliant medley of the “Star Wars” opening theme, the Darth Vader entry theme, the wedding march and the funeral march, which I should record if I can get him to do it again, as he improvised the bridge passages.

 

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

Start with strong, black coffee. I’ve limited myself to three cups in the morning, though I sometimes break the limit. Afternoon black or green tea, or water. Evenings water or grape juice, but usually water from the tap. Tokyo tap water is very good quality and I’m basically against bottled water except as an emergency supply in case of an earthquake.

 

What gives you energy?

Music. Running. Working out. Have a gym workout including some cardio is a favourite for releasing the tension, unwinding during the week. Earphones plugged in, zone out from the real world for an hour or so. Hot and cold shower afterwards or sauna. Feels great.

 

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

Work on keeping up healthy routines. Try not to let the news get under my skin and see the other point of view. Keep my eye on the horizon and the long term vision of what I’d like to achieve. Methodically finish small projects, like this interview, despite external demands on my time.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Tokyo? There are so many and they are terrific for different reasons. Maybe Focaccia, a small Italian restaurant run by a Japanese ex-surfer guy who went to Italy and fell in love with the food there.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Smithsonian. Though it is a bit of toss-up with the Natural History Museum in London.

 

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

Not really. Seeing what friends are up to and thinking, passing on ideas. And for entertainment, oddball news that might give me a laugh.

 

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

Guilty in the sense of being a bit naughty or maybe not healthy? I don’t know. Most of my guilty pleasures have been exonerated, like chocolate. Which is nice, in both senses of that ambiguity. It’s not much of a secret, but I do like to keep up on astronomy and astrophysics news. So, guilty perhaps in that I waste valuable work time reading a great website called Science Daily which appears to me to be unbiased as to the country location as they will report about news from Russia, China, India or anywhere, whereas other sites tend to be very US-centric.

 

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

Suit sans tie. Tie on if I have a business meeting of any sort. At the moment, I am working in a one-person office and, due to the social distancing measures in place, there are no business meetings to go to. I could easily wear whatever I like at my little office, but wearing a suit somehow makes me feel I’m at work and can focus. Old habits die hard, I guess.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes. Absolutely. How: a more expensive bottle of red than normal, or a bottle of scotch above my normal budget. Sometimes dinner with friends and/or family. Depends on the win. Oh, another one might be if I succeed at a target project, then I’ll relate the celebration to the target. This will sound weird, but if, for example, I achieve a running goal, I’ll make the next run a notch faster and longer as a celebration and proof to myself that it wasn’t just luck.

 

What makes you happy?

Friends. Talking and laughing with friends and family. I’ve lost some close friends and family over the last few years and realise now there is nothing more valuable than the time you have with them.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 17: David Shirt

David Shirt

David Shirt

In a 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 David Shirt, CEO and founder of Astris Advisory Japan in Tokyo.

 

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

I have always been an avid user of Bloomberg, but increasingly I am going to Twitter to source information. I have paid subscriptions to the FT, the Times and the WSJ.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I have always been into sports and even now, nothing is better than a good, quick run to de-stress. My exercise routine has barely changed in 25 plus years and I still run the same distances now as I did back at college in the mid-90s. I have always been suited to short 5k distances and my speeds seem to have crept up in recent years. And the rest of the weekend? I enjoy being a taxi driver for the kids – two boys 9 and 4 – between their activities. Watching my four-year-old playing football last weekend with the ball glued to his feet gives me great pleasure.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“Leading” by Sir Alex Ferguson in conjunction with Harvard Business School. Most sports biographies are invariably a collection of short stories and anecdotes put together in chronological order, but this is clearly different. For those that don’t know Sir Alex, he is the most successful football manager in British history and in “Leading” there is a genuine effort to impart his own experience in leading Manchester United. I particularly like the quote “Always listen to the kids; they have the best ideas”. No matter how experienced and successful we believe we are, we should always be open to learning new ideas and often those ideas do not come from the most obvious sources. It’s a ringing endorsement for the diversity of thought.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

I am Manchester born and am still hoping there will be that Oasis reunion after all. Otherwise, the Stone Roses, New Order, etc.

