Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 25: Michael Bugel

Michael Bugel

Michael Bugel

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 Michael Bugel, AIMA’s Co-Head of APAC, in Hong Kong.

 

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

Nothing too special really, but I like waking up to RTHK 3 HK to get my local news out of the way, which is then followed by the BBC World Service. The usual subscriptions such as FT, Bloomberg and CNN get filtered to me throughout the day. I must admit, I do look through my Facebook feeds, Instagram and Daily Mail from England for a few laughs! In the evenings before I go to bed, sometimes I would tune into an American podcast such as Vox and The Explained for fun.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Weekends are quite sacred downtime, so no lie-ins for me. Pre-covid, I usually start the weekends with an early yoga or gym session followed by a nice sauna and meditation. After that, it is usually followed by a walk with my girlfriend and her dog Odie. He is a dachshund and has little legs, so our walks are mostly limited on the Island side. Occasionally, we take him for a stroll along the sea which is always quite special. One of my favourite activities on Sundays is to visit the flower market in Jordan to replenish my home with all sorts of pastels. They are a real mood lifter and brightens up the home and the soul. Afternoons are spent chasing down errands usually before meeting friends for drinks and dinner. If not, I can be found anywhere under the sun reading my Weekend FT. The weekend would not be complete without speaking to my children who are in England which is a wonderful way to wrap the week.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Books I leave to holidays, where I tend to eat them up at a fast pace. Day-to-day usually magazines and blogs and podcasts. Best book that I can highlight is an oldie called “The Moon’s a Balloon” by David Niven.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Music is a must all day and every day where it is permitted. I have a very varied taste depending on my mood, but a soundtrack which always makes me smile is Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits”, a track called “Dreams”. Stevie Nicks’ voice Is hard to beat.

 

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

Water! Water! Water!

 

What gives you energy?

The sun, infectious smiles and, most importantly, positive people. Energy works in reciprocity, the more you give, the more it comes back!

 

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

A lot of that is through training the mind. One has to be up to the minute on news and facts and stay relevant and helpful to our members and the team. So I think listening, learning and helping where one can, keeps one very much in touch, humble and grounded.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

I am not a very developed foodie. I tend to go to restaurants which have vigour, colour and energy but good food clearly helps. They also tend to come and go here in Hong Kong in a very fast way with rents being what they are. A recent find in Po Hing Fung called Giabar has caught my eye.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

There are so many wonderful museums to blow one away on entering. It’s so hard to nail one down specifically, but seeing the museum of the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses was breathtaking and for sure a special visit.

 

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

Not especially, on most of the apps whatever they maybe. But I’m more of a reader and looker than a big posturer, to be honest.

 

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

Nothing crazy or wild, but I do have a passion and keen interest in trees. They are so varied in so many ways and have been around for so long, that I have grown to love, respect and enjoy them.

 

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

My battle dress is a mental one, which is well-honed, prepared and ready for the day’s adventures. I think looking smart and well-presented is key and gets one through the day. Nothing beats a well- starched shirt, no matter what you pair it with.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

I think there are so many goals and challenges in life, that one must take a second and celebrate in whatever fashion one’s wins. Grab the team or friends and have a quick celebration. Life is hard enough, so go for it. A win is a win and we will take it.

 

What makes you happy?

The sun, sea and surf have forever and always put a big smile on my face. Accompanied by my loved ones is the icing on the cake.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 24: Rahul Dubey

Rahul Dubey

Rahul Dubey

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 Rahul Dubey of Aura Group in Singapore.

 

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

Mostly via email updates like 24/7 Wall St, Abnormal Returns, ZeroHedge, Calculated Risk, Albourne Village, etc. They summarise it well and are easy to read.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I spend time with family. Plus always looking for good movies to watch.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike” by Phil McKnight. Very inspirational. Credit to Omar Taheri for recommending another good read!

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” from 1959.

 

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

I start the day with black tea and end with a glass of nice Scotch.

 

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve made?

Did a USD/EUR trade in late 2009 that lost nearly half my personal portfolio.

