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 35: Corina Quah

Corina Quah

Corina Quah

For the latest part in our Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews, HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checks in with Corina Quah of Solas Fiduciary Services in Singapore.

 

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

I get my news generally from a few common sources. My day starts with Channel News Asia for some local news highlights as well as international and business news. Throughout the day, I get feeds from CNBC, CNN, SCMP and various posts on my social media accounts to keep me updated.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Starting slowly in the mornings of the weekend, lounging at my balcony over coffee and breakfast. This is my weekly “look forward to” activity. Thereafter, it is a mad race just following through the teenagers’ schedules!

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I do not read as much as I used to – which is unfortunate! When I do read, my preference is to pick up the latest book from my favourite author Danielle Steel. Of late, to enhance my bond with my teenage daughter, I started reading books which she recommended. Once she proposed to me to read up on this series on teenage crushes by author Jenny Han and I ended up finishing all three books in the series that weekend! It did bring back my memories as a teenager – wasn’t that bad after all that I can feel young again!

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Modern jazz is currently on my recently played list on Spotify. The music I listen to depends a lot on my mood and who I am with.

 

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

Lemon water to wake me up in the mornings, followed by coffee to perk me up for the day.  Water before bedtime.

 

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

Not investing my money and making it work for me!

 

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

In my life that I have met many mentors and many people of various characters – more good ones than bad in my life and career path. The good ones – I remember their kindness, humility and honesty and try to emulate their leadership to be a better person. As for the not so good ones, they serve as reminders to me not to be like them when I am a leader. The most important things I learned are: From my parents – Simple things in life can make us happy people. From a work mentor – Always have a generous heart and be kind to others. Kindness begets more than kindness; it earns respect too!

 

What gives you energy?

Taking in lots of fresh air, going for walks, spending time with the family and being able to give back to the society gives me energy to keep going.

 

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

To remember to count my blessings! This keeps me grounded and pushes me to get going with the challenges that come my way.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Basically, I “eat-to-live” since I am not fussy with food whilst many of my good friends ”live-to-eat”! Hence, through them, I have been introduced to many great cuisines and restaurants, but one restaurant that I will always return to when I am there would be something close to my heart and connected to my roots! I love Peranakan food and there is a Peranakan restaurant that I visit whenever I stop by Malacca for my short trips. Manis J serves very authentic and home-cooked Peranakan dishes which brings back lots of memories from childhood.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Museums are just not my cup of tea.

 

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

I do not have a lot of social media accounts and not particularly active. LinkedIn is used mostly for my business needs to keep up with industry friends and news. Instagram is used to bond with the teenagers! I use WhatsApp more often as a form of keeping in touch with friends and family.

 

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

I love to buy and keep a stash of chocolates at home and in the office even though I do not eat all of them!

 

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

A simple black dress with my pearls – it just gives me the confidence to walk through my day.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes! It’s a must to celebrate wins! It is usually celebrated with the team over a good meal. Team effort is an important factor in most wins.

 

What makes you happy?

To be able to know I have been of help to others and to make a difference in their lives makes me happy.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 34: Daniel Jim

Daniel Jim

Daniel Jim

How could we possibly continue our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews series without HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Daniel Jim in Hong Kong?

 

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

Emails and news online.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Run and cook.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

The Holy Bible.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Playlist “DJazzz” on Spotify.

 

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

Coffee. Water.

 

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

Hanging onto a fund too long after it outgrew itself.

 

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

Plenty. Humility, honesty and bravery.

 

What gives you energy?

Sunshine and a good meal.

 

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

Exercise.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Any Tabelog 4.0 plus B-class cuisine one in Japan. Kept a blog called “Lonely Gourmet’s Thought For Food” on WordPress if anyone is interested.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Shanghai.

 

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

Posting anything to do with food and drinks.

 

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

Japanese imo shochu.

 

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

My high-school tie.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Having a good meal over a few hours.

 

What makes you happy?

Seeing people I love happy.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 33: Sandy Siu of OP Investment Management

Sandy Siu

Sandy Siu

 

Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Sandy Siu of OP Investment Management in Hong Kong.