 

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

I definitely need caffeine to start the day and I usually finish with water. There may be some lagers, on occasion, before that final water.

 

What gives you energy?

People and particularly people with good ideas. I thrive off interaction. The recent shift to working from home has actually forced us to communicate even more. The weekly team meeting at Astris has now morphed into a daily team call to discuss projects, marketing, clients and, of course, new ideas. I am starting to find this new style of working much more efficient and productive.

 

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

As mentioned, communicate more with your team and increase your visibility with clients. In times like these, it is so very important to remember that we all have similar issues and not to get slack and hide. Teams need leaders to carry them through challenging times.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Our local restaurant in Shirokanedai, Trattoria Nakata – a small family-run Italian restaurant in our neighbourhood. I have been going there for ten years and love the hand-picked local produce.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The British Museum in London. We lived literally on its doorstep through 2012-2013.

 

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

I had barely used LinkedIn until September of last year. My first real post was a picture of myself and Astris’s Chief Compliance Officer, Kei Someha, waving a copy of our Type II Securities License outside the Kanto Local Financial Bureau. That post got 50,000 views and countless new contacts. I find LinkedIn not just a valuable PR tool, but also an incredible source of new ideas, particularly in these challenging times.

 

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

I am a huge Sheffield United fan and have followed them for 40 years. Right now, I am loving our league position – 7th in the Premier League – the highest in my lifetime. I always believe you need long-term goals, not short-term New Year resolutions – I fail every-time. At 22, as I was finishing college, I had four goals. The first three I had achieved by 32 – be a stockbroker, work for Goldman Sachs and run a team. If anyone has any tips on how to buy Sheffield United, I may just achieve the fourth.

 

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

Unfortunately, old habits die hard in my case. Astris was founded in 2018 and despite being a new business with flexible working policies, Shirt still prefers the suit, but strangely enough no longer the tie.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

We should all celebrate our wins and once this crisis is over, I look forward to being able to go back to some old-style team get-togethers. I distribute our “Wins of the Day” to our Astris team Line group, to make sure everyone is aware. I went through the GFC with JP Morgan and forever remember how the internal communication about wins, was relentless. Other banks I have worked for, try to highlight how good their culture is, what they stand for, etc. I will always prefer the winning messaging.

 

What makes you happy?

Watching Sheffield United get to the verge of the European spots in the Premier League this year.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 16: Richard Boutland

Richard Boutland

In a 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 Richard Boutland in Hong Kong.

 

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

Usually the internet. Sky News on Youtube. For investment-related material, I like ZeroHedge very much.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I hike a lot in Hong Kong, especially on Lantau. It was a great surprise to me when I first came here just how much open space there is. It’s a great way to unwind and get time to think.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Not recent, but a couple of years ago I read “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, followed by “Smiley’s People”, both by John le Carré, a superb observer of human nature. It isn’t until the end that you realise just how similar George Smiley and Karla really are – like identical twins separated at birth.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

The soundtrack from “Trainspotting”, especially “Disorder” by Joy Division. If you listen to the lyrics you can picture the mental anguish of Ian Curtis, lead singer of one of the first post-punk bands and a man who suffered from epilepsy – attacks of which could be triggered by loud noise and bright lights, truly a curse for him. In the end, he committed suicide because of it aged 23. Just listen to the track and wonder what that musical genius could have produced had he lived longer.

 

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

Tea and whiskey, in that order.

 

What gives you energy?

At work, I will often slip out for a can of Red Bull in the afternoon.

 

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

I’ve got eight-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Providing for my family keeps me very focused.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

It’s a guilty secret, but I like getting a burger combo and vanilla milkshake at Triple O’s. Otherwise, I like Indian/Malay restaurants in Wing-Wah Lane, off Lan Kwai Fong. I’m definitely a cheap date!

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Science Museum, South Kensington, London. I studied science at university, so I have an interest there. By the way, to all Americans, the museum holds the first aeroplane to fly across the Atlantic. And it wasn’t flown by Charles Lindbergh.

 

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

I like LinkedIn a great deal. I use it extensively, mainly for networking, but also for news.

 

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

Apart from Triple O’s, I have a wicked sense of humour that has, unfortunately, got me into some trouble at times…

 

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

Khaki trousers, blue or white plain business shirt, brown brogues.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Usually, I just go for a hike – to think.

