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Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Feature Book Review: "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis 世紀の空売り―世界経済の破綻に賭けた男たち: マイケル・ルイス

This is a great follow up to Flash Boys, Moneyball, and Liar's Poker. The author has a great way with words and you get a real sense of the traders he speaks to. I was very impressed with this very detailed overview of what what really took place in frothy global credit markets that lead to the mess we discovered later ending both Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers. I was not aware of many of the implications he touches on and how they changed prices for all markets.

We learn about who saw the storm coming well ahead of the trouble to follow and how difficult it was to put on the right trade even if you wanted to. It reminded me of the old saying, "thinking of a new idea is not the difficult part of business, it is making the new idea a reality, and profitable, that is the difficult point". 

The most curious insight was how three amature investors behind Cornwall Capital, did so well shorting CDS, and related trades. For these three to put together a trade so innovative and small in scale at first but so attractive ultimately is a David & Goliath story in many ways. The profile of Michael Blurry, from Scion Capital is very revealing. You often have to be a clear outsider, in order to see what others do not, or refuse, to see around them. There is not always wisdom in crowds. Being able to see a bigger picture can be quite painful. There is no easy way to make a fortune. Mr Market always respects reality in the end. He was also fascinating as he is far from "typical". He is not how you could describe one of the first doctors turned financial bloggers turned hedge fund managers. 

It was the personalities and details of each character, along with their individual struggles, that makes this a page turner. I know how the sad story ended, but that did not matter. I wondered about what I would do in a similar situation. If I could see the future in any financial sense so clearly, yet in such a anti-social manner to so many others in the market, would I continue? Would I just give up and not follow through like these remarkable people? I am not sure given what I have read and given how long it took to be redeemed in the end. It seems in many ways like a pyrrhic victory for some. This was a great profile of the key players in this doomed market, and so many others in the background. It was a fascinating book in order to better understand what it took for them to get their goals and not give up a clear goal that few would widely support. The resistance by many to their correct, but anti-market ideas was often fierce.  Many pioneers go through a similar experience with new ideas no matter what they take on. We all benefit from resistance, but we rarely see how badly it can impact others at the time.

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is no limit to being too careful with your beliefs on investment opportunities. Ethics and counter trends are a true test of any financial firm long term.

2) Reputation can be a weapon, but can also be a weakness. Conviction in any single trade needs to be rock solid the more radical is seems to others in the same markt.

3) The long history and legacy of original thinkers making a fortune. George Soros, is one of many examples of top-tier risk takers seeing a chance and going "all in".

This is a real life account of both historic facts and events that were all part of the pre-Lehman Brothers crisis. This is not a story about the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. In fact, it is about what lead to it. Other books like "Too Big to Fail" go into that aspect in much more detail. This book is about what lead only a few, to see opportunity in the frothiness of financial markets around them. I enjoy absorbing whatever views and biases they had before the big credit party ended. It gives a great multi-layered viewpoint of how a real strong minority really saw the crash clearly, but did not look forward to it despite profiting from it ultimately. This was a very worthwhile read, and now a very compelling movie out with a fantastic cast. Deal junkies will be very satisfied.

Please visit us for our Friday Feature Review where TMJ Partners will review books, movies, services and anything else with a financial theme.  Follow us now for our free weekly updates, just click here. Thank you for reading and learning more about how money is made in finance!

If you are interested in Sales & Trading, Banking or FinTech focused roles in Asia or Japan then click here. Follow TMJ Partners on Twitter, the world's #1 recruiter on Twitter, over 50,000+ followers already have! click here! 

あなたアジア日本セールストレーディング,
バンキング、フィンテックの役割に興味がある場合は、こちらをクリックしてくださいティエムジェィパートナーズTwitterでフォローしてください 世界中のTwitter第1位の採用企業50,000以上のフォロワーが既に持っています!クリックしてください


For more Buy-Side or Sell-Side roles in Asia-Pacific, contact our TMJ Partners Japan & Asia Finance team in Tokyo.
                  