 

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

I get my updates mostly from Now News and BBC for the subjects I subscribed. I also follow some Facebook pages that retweet and summarise topics and discussions from major news sources like The Guardian, Time, Financial Times, Sky News.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Learning something new, art-making, movies, sports and yum cha with my family. My recent hobby is macro photography. I go out to nature – not really the wild but gardens and country parks – to look for my models: bees, butterflies, any sorts of insects. It is very meditative as nature is colourful and no matter how small a leaf or flower is, there can exist a whole ecosystem. This genre trains my eye to hunt for the details, also my ability to stay so focused when attempting my shots with the right composition, shutter speed and aperture, I can become “deaf” temporarily, detaching myself from city noise and pressure.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet” by Benjamin Hoff. It’s an interesting read! The author illustrates concepts of Taoism with excerpts from Winne the Pooh and through traits of the characters. Although I don’t agree with some of his explanations on Taoism, I take it as an exercise for my brain. It brings back memories of being back in school and uni when I used to learn Chinese philosophy through literature and paintings.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Depends on the occasions. Office – all kinds… pop, rock, folk. Art-making – 60s, 70s, 80s classics. Learning Mandarin – Jay Zhou. Learning French – Coeur de Pirate, Carla Bruni, Joyce Jonathan. Home alone – instrumental guitar, harpsichord or accordion music. Insomnia – the sound of rain and thunder.

 

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

Water.

 

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

If it’s something I feel like sharing, it’s not the worst mistake.

 

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

Not a mentor though. My first boss remains the most influential person in my career so far. Perhaps he wasn’t aware either, how much effort and perseverance he put in his business motivated me to stretch myself and go for the extra mile when the situation allows. Through him, I had the privilege to meet a Catholic priest, Father Patrick Desbois who does research on massacre history and relates that to terrorism in the modern context. He’s been doing this study for close to 20 years. It’s such a subject that I feel afraid just to think of, let alone you can dream of your work when you sleep! I’m amazed by his courage and devotion to this study. When I feel demotivated at work or life, I would think of Father Desbois and his works. If you want to know more about his works, look for Yahad-In Unum.

 

What gives you energy?

Yummy food. Sun. Moments with family and friends.

 

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

Listen to my heart and also to others, keep a journal, channel bad emotions with arts.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Veggie SF in Stanley Street, Hong Kong. Their food is always good. Friendly staff. With loads of memes stickers everywhere, vintage collection of toys, jewellery all over the place. Am I getting a discount for this shout out?

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Musee d’Orsay. Not as big as Louvre where you need ten days or more and can get lost. It carries many chef d’oeuvres. My favourite is Renoir’s “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette”. Check out the view of Sacré Cœur through the museum’s clock.

 

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

Certainly. I get my news, marketing ideas and updates from friends, work partners.

 

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

I like pranking by gazing at a random spot to make people curious and turn their head to check.

 

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

Business smart causal. Flip flops at my workstation.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

By telling my closest bunch. Writing about it in my journal.

 

What makes you happy?

Spreading happiness. This may sound so selfless, I’m not a saint either. But this is a feeling that lasts much longer than laughing about some jokes, having comfort food. It could pull you through in your down-times too.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 32: Rod Kafer

Rod-Kafer-Invast-Global (002)Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with rugby world champion turned prime broker Rod Kafer in Sydney.

 

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

Initially from Twitter and then various newspaper publications.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Weekends have always been about sport. Originally rugby for myself, then sport for our three kids, and then rugby commentary for myself and now, when I can, a game of golf.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Anything by the Foo Fighters or 90s hip hop.

 

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

Long black coffee with cream. Cup of tea. Occasionally a G&T.

 

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

Chasing short term gains….

 

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

I have had a number of influences over the years in a variety of different fields – in rugby, it was Eddie Jones; in business, it has been David Shein – founder of ComTech and former large shareholder of Dimension Data. Both had the capacity to distill complex issues into simple solutions.

 

What gives you energy?

I have always had plenty of energy, but new ideas and starting new projects excite me.

 

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

The benefits of a family with teenage kids provides no opportunity to get ahead of myself.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

I am not a massive food guy and don’t have any favourite restaurants. I like to eat – my rotund shape is testament to that. However, I am happy with a large steak on the bone from any decent steak joint.

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

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

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

I have never taken a single step in a museum. It’s not that I’m a philistine, I read extensively, just don’t view.

 

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

Twitter only, mainly for news and golf updates. I don’t tweet, I’m not interesting.

 

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

I like to eat spoonfuls of Nutella late at night…

 

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

Full suit and tie. However, equally happy in tracksuit pants and UGG boots, working from home.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Always, and always as a team. Success is rarely singular so having the opportunity to share with others is a great thrill. Beers and laughter are the best way.

 

What makes you happy?