 

What makes you happy?

The satisfaction of doing a good job. That and my family.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 15: Martin O’Regan

Martin O’Regan

Martin O’Regan

In a 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 Martin O’Regan, co-founder of Solas Fiduciary Services in Singapore.

 

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

Mostly online these days. I have a few paid subscriptions at FT and WSJ that I read throughout the day. I also watch the BBC and Bloomberg on the TV in the mornings and later in the evening.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Weekends are family time so pre-virus it was swimming, cycling, walks and general outdoor activity. That has been curtailed obviously, so we are trying to keep ourselves occupied with old-school games, pre-internet style.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Not much of a fiction guy, prefer factual or autobiographies. During the lockdown, I have gone back to books I read 30 plus years ago and it has been great. “The Moon’s a Balloon” by David Niven and a bunch of Graham Greene books. “Our Man in Havana” is a classic.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Guitar music from the 80s – The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, etc. Also, late 80s music like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, etc. Anything with guitars.

 

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

English breakfast tea with cold milk to start and finish the day. Old school, I guess. I don’t drink alcohol at home. Never have, don’t think I ever will.

 

What gives you energy?

I like people! I like the energy, socially and professionally, that engaging with people gives me. I try to surround myself with positive and interesting people. I try to learn something new each day and, collectively, these things give me energy.

 

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

I always try to be a resource for people on a professional and personal level. If I can help – I will. When things start to go wrong or get difficult, that’s where you add value as a person.  Helping others in tough times is another thing that gives me energy, I guess. I also do a lot of charity and not for profit work. As we exit these crazy times, I would encourage everyone to give some time back. It doesn’t have to be financial. It’s extremely rewarding and it will keep you grounded.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Violet Oon has some great spots here in Singapore like National Kitchen. I am more into flavour and less complicated food.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Natural History Museum in London is still one of my favourites.

 

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

On a professional level, it would be LinkedIn, that’s my main one. I don’t use Twitter, Instagram. etc for work. It’s too distracting and not enough content. I have practically given up on Facebook socially and use WhatsApp or Viber groups to keep in touch with friends and family. In our current lockdown situation, I’m using a lot more Zoom and Google Hangouts. It’s nice to see someone face to face, both for work and socially.

 

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

Gadgets. I could probably open an electronic store from my house after the lockdown.

 

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

Business casual. Nothing too stuffy.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

For work, typically with my team, I love the sense of accomplishment that we did something great together and we top it off with a nice lunch usually. If it’s personal, then beers with friends and family.

 

What makes you happy?

To try to do the right thing. I try that in all aspects of my life. It makes me happy and, in turn, it hopefully makes others happy.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 14: Rainer Michael Preiss

Rainer Michael Preiss

In a 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 Rainer Michael Preiss, Chief Investment Officer – Equity at The Global CIO Office in Singapore.

 

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

Bloomberg, Financial Times, Handelsblatt, Neue Zuercher Zeitung and the weekly ritual of reading The Economist cover to cover.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Brunch together with my wife followed by a game of tennis and getting together with friends in the evening.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“Radical Uncertainty” by John Kay and Mervyn King.

 

What is your soundtrack of choice?

“The Last Emperor”, a 1987 epic biographical drama film, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. It is both my favourite film and soundtrack.

 

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

Freshly squeezed orange juice and a strong espresso in the morning and in the evening a glass of Argentine Malbec red wine.

 

What gives you energy?

Daily gym workout for physical energy and reading quality literature for mental energy. The Russian classics foremost.

 

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

Meditation and interacting with different people from around the world and friends in emerging markets and from different walks of life is one thing to keep us grounded as human beings I believe. Groupthink and entitlement thinking is to be avoided in my view.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

The Butcher Shop at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Best wines and steaks in the world in my opinion.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities and is my favourite museum in the world. Ancient Egypt gives you some perspective on fast-paced Wall Street and the inventing of the future of Silicon Valley.

 

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

Twitter daily and hourly for gauging the market and investors’ continuity of thought and trends, LinkedIn for general updates and Facebook to be avoided at best after the Cambridge Analytics scandals in my view.

