5 Questions for Global Investment Professionals in 2015

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The meeting of the CFA Institute Annual Conference Advisory Group is the highlight of my conference planning year. Our volunteer advisors are a select group of practitioners, and we convene every year to discuss developments in the capital markets — and society at large — that would be important to feature at the next CFA Institute Annual Conference.

The group hails from across the investment spectrum and around the world. In our brief hours together, the conversation never fails to be a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of investment topics and capital markets issues.

The notes from this meeting serve as raw material for building the plenary, concurrent, and master class sessions that together make the CFA Institute Annual Conference the premier educational event of the year for investment practitioners.

Last May in Seattle, the advisory group convened to discuss topics for the upcoming 68th CFA Institute Annual Conference: Investing with Purpose. Looking through the meeting notes, I am pleased at how many of the questions from our discussions have been included in this year’s program, scheduled for 26–29 April in Frankfurt.

  • Is Europe’s currency union threatened by irreversible trends? And is it possible for Europe to return to sustainable economic growth?

On Monday, 26 April, The Limits of Central Banking and the Prospects for Economic Reform in Europe will be explored by Jürgen Stark, former Executive Board member of the European Central Bank. Following his presentation, Financial Times economics commenter Martin Wolf will discuss The Shifts and Shocks: Global Imbalances, Capital Flows, and Policy in Our Financially Fragile World. The morning will end with a select panel of experts discussing EU Debt and Prospects for Growth: A Fairly “Grimm” Tale? Commentator Liam Halligan will moderate a discussion between Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer for sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor’s; Michala Marcussen, CFA, head of global economics at Societe Generale; and Hans-Werner Sinn, professor of economics at the University of Munich and president of Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

  • What do changes to market structure and other financial innovations mean for investors?

Have recent developments created opaque markets that are hostile to investors? Or will recent innovations lead to better long-term results for financial markets once participants understand how to apply them effectively?

We’ll explore these questions in an important session on Tuesday, 27 April: Financial Innovation, Market Structure, and the Implications for Investors. Investor and commentator Gemma Godfrey will lead a roundtable discussion with Irene Aldridge, managing director and quantitative portfolio manager at ABLE Alpha Trading, LTD.; Haim Bodek, managing principal at Decimus Capital Partners LLC; and James H. Freis, Jr., CFA, managing director and chief compliance officer at Deutsche Börse AG.

  • Can human bias be overcome for more effective investment decisions?

What insights can behavioral finance offer into the investment process, and how do human emotions impact investment decision making? Are there ways to counteract our biases and our emotional responses to risk and reward?

We’ll feature two sessions exploring these issues on Sunday, April 26, with Roland Ullrich, CFA, providing An Introduction to Neuroeconomics and John Coates, former derivatives trader and current University of Cambridge research fellow in neuroscience and finance, delivering a keynote address on The Biology of Risk Taking.

  • How much of an influence should geopolitical concerns have on the investment decision making process?

Tensions continue to grow in the South China Sea, while ISIS remains an ongoing concern and unresolved conflicts surround the Russian annexation of Crimea. Should geopolitics-driven investing become the new normal?

Ian Bremmer, President and founder of Eurasia Group, will discuss The Return of Geopolitics and What It Means for the Global Investor, on Wednesday, 29 April, and Philippa Malmgren, founder of DRPM group, will discuss geopolitics for investors in her session at the Research Foundation Workshop for the Practitioner on Sunday, 26 April.

  • What does it mean to “Invest with Purpose?”

Does there have to be a conflict between investing to meet the needs of clients and investing to make a positive social impact — without sacrificing returns? How do leading investment professionals find fulfillment in their career choices? Several sessions at the 68th CFA Institute Annual Conference will address these issues.

In a double-session Master Class on Understanding ESG Investing: Fundamentals and Implementation, professors from Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment will discuss environmental, social, and governance issues in investing.

In a plenary session on Tuesday, 27 April, Roger Urwin will lead a discussion with Keith P. Ambachtsheer, director emeritus of the International Centre for Pension Management at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto; Leo de Bever, former CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corporation; and Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow at Fung Global Institute as they examine Long-Termism and the New Era of Fiduciary Capitalism as part of the CFA Institute Future of Finance Initiative highlighting the importance of Putting Investors First.

On Wednesday, 28 April, Nell Derick Debevoise, founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital; Russell Read, CFA, chief investment officer and deputy chief executive of Gulf Investment Corporation; and Klaus Tischhauser, co-founder and CEO of responsAbility Investments will share their perspectives on what it means to invest with purpose. These three shorter presentations, designed to encourage more direct connections between the audience and speakers, will be a new format for the CFA Institute Annual Conference.

In addition to these major themes, the 68th Annual Conference will also feature a full schedule of unbiased, practitioner-relevant sessions across a spectrum of investment topics, including crypto-currencies, infrastructure investing, private wealth management, sovereign wealth funds, and more. Online registration for the event is closed, but you can follow social media highlights from the event and watch select conference presentations online.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Photo credit: Stephen Campbell, 2014

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