Increasing knowledge and getting things completed. Golf and family rank highly as well.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 31: Patrick Rial

Patrick RialOur popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Varecs Partners’ Patrick Rial in Tokyo.

 

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

Having worked as a reporter, I try to minimise my news consumption. Once you’ve seen how the sausage is made, you tend to lose your taste for it. I read the New Yorker and listen to a lot of podcasts, mainly regarding investing or interviews with company CEOs.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I have a young daughter, so she gets most of my attention on the weekend.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

“DisneyWar” by James Stewart. I grew up knowing the names of the people in the book – Michael Eisner, Michael Ovitz, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, Bob Iger. But you find the information the public receives is completely opposite to the reality of the situation. It seems a miracle Disney survived the 90s under Eisner, but it also shows that nearly every company is a hot mess on the inside and a truly well-functioning company is the exception, not the rule. I highly recommend reading it before you read Iger’s “Ride of a Lifetime.” As you might expect, Iger’s own book presents his career in a much more flattering light than Stewart’s.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

My music tastes are fairly catholic – punk, hard rock, 70s folk. These days, maybe as a result of listening to a lot of Weird Al Yankovic when I was growing up, I tend to listen to music with a comedic element – Cheekface, They Might Be Giants, Jeffrey Lewis.

 

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

Decaf coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day.

 

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

Sometimes I feel like all I’ve done is make mistakes. Broadly speaking, I spent far too long being a Graham-style investor focused on statistical cheapness. That approach worked very poorly for me in Japan, where statistical cheapness very often comes hand-in-hand with a business in secular decline and hyper-conservative management that ignores shareholders. I was 35 before I started to study Warren Buffett seriously and understand the importance of quality and growth to successful investing.

 

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

I feel very lucky to have had a number of great mentors. Stefan Pendert took a chance on a very unpolished young man and helped mould me into a professional. Jesper Koll taught me how to be an analyst and how to understand the interests of your counterparts. Jiro Yasu continues to teach me every day about temperament as well as the long-term benefits of taking a cooperative approach.

 

What gives you energy?

Every day is another chance to learn something new, to get a little better and beat back the grim reaper.

 

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

Books and interviews with truly remarkable people help remind me of the large chasm between myself and the true superstars of this world. They also set a standard to strive for. It’s a cliché, but my wife is also always prepared to keep me humble.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

I have simple tastes and have no particular favourites. Anytime I can eat and drink with friends, I consider it a wonderful meal.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

The Barnes Collection in Philadelphia is an unparalleled collection of post-Impressionist masterpieces, including works by Matisse, Picasso, Degas and van Gogh. But it is even more remarkable from an investment perspective – Barnes was buying up the works of many artists when they were out of fashion and his patronage helped keep a number of those artists afloat. It was only many decades later that the world realised he had accumulated one of the greatest collections in history. The saga of Barnes and how the Philadelphia establishment eventually turned its greedy eyes to his collection, is told in the excellent documentary “The Art of the Steal”.

 

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

I find Twitter to be a great resource. You can get a glimpse into the thoughts of some very talented investment professionals. But generally, I don’t post myself and tend to stay away from social media.

 

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

I try to clear the lowest possible standard of acceptable workplace attire. When I meet with companies, I want them to see a poorly dressed analyst across the table. I find it to be a valuable indicator if they appraise me on form or substance. My experience has been that the price of someone’s clothing is inversely correlated with their character.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Not really. I am more interested in the journey than the result. That’s the fun part. I play a lot of tennis and can never remember the score even while playing or if I won or lost. It’s so much fun to play, it doesn’t matter in the end. Investing is the same. The goal line is always being reset, whether it’s a new investment or a new year. If you can make the journey the fun part, then every day is new and exciting.

 

What makes you happy?

Getting to relive my childhood through my daughter: watching “Karate Kid” and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies together, water balloon fights, tag, that kind of thing.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 30: Kaia Parv

Kaia Parv

Kaia Parv

 

Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Kaia Parv in Singapore.
 