 

Have you ever had a great mentor and what did you learn?

Hard to name one. My bosses, past and present, have helped tremendously over the years. The best mentors point out your weaknesses and guide you to develop them into strengths.

 

What gives you energy?

My friends and family have always been by my side. Motivates me daily to do my best for them.

 

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

I always tell myself things are transient. One day you’re feeling down then back up. So never be complacent. I won’t always have things going my way. Do the best you can with what’s available. Make it a point, especially now, to help others, even those I’ve had differences with, for the greater good.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Alati on Amoy Street in Singapore which serves Greek cuisine. Their xtapodi grilled octopus is one of the best things I’ve had.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The museum in Kolkata. The exhibits on the Indian Independence Movement and ancient culture are very touching and impressive.

 

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

Primarily LinkedIn to connect with professionals, share updates, etc. Haven’t used Facebook in a long time.

 

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

I need to have my weekly dose of briyani at the nearest Indian restaurant.

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

My usual white shirt and navy-blue pants. Cufflinks depend on the client and mood.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

I usually have a nice meal with friends, whoever’s available. Pray as well to show my appreciation.

 

What makes you happy?

The most wonderful thing in my life – my girlfriend, wife sometime soon.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 23: Anric Blatt

Anric Blatt

Anric Blatt

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 Anric Blatt in Aspen, Colorado, USA.

 

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

This is probably one of my pet peeves right now. I can see in almost a matrix-like source code how the media is manipulating, twisting and fabricating “facts” to get access and control to your eyeballs, mine too, and that true journalism is almost dead. I have a curated feed of Twitter sources, ten that I agree with and ten that I don’t agree with but respect nevertheless and just wrote a little script that delivers that to me in one email every morning. But I only open it after I have done my “thinking time” and creative time and have had at least two coffees. Trust me, don’t deliver bad news to Anric without coffee flowing through his veins – people get hurt. Other than that, ZeroHedge, Epoch Times and One America News.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

DIY projects, build stuff, rebuild stuff, fix things. Basically, the same things I do in my work, just not with asset managers, but timber, machinery and electronics.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Absolutely. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson. Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. That results in you and me not having enough time, energy and appetite left for the few things in life that you should give a fuck about that will actually move the needle. It’s brilliant – but my all-time favourite is still “The Greatest Salesman in the World” is a phenomenal book, written by Og Mandino. I have read it over 100 times.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Laugh all you like, but I got stuck in the 1980s after which very little new good music came out. The other day, faithfully assisted by a few bottles of Malbec, or was it Barolo, I made my dream list – 80 of the best songs from the 80s and as with my asset manager selection, for a new one to get on the list, another has to be retired, which makes it very tough and the list keeps getting better.

 

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

The quality of my life is directly proportional to the amount of value I can add to asset managers between coffee at six and red wine at nine. Easy.

 

What gives you energy?

When I figured this out, everything changed. You see life, dreams, goals, everything is not linear, it’s circular. Let me explain: when you finally achieve your goals, or get that Gulfstream or get that job, etc. – it all seems rather empty when you get there because we are focused on completion, not realising that by the time you achieve your goal, you don’t really want it anymore because you’ve already moved on. And when I realised that the magic word is “progress”, progress makes you happy, fulfilled, gives you true self confidence and gives you energy to wake up and go back to work, back to the fight. When you focus on progress instead of anything else, your mind hacks your energy and the fact that you are getting progress fires you up in eight different categories.

 

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

Easy – just focus on adding value by helping people. It’s addictive and makes you realise that there is so much out there that needs fixing. If you think about it – what do entrepreneurs do? They fix things that are broken, so I just focus on that. Especially when looking in the mirror, there is so much work to do on myself, but the best way I know is to help others.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

If you’ve seen my belt size, there’s obviously more than one – and it’s not a fair question. In Asia, it’s The Chinnery at the Mandarin in Hong Kong. In Europe, it’s a little mom and pop shop called St. Antonio on the shore of our lake Lago d’Orta. They even built a boat dock for me, I love those guys. In America, it’s downstairs, my wife is a better chef than anyone, even Bobby Flay. In Africa, it’s The Carnivore in Nairobi. Need I continue?

