I knew I was in Boston the minute I stepped on to the arrival platform at Logan International airport and stood face to face with the one of the Rube Golberg machines. I had been here before, but this time it was for London Business School’s Global Business Experiences (GBE), a week-long academic trip to the US and what I now consider a highlight of my MBA. Alongside 70 of my London Business School classmates, I took on the challenge of “understanding incentives in the asset management industry” in two of the most prominent financial hubs in the world, Boston and New York City.
Within one hour of our arrival, we found ourselves in front of a LBS alumnus Jose Maria Fernandez as he talked about the application of structural finance and portfolio theory principles to design a new type of biomedical investment vehicle. It was a stellar start to a jammed pack week of hearing guest lectures, visiting firms, working on a group project, and mingling with local alumni. It is impossible to cover all the fantastic hosts, and firms we visited but the days in Boston and New York were definitely sparkling, controversial and unique.
One of my personal highlights was a stop at Fidelity’s headquarters, where Ren Cheng engaged us in the subject of capital markets returns. With incredible energy, Ren compared the vibration of London Millennium Bridge on its opening day with the volatility of the financial markets over the last couple of years. I found it captivating the way fractal or frequency distributions are far more faithful representations of capital markets performance than the traditional normal distribution. I’m intrigued to see how alpha investors are going to address this new challenge moving forward.
Another favourite, an intimate round table discussion was with Baupost legend Seth Klarman. We promised our total discretion, however what I can say is the topics discussed perfectly aligned with my Value Investing class back home in London. As investors, we are being trained to master fundamental analysis and identify assets that are mispriced. During the presentation there were many “ah-ha” moments that correspond with my way of thinking: invest not in bargains but with sound businesses!
I have a deep interest in the asset management industry and London Business School has provided me with endless occasions to pursue this passion further. The GBE was a robust week of incredible opportunities and my experiences in Boston and NYC will continue to inspire me to reach out and contribute to the global investment community. As co-president of the Investment Management club I have organised the LBS 2012-2013 Q&A Session with Warren Buffett, a session I’m truly looking forward to.