In the final post from the CFA Institute Annual Conference, Kenneth Brandborg, gives you his insights from the reception, and final remarks from the last speeches at this year’s conference.
By Kenneth Brandborg, Associate Partner | The 25th of May 2017, Philadelphia, USA
The conference reception
In my last blog I left you off, just before I went to the annual conference reception. Which is something I look forward to every year.
This year’s reception was held in the National Constitution Center. It gave us the opportunity to learn about American history and the signing of the constitution. In good company, food, drinks, and wine were served to the sound of live music.
Unfortunately, the room was too big, which made it seem rather empty the entire night.
Since there were so many empty tables, it meant that you sat at an empty table with your own group, instead of joining other groups at half full tables. I got to talk a lot with the other Danish participants, but very little with other participants. But all together it was a very pleasant evening as always.
After an enjoyable evening, I returned to the hotel, headed to bed, and got ready for the last day of the conference.
The good company and diversification
The last day is only a half one. There are three sessions before noon and then goodbyes.
First up, there was a panel discussion on how to build a great company.
In this case, a great asset management company. The almost ground breaking conclusion was: Hire talent! Who would have guessed.
Secondly, they concluded that diversification is good. I couldn’t agree more.
On that note, I might add, that diversification can be very difficult.
And one very positive trend at the annual conference this year was the notable larger share of female participants compared to earlier years. However, at least 2/3 of the participants are male, but it has changed considerably.
On that note, I might add, that diversification can be very difficult.
Take the company where I work for instance. At CMP, we are a diverse group of people when it comes to skills, and personal interests. But we are all men. And we would love to hire female consultants – but there are almost only male applicants for our vacancies. So, any females reading this with an interest in the consultancy industry – reach out, if you would like to work for us!
The benefits for a diverse workplace are undeniable. Except from that the diversification topic, the panel discussion was not able to raise new or interesting questions. It had no edge, as everybody agreed on everything.
The future point of view on technology
Next up was Scott Klososky, the founder of Future Point of View.
It is often the case that the last day of the conference offers a real treat. Something a bit off topic, compared to the rest of the agenda – and that he was. Both a treat and off topic.
It was a tour de force on how the world (maybe) will change because of technology. According to Scott, the technology revolution happens in a window from 2000 to 2050.
His view was that the next step in that process will be the entanglement of things. As an example, he presented Spün. A product you hardly believe is real. Our everyday life will be more and more entangled with technology, and implementation of tech into our bodies is not that far away.
His major concern is cybersecurity.
Currently hackers lock up our files, and demands a ransom to open it again. But think about the future, when everything is interconnected. Hackers can in fact switch of a pacemaker or other things that will inflict real life pain.
That’s frightening. Scott also had a very interesting view on what great management of companies is. Technology changes exponentially but organizations change logarithmically. The growing space between these two is the room where great managers move their companies.
The technological revolution in investment management
One last, more comforting thing he told, was how the investment management will be hit by the technology revolution. His points are the exact same as those we, at CMP, have identified:
Data harvesting will grow dramatically.
Structuring, mining and modeling all that data will be crucial for the business and on top of that the ability to transform that data into reporting and data storytelling will be a key area for success.
Global economy and financial markets
The last presenter was Abbey Joseph Cohen, CFA. She is top strategist at Goldman Sachs, and has been the person who called the shots in global macro analysis in the pre-crisis years.
The subject was ‘The Outlook for the Global Economy and Financial Markets’. And here it gets a little bit funny. When this subject is presented by an American, it means: ‘How are things going in the US’.
It shows that sometimes CFA has a bit of a way to go, before they are a truly global organization, and not just an American organization with branches worldwide.
None the less, Abbey was knowledgeable and had a relatively interesting session – but it was not the best closing session I have seen. But she gave them – the last words – and by that, yet another annual conference had come to an end.
Yet another conference has come to an end
We shook hands and went out into Philly, filled up with a lot of new knowledge and views on the world.
So now it’s over.
One thing I haven’t touched upon is all the strange things that happens between the sessions.
There is an exhibitors’ hall, where all the sponsors have a stand. They bring all kinds of weird stuff.
I have gotten 4 water bottles, a thermos, a micro size American football, a mini soccer ball and an iPad cover. And I could have collected much more.
The curious thing about getting these free merchandise is that relatively well paid people hunt them like crazy. They have bags stuffed with it. Why? I don´t know. I don’t even know how I ended up with all the stuff that I got.
And I got my shoes shined. There was a stand, where you could get your shoes shined. I have never had that shiny shoes. I never found out, who the sponsor was, but neither me or my shoes cared, we are just happy they got that shiny.
To conclude the CFA Institute Annual Conference, it has fully lived up to my expectations.
The three main learnings I will take with me back home are:
- Behavioral finance is maturing into actual strategies, but still the fans of behavioral finance use more time pointing fingers at the traditionalists, than they do producing new solid models.
- CFA institute has found out that Fintech is on the menu, but they have no idea how to include it into their world of old school investment management.
- I hope that I will meet a lot of my fellow professionals next year in Hong Kong, where the conference will take place from the 13th to the 16th of May.
Thanks to the CFA Institute for yet another conference that put the latest thinking, expert opinions, and networking opportunities at the center for investment management professionals. It has been a great experience.
And thank you to those who have been following the conference from my point of view. It has been a pleasure to share.
See you next year!
Kenneth Brandborg, Associate Partner
Kenneth, CFA charter holder, has worked in the financial sector since 2001 with focus on implementation and development of risk management, performance calculation and investment management systems.
Read more about Kenneth and our other CMP consultants here