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Shoot me if you like, but it’s a tie between the “Night Watch”, a 1642 painting by Rembrandt which is displayed in the Rijksmuseum and The Schlumpf collection, a.k.a. La cité de l’automobile, in Mulhouse, France.

 

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

Oh, yes. It’s a love-hate, but I just hacked it and created a Weekly Content Value Multiplier. Check it out, I recorded it on Youtube for you: https://youtu.be/_vsOm-B3RV4

 

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

That list is so long, but my top three are: 1) Watching shuffle dance videos on TikTok, 2) Learning how to fix absolutely anything with the help of some guy on YouTube, and 3) Taking excessive pictures of my Golden Retrievers.

 

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

I refuse to wear suits anymore – I have 200 Hermès ties that will never see daylight again. Now it’s jeans, cowboy boots and shirts by Ascot Chang, my old tailor in Hong Kong who I miss very much.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Absolutely, you’re talking to the guy that finds something to learn from and celebrate when stepping in dog poop. It’s all about finding the joy, finding the positive and learning from bad stuff.

 

What makes you happy?

Mea culpa coming: Leos are the most generous creatures on earth, all we need is a little recognition, a little respect and one person that adores you. That’s enough to make us happy and keep on giving 99% of the time. So when someone acknowledges and appreciates what I have done or delivered, it makes me happier than a new Mercedes (which also makes me happy).

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 22: Gerben Oldekamp

Gerben Oldekamp

Gerben Oldekamp

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 Gerben Oldekamp at Circle Partners in Singapore.

 

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

Through my phone and laptop. Typically Bloomberg and BBC World News. Currently, due to the whole situation, also the local newspapers in the countries we are active: Hong Kong, Singapore and The Philippines.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I have got four sons and they typically take up most of my time. If we’re in Europe we visit the Stadion Feijenoord to watch the best football team in the world, Feyenoord Rotterdam. In Asia, we watch them on TV. Further, since I’m away most days of the week, basically anything the kids enjoy most in the daytime. Going to a restaurant with my wife at night and then drinks in my local later on make the day complete.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I read a lot of books, on planes, in taxis, etc. All non-fiction and in old-school format. I could not mention only one that stood out.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Very diverse. From house music – inevitable growing up in the nineties in The Netherlands – to rap and pop music.

 

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

A cup of English breakfast tea, no milk, to start and a glass of fresh milk to finish it.

 

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve made?

The houses I bought in my life have generally both been bought and sold at the wrong time.

 

Have you ever had a great mentor and what did you learn?

With the risk of being labelled a suck-up, the three founding partners of Circle Partners, to a large and lesser extent, have all taught me a lot of valuable business lessons and have given me the opportunity to develop.

 

What gives you energy?

Success and good reports from clients give me a lot of energy, but also communication and interaction with people in general. It’s what I miss most in these days.

 

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

I mainly live out of a suitcase and lead a diverse life. I have found it quite difficult to adapt to reality – and tried to delay matters until “normal life” would resume – but I’m starting to face the fact it will take some considerable time for things to be as they were. The stories of family and friends that were badly hit by the crisis bring valuable reality checks.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Formerly Hong Kong-based chef Harlan Goldstein last year opened a restaurant in Thailand – Comfort by Harlan – and I have been a very regular visitor. I’m a big fan of his simple but fantastic cooking.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

I’m not a regular museum visitor, but the Imperial War Museum in London made a big impression.

 

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

LinkedIn mainly, I’m not on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

 

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

I collect match-worn football shirts, match programmes, banners etc. Pretty sad for a man in his forties, which my kids do not fail to constantly point out.

 

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

A suit always, I have managed to lose the tie when moving to Asia.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Certainly, to me, that’s very important. We have quite a young team and together with our friends and contacts in the industry, we very much enjoy having a drink or two. It keeps me young too, mentally, at least!

 

What makes you happy?

A cliché, but definitely the family. Seeing your kids happy, gives the best feeling of all.

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.