 

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

Eating too much carbs like Italian pasta and freshly baked bread and too much red wine.

 

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

Suit and tie.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

A special dinner together with my wife and, when we could still freely travel prior to Covid-19, a special getaway weekend trip, ideally on the beach or in our house in Thailand.

 

What makes you happy?

Meaningful conversations and deep discussions over a bottle of red wine.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 13: Natallia Hunik

Natallia Hunik

Natallia Hunik

In a 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 Natallia Hunik, Chief Revenue Officer of Advanced Markets Group.

 

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

I get my daily news from multiple sources. Firstly, as a true millennial, I ask Google for the news in the morning once I wake up and make my breakfast. Then, my favourite news sources throughout the day are Twitter and daily briefs from Finimize. I also love watching interviews on Real Vision, it’s Raoul Pal’s version of Netflix for finance.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

In these quarantine times, the one thing that is not off-limits is hiking, so I do quite a bit of that over the weekend as we have many hiking trails around our town. I live in Lexington, Massachusetts – a historical town where the revolutionary war started so we have lots of history buried within our woods. I enjoy learning more of this history while we are exploring the trails around town. In the time of peace, I love going to see a show, a play or some other performance and indulge myself with the beauty of art.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman as I am recently into learning more about behavioural finance. This book is a result of many years of studies of human psychology and helps to understand the way we, humans, think and analyse our biases. The book really puts you out of your comfort zone by exposing the irrationality of human behaviour and all the biases we fall into. This is very relevant in finance and trading as it teaches you valuable lessons about human fallacies and makes you look and analyse potential investments from a risk assessment standpoint.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

“This Week in Startups” podcast. I love “Jaycal” (Jason Calacanis) and his amazing guests! I do enjoy some classical music as well, but it has to be a conducive relaxing environment.

 

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

Water to start off the day, sometimes with lemon. Green tea to finish the day off.

 

What gives you energy?

Success. I am the one that is being driven by positive reinforcement. Every time I succeed in anything, I want to do more of it.

 

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

I am trying to keep my routine and not lose social connections with people. We are so lucky to be isolated in this day and age when you have the entire world at your fingertips. In fact, I find myself reconnecting with many more people than ever as everyone got some time on their hands now.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Yes, we have an amazing Chinese place in the Boston area called Mulan. It isn’t a fancy place at all, but it serves pretty close to authentic Taiwanese food and it makes my neurons sing mostly because of the warm feelings associated with it. This is a happy place for our office, we have lunch there once a week and occasionally I go on the weekends. Food is great and memories are even better.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Chagall Museum in Nice, France. Marc Chagall was born in my native Belarus and I studied much of his work during my years at school. I was finally able to really embrace his genius in Nice where they have the biggest collection of Chagall’s paintings in the world.

 

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

Yes, I’m very active on Twitter. I think this is one of the most important social media channels of our time. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter serves a much greater purpose of getting people to express their opinions and viewpoints on really important issues. I also use LinkedIn, but not as much anymore.

 

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

Trash Friday. Been observing this holiday for many years. While I try to keep a healthy balanced diet throughout the week, I will not let go of Trash Friday that allows me to have the very best of American fast food on Friday night: Five Guys Burger, pizza, American Chinese, etc.

 

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

Sneakers. I like to dress comfortably for work and the recent fashion sneakers trend really played to my advantage. Now, this is different Natallia from five years ago. That old Natallia has worn high heels every day.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes, as I mentioned I am massively big on positive reinforcement. I do celebrate, but try to not rest on my laurels for too long.

 

What makes you happy?

My kids. Just spending time with them and learning the type of people they are becoming is truly fascinating and joyful. I feel like time passes by way too fast, so I try to enjoy every moment.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 12: Anna Stephenson

Anna Stephenson

In a 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 Anna Stephenson, co-founder of the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program.

