Past occupations: asset management

I was a political risk / fund strategy analyst in one of my previous incarnations. The job was within the asset management unit of an oil major, broadly charged with investing the company’s multi-billion pension assets. In that way, it is very similar to a fund manager you can find anywhere in the Londons, New Yorks, etc. The difference, though, was that big corporate culture – with its pros and cons – permeated the walls.

The job sounded perfect back then: It would marry my (then-)affection for politics and emerging markets with business, while maintaining an almost academic research bent. And travel it meant! The job description and the incumbent both told me that frequent research trips were a must. Just a bit more than a year into life in a corporate behemoth like that, that sounded very enticing.

A few interviews later, I had the job and got ready to move to The Hague. Meanwhile, the financial crisis had hit for real and saw financial markets drop calamitously and flows in asset management grind to a halt. Fantastic timing, I thought. Thankfully for us back then, life moved on and markets stabilised thanks to an unprecedented wave of central bank interventions. Riding the liquidity wave, 2009 and 2010 were actually pretty decent years for long-only funds.

Over the next weeks, I will post some memorable anecdotes from my trips around the world. I jotted them down in order not to forget them myself. But who knows, maybe others find them interesting, too.

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