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

Being a typical millennial I prefer consuming daily news on my iPad. On top of the usual financial media, such as Bloomberg, FT and the Economist, I am a big fan of the Real Vision channel. Also, I like to use aggregators, like the Feedly app, in order to access a number of websites and blogs, such as Zero Hedge, Project Syndicate, Calculated Risk, The Diff, The MacroTourist and Seeking Alpha without too much effort.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

After two months of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, I feel weekends have unfortunately lost their meaning. But back in the day, I would always hit the gym on Saturdays for an extended session, followed by sauna. Sundays are spent purely on reading and catching up with friends across the globe.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I’ve read a few these recent weeks but two names really stand out. The first is “The Escape from Balance Sheet Recession and the QE Trap: A Hazardous Road for the World Economy” by Richard Koo – extremely insightful book that every money manager should read. The second is “Becoming” by Michelle Obama – I would recommend the Audible version. She is such a down-to-earth and kind-hearted lady and I think it really transmits throughout the book.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Depends on the activity and time of day – anything from jazz-soul-disco-hip hop-metal to drum and bass. More upbeat tunes for workouts, binaural beats and chants for relaxing.

 

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

I start and I end my day with water, drinking of lots of coffee between those hours.

 

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

Buying levered oil ETFs back in 2012 for my personal account.

 

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

I’ve been very lucky to have a number of great mentors throughout my professional life. I think they have all taught me to be self-confident but also ensuring that self-confidence is stemming from doing my job well and excelling at every level.

 

What gives you energy?

I’m a big fan of 6:30 am workouts, followed by sauna and a cold shower. I literally feel invincible walking to the office after a morning exercise. I also tend to get a lot of energy from high quality and meaningful conversations, either with family and friends or with colleagues and clients.

 

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

I have built a mini routine for myself that I adhere to every single day. I start my day with a 45-minute yoga session, followed by breathwork exercises and a quick meditation. Then I have a cold shower and black coffee. Before sunset I try to go for a walk and then do another workout session at home with dumbbells I managed to procure before lockdown. This routine forms the core structure of my day and I build the rest of my schedule around it. I try to compartmentalise the chaos happening in the world by focusing on my mini routine and just build the rest of the schedule around it.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Mikla, a restaurant in Istanbul. It offers fabulous Turkish cuisine and breathtaking views of Istanbul.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Patarei prison museum in Tallinn, Estonia. This building was initially a sea fortress overlooking the Bay of Tallinn built by emperor Nikolai I in 1840; however, between 1919 and 2005 it was used a prison. Patarei has a very notorious reputation because the communist regime used it as a final stop for thousands of victims before they were either executed or sent to Gulag camps. You can almost feel the devastation inside the complex, walking in execution and isolation chambers, or looking at the murals that the prisoners have painted.

 

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

I’m an active user of LinkedIn to keep in touch with my network across the industry. I also like to use Twitter passively – just reading tweets by a number of fund managers, traders and economists. I use Facebook and Instagram on a very limited basis. It seems all the cool folk has moved to TikTok these days and I don’t want to download that app.

 

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

Related to the previous question – I like to follow certain Instagram pages that post silly videos and memes. Once I find something funny I can spend a long time laughing at that.

 

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

In the COVID-19 world, I’ve become lazy, so the best I can do is wearing shorts and a T-shirt. On normal days, whatever that means going forward, I prefer dresses as they are easy to iron and don’t take too much room in my gym bag.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes, always. I ensure I take a moment to acknowledge that the win was thanks to my hard work and really absorb that.

 

What makes you happy?

A breeze of fresh air, sunny weather, the sound of the ocean, my friends and family and sleeping in my own bed.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 29: Stephen Howard


Stephen Howard

Stephen Howard

Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson checking in with Stephen Howard of Howard Trading in Hong Kong.

 

From where and how do you get your news?

The news media is fantastic. However, that is also the challenge with so much. As a result, I scan the BBC, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg sites and listen to Morgan Stanley’s “Thoughts on the Market” podcast for broad market news. However, the majority of my news intake is usually in the form of specific research around a topic.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

Spend time with my wife and son. Whether this is seeing our family and friends, we try to do something outdoors which has been slightly more challenging with physical distancing. However, a run while my son rides along driving the pace is always fun. Recently we’ve rekindled an enjoyment for board games, so I’m now losing Cluedo to my son. I like to play poker. It’s a great game to sharpen your thoughts on risk, probable returns and to remind you to stay humble. I think I have a few years to go before he’s playing.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Everyone who knows me knows I typically have a couple of books on the go. Personal performance books typically focus on “how-to”, so Daniel Pink’s book “When” provides an excellent thesis on when you should do what you do during the day. George Friedman’s “The Storm Before the Calm” is a geopolitical perspective on our current turbulent time and for fun, I’m re-reading PG Woodhouse’s “Uncle Dynamite”.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Mixed and very much driven by what I am doing and my mood. For running I can’t seem to beat “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.