 

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

I’m old school and still like newspapers although I read them online these days – so my daily sources include the FT, the New York Times, the Guardian and the WSJ. Their different slants on the same news items help me to discern factual truth from journalistic opinion. I’m also wedded to BBC Radio – in Asia I listen to the World Service and in London, I listen to Radio 4. Still world-leading quality journalism and entertainment despite the challenges of the 21st-century media environment.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I always start Saturdays with the Guardian Prize Cryptic Crossword – it’s like taking your brain to the gym and so satisfying when you can actually complete it. I try and drag myself out for one longer-than-a-weekday run. And I make the most of whatever city I’m living in at the time – in normal times that means concerts, plays and restaurants. Right now, my husband and I are doing a decent job of replicating all those things online. Our first e-dinner party was a blast – we cooked the same meal and drank the same wine as our friends and ate together via Zoom. And there’s only half the washing up to do at the end!

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Years ago, I made a commitment that if there was a film of a book that I wanted to see, I would read the book first, so that I could form my own opinions. So, I’ve just read “David Copperfield”, at last – pure escapism in these tough times. Looking forward to watching the movie.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

I was supposed to be a musician and I love pretty much all music, so it depends on what activity it’s the soundtrack to. A nice bit of Latin American music for cooking to, cocktail lounge jazz for cocktails, of course, classical on a Sunday morning and, when I’m working, the sound of British birdsong – it’s a great background track which is soothing but just noisy enough.

 

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

Water on waking and coffee as soon as I can get my hands on it! For the evening, it quite often finishes with a small whisky – a habit I picked up living in Japan.

 

What gives you energy?

Brainstorming with other people – I get a buzz from connecting ideas and bringing different lines of thought together. I get ridiculously energised and enthusiastic. Following through is a different matter!

 

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

I think it’s important to remember that the internet is an outrage-generating machine, specifically designed by professionals to get you to react emotionally. So, I try to have the discipline to not believe the headlines I see and to assume the real story behind them is much tamer than it seems at first. And I think you have to remember that history is cyclical and whatever is happening now has probably happened before. Also that your bubble is not the whole world – I spend a lot of time telling my somewhat-depressed straight, white, male father that in many places the world is much better for non-straight, non-white, non-male people than it has ever been historically – that real progress is being made. It helps to focus on how lucky you are and stay thankful.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

I’ve lived in many places and have so many favourite restaurants that it’s hard to choose just one. In these troubling times for the restaurant industry, I’m thinking about many old favourites. But I have to say there’s a special place in my heart for a pub round the corner called The Jugged Hare, which is the only place I know that serves…jugged hare, which takes me right back to my grandma’s dining table when I was a child. Just keeping my fingers crossed that they will make it through the lockdown and we can go back again.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Another impossible question, but succumbing to recency bias, I had a great time at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford a few weeks ago. It’s not too big and not too small and has some super stuff and a great restaurant on the roof. For the people who use “museum” as a synonym for “art gallery” – then a trip to Naoshima Art Island in Japan is difficult but totally worth it. The whole island has been given over to art. Stay in the Benesse House art gallery overnight if you can, that’s a real treat.

 

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

I’m barely on Facebook and just use it to stalk my friends! I don’t look at Twitter much, as I don’t know how to control the overwhelming flow of information. I think I could easily lose half my day following different stories. Instagram, TikTok, etc. – forget about it! But I use Linked In a lot, to find people and connect on a business basis and also to post items of interest and to find out what the industry is focusing on. That said, social media has clearly been a game-changer and digital natives will be much more connected to other people over their lifetimes than my generation has been.

 

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

Well…I can’t get enough of old reruns of “Law & Order”! Takes me back to when I first moved to NYC. It’s perfect for when you need something brainless and reassuring…like now, maybe.

 

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

That’s such a hard question for a woman. When I started working it was around the time of the movie “Working Girl” so I was wearing power suits with huge shoulders and weird tie-like bows at my neck. And giant silk scarves! I am proud to say I was the first woman to wear a trouser suit on the trading floor at JP Morgan in London. My boss did not approve. Things have come a long way since then, but there are still cities and industries where you’ll find short dresses and stiletto heels feeling mandatory. I try to stay professional but a little unusual, if I can manage it. And don’t get me started on make-up.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Does anyone not celebrate their wins? Food and wine and thanks all round, always.

 

What makes you happy?

Actually, my husband would tell you that almost everything makes me happy. I have an annoying habit of always finding the good things around me, can’t help myself – it drives him crazy.