Five Essential Issues for Financial Professionals in the Year Ahead

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Directions
Experts on the front lines at the intersection of technology and business have concluded that the way we work and live will be transformed by ever-increasing amounts of data and more powerful processing tools combining in new ways. In the financial sector, new investment platforms and technological advances are changing the work of investment professionals and transforming investment paradigms.

The CFA Institute Annual Conference Advisory Group, which is a select group of practitioners hailing from across the investment spectrum and around the world, directed us to many topics and speakers that dealt with these changes when discussing the 69th CFA Institute Annual Conference.

The conference, which will be held in Montréal, Canada, on 8–11 May 2016, will examine Investing in a Changing World. Top economists, prominent investors, bestselling investment authors, and governmental and regulatory leaders at the event will share insights into these key issues:

  • How are the global financial markets changing? 

Macro-changes create investment opportunities and challenges, and several conference sessions will highlight aspects of the global economy. Michael Pettis, professor of international finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management will provide insights into China and its role in the world economy. Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director for energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis, will provide an overview of the global energy markets. A distinguished panel of experts — including Carolyn Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada — will discuss the changing global bond market and implications for investors. And Peter Zeihan, geopolitical strategist and author of The Accidental Superpower, will discuss global political dynamics and developments in the Middle East.

  • What technological changes must you understand to remain successful in the face of disruption?

The work and careers of current investment professionals are being transformed by new technologies, and staying ahead of the curve will be important. Ashby Monk, executive and research director of the Stanford Global Projects Center, will lead a double-session master class on How Technology Will Change the Business of Investing. Other sessions at the conference feature Jonathan B. Stein, CFA, the CEO of automated investing service Betterment, discussing the future of advice and Eric Cole, chief scientist at Secure Anchor Consulting, discussing ways to manage cyber-security risks in a high tech world.

  • What skills will keep you competitive in a changing world?

Beyond understanding technological advances and market changes, practitioners should enhance their skills in a variety of areas. Author Tracey Wilen will discuss the effects of globalization and rapid technology changes, focusing on the new skills necessary to develop strategies to stay employed for life. Jeremey Hunter, associate professor of practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management, will discuss the use of mindfulness techniques to manage your work and life in today’s fast-paced world. And Tom Brakke, CFA, will discuss communicating effectively within a firm and with clients.

  • Where can you find new investment models and insights? 

At the conference, a number of presenters will discuss investment strategies and models for consideration. Rupal J. Bhansali, senior vice president and chief investment officer of international and global equities of Ariel Investments, will discuss her “contrarian value investing” model and investment techniques. Laura Taylor, CFA, managing partner and chief financial officer of Nephila Capital, will discuss the portfolio diversification benefits of investing in catastrophe bonds and other insurance-linked securities. A panel discussion, featuring Michael Sabia, president and CEO at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec; Ron Mock, president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan; and Dana Muir, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Business Law at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, will discuss lessons that can be learned from the Canadian public pension model. And Ibrahim Warde, adjunct professor of international business at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Nicholas F. Kaiser, CFA, director, chairman, chief investment officer, and portfolio manager at Saturna Capital, will teach a master class discussing the fundamentals of Islamic finance and how western investment managers have navigated the uncharted waters of Islamic investing to find success.

  • How should you define investment success?

Do investors need to sacrifice financial returns in exchange for social benefits, or can business and investment models incorporate potential benefits into their valuation and decision-making processes? Sessions at the event will help frame the issue by investigating aspects of investing for the ultimate benefit of society. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World will discuss the crucial role of business in creating a more positive future, highlighting business models that do good while making a profit. Bob Geldof, businessman, political activist, songwriter, musician, author, and co-founder of the 8 Miles private equity fund, will discuss investing in Africa and making a difference — he may challenge your beliefs about the nature of investing.

In addition to these major themes, the 69th Annual Conference will also feature a full schedule of unbiased, practitioner-relevant sessions across a broad range of investment topics that include: skill, scale, and luck in active management; risk and opportunities in high-yield investments; emerging country debt; the client advisory process for wealth management professionals; factor-based versus industry-based asset allocation; and core principles in behavioral finance. Please join us for the 69th CFA Institute Annual conference in Montréal and share in the global discussion on “Investing in a Changing World.”

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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: ©iStockphoto.com/erhui1979

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