 

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

To start the day, it’s warm water and then a black coffee, no sugar anymore. Drink of choice in the evening, nothing beats a crisp gin & tonic to start the evening and to finish it, a good Japanese whisky.

 

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

Like most people in financial markets, I’ve managed to lose money from time to time. Ensuring I learn from the experience and don’t repeat it is key. Typically, that is the price you need to learn to pay if you choose to be in this business. Transitioning from sell-side to buy-side, I’ve found that a consistent approach to position sizing has a stronger impact on my ability to remain invested and not lose money.

 

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

Very fortunate to have several excellent mentors. All three mentors were with me during the first ten years of my career. What did I learn? A lot being candid, they know who they are as I’ve thanked them on several occasions. So, to summarise: to be honest, open to new ideas, be practical and listen before you speak. I like a quote attributed to Buzz Aldrin “A mind, like a parachute, has to be open to work.”

 

What gives you energy?

A challenge that is realistic, potentially achievable and worthy of attention. Balance that with being active in general. If you can walk – don’t drive and if you can run – don’t walk.

 

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

2020 will go down on record as a terrible year with this health crisis, potentially reduction in civil liberties, how we choose to interact going forward and a very challenging year for financial markets. That said, there are always positives in all situations. Right now, I believe we all appreciate our interactions with family, friends and colleagues. Hopefully, we can all be a bit more patient and listen more. I hope that I remain grounded pretty easily/ It’s a combination of acknowledging that I’ve been very fortunate in life, with work, my upbringing, with my family and with the choice of friends.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

If I had to choose one it would be the Mandarin Grill, in Hong Kong. It’s managed to evolve and change with the times while retaining its core ideology of serving excellent food in a timeless manner.

 

What is your favourite museum in the world?

This has to be the Science Museum in South Kensington, London. It’s just excellent. I took my son in October which seems like a long time ago now. Between the space, the flight and the transportation exhibits, it’s easy to spend four hours there wondering where the time went to. The best part, it’s totally free, so if you have the opportunity to go, then make a donation.

 

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

As an organisation, we have various online presences and we publish material when we feel it’s relevant. As for myself, I use LinkedIn to express ideas and have candid feedback.

 

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

Quite a few. Top of the list are Davidoff cigars and Japanese Hibiki whisky.

 

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

If I’m taking a meeting, then it’s a suit as a sign of respect to the person I’m meeting. Otherwise, let’s be practical and it is chinos or jeans and a sports jacket.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

It’s changed over the years. It used to be with a drink with my colleagues and peers. Now it’s about acknowledging a win, trying to be humble and then continue to move forward.

 

What makes you happy?

Simple – my family, my friends, reading, learning, live comedy, theatre and, when we have the opportunity, the opera.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 28: Anubhav Mehrotra

Anubhav Mehrotra

Anubhav Mehrotra

Our popular Hedge Funds Club Good Life interview series continues with HFC boss Stefan Nilsson interviewing Anubhav Mehrotra, CIO of EASTvine Capital in Singapore.

 

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

My go-to places are Financial Times, BBC and The Guardian. These days it’s impossible to block out various other news avenues and publications and I do frequent them occasionally. But the ones I mentioned have been my news sources for many years now.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

A mixture of spending time with the family – two kids – and some tennis or running and catching up with friends for dinner and drinks.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

It’s a book I re-read once in a while, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

This is a tough one as it depends on the prevailing mood – my default option would be some deep/progressive house music.

 

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

The day starts with a glass of water immediately followed by a strong black coffee. The finish depends on the day but there is a high chance it might be a glass of red wine.

 

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

Too many to list but I’ll mention one that is quite simple and which I will desperately try to teach my kids, and keep reminding myself, the power of compounding! For me, this is the single most important finance lesson.

 

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

I have had the privilege of working with some exceptional managers – the consistent attribute across all would be their work ethic and client focus.

 

What gives you energy?

My family – on most days! Being around positive and driven people. Music.

 

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

It’s not easy and I am by no means close to practising this well, or consistently for that matter – it’s important to differentiate between things you can and cannot control. Put 100% effort behind the things you can control, while still appreciating that the final outcome might be influenced by various other factors. Be humble if successful and remain optimistic if not.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Another difficult question. In Singapore our favourite restaurant, a Spanish one, is Gaig. During my time in Barcelona, I loved Abac and in London, nothing beats a good curry meal at Tayyabs.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

Tate Modern, London.

 

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

I am active on LinkedIn which we use as a channel for regular updates from EASTvine Capital. I enjoy following some interesting and smart people and reading their views.

 

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

I am not sure if it’s a pleasure or sickness, but the thrill of recognising a song without having to Shazam it still gets to me!

 

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

It depends on the agenda for the day and can range from a shirt and jeans to a suit.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

I think it is important to celebrate wins – big and small. The celebration should also be a moment for reflection and gratitude and to regroup for the next challenge.

 

What makes you happy?

Many, many things. This year, Liverpool finally winning the league will suffice!

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 27: Henri Arslanian

Henri ArslanianIn 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 Henri Arslanian in Hong Kong.

 

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

The world of fintech and crypto moves at light speed. I subscribe to numerous newsletters and Google alerts that I scan every morning. But I ensure to go through all the relevant industry media every week as I need to determine what information I will publish in my weekly “The Future of Money” newsletter or my weekly “Crypto Capsule” video. Whilst these take a lot of time, it forces me to ensure that I am on top of all developments.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I don’t. I don’t really believe in work-life balance if you want to be successful or if you are under the age of 45. I actually think that encouraging young people to take it easy rather than telling them that they need to be laser-focused on work is one of the most dishonest advice we give these days to young people. Similar to professional athletes, I have found in my career that it’s that extra 10 per cent effort that I put late at night or on weekends to go above and beyond what my competitors do that gives me the extra 20%-30% results and make me an industry leader. And this is going to be even truer in a post-2020 world. I come from a family of Armenian immigrants where most of my family was massacred during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and where the last 5 generations were each born in different countries and had to start from scratch each time. This turns you into what I like to call a “paranoid optimist” and working hard becomes the norm. And I truly believe that, unless you are a genius or very lucky, working hard is essential to be successful. If I am not working on my “day job” during the weekends, I am normally working on my side projects – e.g. my next book, my script for my LinkedIn videos – or I am busy with my various civil society leadership roles. However, I now have two young kids so I try to take some time to spend with them on Sundays by either going to church or playing with them.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

I now spend most of my time reading newsletters, blogs and listening to podcasts. This is due to the fintech and crypto industries simply moving way too fast! However, I still read a couple of books a year. One of my favourite books of all time must be ”How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Depends on the occasion. When I want to relax, I love listening to old French ballads – Joe Dassin, Michel Sardou, Charles Aznavour, Michel Fugain, Patrick Bruel, etc. To start my day, I love French-African zouglou (Magic System). As background music, I am a big fan of Armenian jazz and Armenian music more generally. When I am working out or before going on stage for a big keynote, I tend to listen to high-intensity music like Tiesto, DJ Antoine, Armin Van Buuren, etc. So it really depends on the occasion. My Spotify algorithm must probably think that I am crazy!

 

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

My favourite way to start the day is with a cup of strong Armenian coffee. However, when that is not available, I go for the brew of the day at Starbucks. All my coffee aficionado friends make fun of me but I actually think it’s good and wakes you up. I like to end my day, especially on weekends, with a glass of great Armenian cognac. The Ararat 10 years is my go-to.

 

What gives you energy?

I am naturally a person with lots of energy! But that is also due to the fact that I work out a lot! I try to hit the gym on a daily basis. When I am travelling, I usually go for runs in the city or work out in the hotel gym. When I am in Hong Kong, my favourites are the spinning or body pump classes at Pure!

 

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

I actually believe that COVID-19 is a great opportunity, for those stuck at home, to work even harder to learn new skills and be ready for the new reality that is ahead of us. I don’t understand all the people who have been spending this quarantine time being “bored” or binging on Netflix. I have been working 16-18 hour days every day since January 2020 trying to get ready. This includes not only taking advantage of this time to work on my next book and producing new content but also learning new skills and reflecting on what changes are coming in order to be ready for them. The world post-2020 will be very different and you better be ready. I really believe that in the coming months, those who have spent this time productively to upskill themselves will have a clear advantage over their peers or competitors. I always tell my students that they need to always sit on the edge of their seat and be ready for the societal and business shifts that will always happen. This is a great example of a major shift and those who spent the time productively to upskill themselves will have a clear advantage over their peers or competitors. For the rest who took it easy, I hope those Netflix videos were fun…

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

My favourite type of cuisine is, by far, Middle Eastern food. There are a dozen or so restaurants in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, that are truly exceptional. Many are actually owned by Syrian refugees who left Aleppo during the war to come and settle in Armenia. My favourite these days is probably Mayrig (means mother) and Zeituna (means olive). Whenever I am in the Middle East, whether it’s Dubai, Riyadh or Beirut, I only eat at Middle Eastern restaurants. In my early days in Hong Kong, I used to take the three-hour train to Guangzhou – where there are great Middle Eastern restaurants – just to have lunch and dinner and come back! In Hong Kong, the most authentic Middle Eastern sit-down restaurant now is probably Sumac in Central.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

I love contemporary art. There are so many now but it’s a toss between the Pompidou in Paris or the Tate in London and MOMA in New York.

 

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

Yes, I am very active on social media and LinkedIn is by far my main platform. I have worked hard over the years and continue to do so every week to produce great content that my followers will enjoy. This has allowed me to reach over 500,000 followers and be named one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in Economy and Finance. It’s good to see that years of hard work have paid off and the industry is finally taking professional social media platforms like LinkedIn more seriously. I really believe that LinkedIn is the most powerful tool in business today. I am still amazed to meet people who are not on LinkedIn or believe it is just for headhunters. I actually refuse to meet anyone professionally who is not on LinkedIn as it is for me an indication that that individual has no sense on personal branding or networking.

 

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

My guilty pleasure is probably Cuban cigars. I have two-three humidors at home and am a member of various cigar clubs. I have also been to Cuba at least a dozen times. There is nothing that I love more than having a nice conversation with someone over a nice cigar. Also, when I need to make an important decision, I will always go somewhere alone, light a cigar, reflect and will have made my decision by the time the cigar is over. Most of my ideas and thinking actually happens over a cigar!

 

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

I am known for wearing a suit all the time. I am probably the only member of the fintech or crypto community who is wearing a suit at all times. My rule is: when you are not smart, dress smart! Actually, people are often shocked when they see me on weekends and I am wearing shorts or a t-shirt!

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Yes, always. But mainly by being grateful. There is a big element of luck in life and I am very fortunate to have been a very lucky person. Just the fact that I was born healthy, grew up not hungry, was not in a war zone or a refugee camp, was able to go to university and make a living already puts me in the 0.01% of the world’s population. We should never forget that. I find that this lottery of life is very unfair. The one thing that you have absolutely no control over, where you are born, has probably the biggest impact on your life. This is why it bothers me when I see people who are healthy, born in a developed country or with a good passport and who don’t try to reach their full potential although nothing stops them. If only they knew how many people would have loved to have won that lottery of life and taken their place. This is why I am grateful to life every day and try my best to reach my full potential and celebrate the wins that come along by being grateful.

 

What makes you happy?

In addition to spending meaningful moments or occasions with my family and two young kids, what I really enjoy is public life and public service. If I was still in Canada, I would have probably gone into politics. For obvious reasons, I am not able to do that in Hong Kong so I try to serve society in different ways. I have been in leadership roles all my life, from my time in primary school where I was in charge of a group of 80 plus boy scouts to my college and university days where I was the president of various student organisations. I have been in leadership roles in most organisations that I have been involved in throughout my career. For example, I now spend lots of time leading the fintech community of Hong Kong or the Armenian community in China. Whilst such roles come with a lot of moral, personal and time obligations, I truly enjoy each second of service.

The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 26: Jeb Altonaga

Jeb Altonaga

Jeb Altonaga

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 Jeb Altonaga, COO of Sandon Capital in Sydney.

 

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

I wake up very early and immediately scan the WSJ, NYT and Business Insider email subscriptions. Then read the news – WSJ and NYT – online and Business Insider and Institutional Investor for articles that catch my attention outside of the email summaries. There are also some great podcasts that I listen on my commute: The Sherman Show, Capital Allocators and Odd Lots to name a few. They’re not daily so it makes it very easy to get through them all each week. On the weekend, I read the weekend editions of the WSJ, NYT and The Australian.

 

What do you do to unwind on a weekend?

I actually find yard work to be very therapeutic. After grabbing a coffee, I’ll mow the land, trim hedges, rake leaves, clear the pathways with a blower, etc. Once finished it feels like a big accomplishment. That usually takes me a couple of hours until about 10.30 am so the rest of the weekend is occupied by my kids.

 

Can you name a great book you have recently read?

Two actually, “Rebel Talent” and “What It Takes” by Steve Schwartzman. “Rebel Talent” I really enjoyed. I’m one of those hard to manage people. Always looking for unconventional ways to accomplish something, not following the rules, etc. It was refreshing knowing I am not alone. “What It Takes” is inspirational. What Schwartzman accomplished in building Blackstone to the success it is today is extraordinary. It gives you hope for something you work hard to build, that with some luck and blood sweat and tears it’ll be a success.

 

Your soundtrack of choice?

Wow, this is probably the most difficult to answer actually. I listen to everything. My Spotify favourites include Frank Sinatra to Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park to Michael Bublé. But my all-time favourite song is “Master of Puppets” by Metallica. If I need energy, that song never fails to get me going. Just not while driving.

 

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

I pound a 20-ounce ice-cold water first thing then make a strong English breakfast tea with milk. Some nights – but not every – a whiskey or Scotch neat.

 

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

Wow! I’ve made many over my life. However, thinking back it would have to be spending frivolously on material things to display my perceived successes. You constantly need something new to feel accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy nice things. However, I’ve matured in my thoughts on what is truly important in life. Experiences over possessions is a liberation that allows you to truly go after what will give you enduring happiness. Now that material pleasure comes from taking my kids travelling to new places. Allowing them to discover the world at their age gives them such a great advantage, one I never had.

 

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

I’ve had a few and always believe having a mentor at any stage of your career is important for continued growth. However, my most influential was Al Miralles. He always encouraged me to keep expanding the team’s and my own abilities to meet the ever-changing needs of the company. Even beyond my remit. It was on one hand extremely entrepreneurial and on the other made you extremely valuable. Continuing to solve problems witnessed provided for a unique perspective to grow your discipline and showed you as a reliable member of the team. This carried me well into Citadel which rewarded me with new responsibilities and career growth. It is also inspirational as I’ve been able to watch Al grow in his already successful career and responsibilities.

 

What gives you energy?

CrossFit, HIIT and MMA classes. I’m getting older and need to keep fit for our career demands and my two young children. I have a daughter who is seven and my son is three. They require you to be physically and mentally fit to keep up with their energy. Plus, as my daughter grows, she’ll eventually want to date. The MMA sparring will come in handy later.

 

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

By always maintaining my tasks as a father. I take responsibility for the kids’ evening routine. It’s a chance for me to connect after a long day and before I get into the US market opening news. That gives me a 2 ½ hour window where we eat dinner, then bath, change into PJs and get ready to wind down. While I read to unwind, they watch some shows or read. My kids were born in Hong Kong and the night owl lifestyle has remained. Then off to bed around 10:30 pm.

 

Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?

Two actually. Gin Sushi in Pasadena, California is my go-to place every time I am home in the States. I usually fly in and out via LA and will stop there as many times as possible. My second favourite is Bravo Trattoria in Sydney, Australia. It is run by an Italian migrant family and is absolutely the best family restaurant in the lower north shore. Plus their gelato is second to none globally. I’ve been going there since my first visit to Sydney in 2007.

 

What’s your favourite museum in the world?

It has to be the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. It isn’t on the usual list like The Louvre, The Met, The Getty, MOMA or Smithsonian which are full of tourists. This has a single person’s best collection which makes it unique for me. The display ranges from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains. The library has historical manuscripts, early printed books and old master drawings and prints. So just different for me.

 

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

Yes, unfortunately! A bit addicted maybe. Personally, I use Instagram, I like the interaction and focus on what I want to see. For business, LinkedIn. In our business, in my opinion, we need to have an online personality that complements any conference panels, white papers, etc. and makes you a perceived influencer in your discipline.

 

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

Going fast… Cars, motorcycles, anything street legal. My driving record across California, Illinois, Hong Kong and Sydney reflects it.

 

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

I actually like to wear a suit. It gives me mental preparedness to get my work started. I also like to dress sharp. I feel too many people get too comfortable being sloppy. But a suit, never a tie, just makes me confident to conquer my day ahead.

 

Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?

Big wins with a treasured timepiece. I have amassed a pretty good watch collection which started when I moved to Hong Kong. I do sell some to make room for others which given the bubble in the market has made it easier to trade one when an ad has a model I like for retail prices.

 

What makes you happy?

Watching my kids age. Seeing the little individual people they’re becoming. Witnessing their quirks, unique traits and observing them discover something new daily. I couldn’t imagine not being around to watch them grow up. However, I also love what I do for a career. I have an extremely competitive spirit. Transitioning to the buy-side 12 years ago has fuelled that nature. I am never disengaged from my passion for capital raising and markets. I guess that is the yin and yang of my happiness or what I’ve adopted as work-life synergies.