                              Mark  Pink                                             Shinichi Nagasawa
                      Tel + 81 3 3505 3891                                    Tel  +81 3 3505 3891
          Email pinkmark@tmjpartners.com                 Email nagasawa@tmjpartners.com

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Feature Book Review: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley: Blue Blood & Mutiny by Patricia Beard モルガン・スタンレーのための文化的な戦い :ブルー・ブラッド&ミューティニー: パトリシア・ビアード

Big banks seem to have recovered fully in 2017, and Morgan Stanley, under CEO James Gorman, seems ahead of rival Goldman Sachs today. Financial history is tied to both JP Morgan & Morgan Stanley. We now consider Glass Steagall again, but it was in fact this law, the Banking Act of 1933, that split the two in the first place. We now say "too big to fail" after the Lehman collapse, but a similar fear of bank failure in the US, had the same feeling almost 90 years ago. In fact between 1929-1933 over 4000 US banks closed leaving USD400 million in losses to retail depositors. There was no bail out, just panic. Securities had to be separated from banking in the eyes of Congress. 

This was a very different time, when ethics were paramount, and partnerships were dominant. Old school was the norm, and relationships & reputations of partners, true owners, counted for everything. The classic banker then had roll-top desks, with legal handguns allowed to be stored in them! This book covers a wide history including how hats were to be worn by all partners until JFK, plus many other details of the time, came as a curious eye-opening surprise. This book is a great review of how little finance has changed over time. The firm was born after the great depression and two years after the Glass-Steagall Act. The first part of this book explains how Howard Stanley and J.P. Morgan Jr. created a new Investment Bank, Morgan Stanley in 1935. 

J.P.Morgan Jr.'s  quotes and motto have been a part of modern history, that these 2 quotes certainly represent the core values of the firm. "The banker must at all times conduct himself so as to justify the confidence of his clients in him and thus preserve it for his successors." This seems to contrast greatly with the wild stories of bankers behaving badly today. However, more to the point, "I should state that at all times the idea of doing only first class business, and that in a first class way, has been before our minds." It is all very powerful stuff, and a solid foundation of values for a great financial institution.

The second part of this book, is about how this fell apart after a major M&A miss-step, and how the company had to find its way back to the top of investment banking again. Retail and institutional groups do not mix well culturally, and this book just proves this case. In many ways, this is a business case study on why not to merge different cultures like Dean Witter & Morgan Stanley. New CEO Phil Purcell was very unlike old CEO John Mack, and the difference showed. The clues were not clear, but more subtle, and took years to fester, before being brought to the surface. In many ways, this seems like a Harvard Business School case study, on what cultural gaps to avoid in major M&A deals.

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is no limit to being too careful with other people's money. Ethics are a true test of any financial firm long term.

2) Reputation can be a weapon, and was often used by JPMorgan. His rivals sometimes gave up before they should have due to a fear of defeat.

3) The long history and legacy of Morgan Stanley, as a white shoe firm, is impressive. So too are many of the deals done with Fortune 500 firms going back 80+ years.

This is a real life account of both historic roots and recent political battles in the firm. It is worthy of any equal Julius Caesar battle with Brutus, or other senators in ancient Rome. Secret meetings, cultural clashes, men in the shadows all come into play. It has many acts that seem like a thriller, so best to read and enjoy the book as it is told smoothly and with high style. If you like financial history, M&A deals, excitement and thrills from a boardroom, then this is for you. Deal junkies will be very satisfied.

Please visit us for our Friday Feature Review where TMJ Partners will review books, movies, services and anything else with a financial theme.  Follow us now for our free weekly updates, just click here. Thank you for reading and learning more about how money is made in finance!

If you are interested in Sales & Trading, Banking or FinTech focused roles in Asia or Japan then click here. Follow TMJ Partners on Twitter, the world's #1 recruiter on Twitter, over 50,000+ followers already have! click here! 

あなたアジア日本セールストレーディング,
バンキング、フィンテックの役割に興味がある場合は、こちらをクリックしてくださいティエムジェィパートナーズTwitterでフォローしてください 世界中のTwitter第1位の採用企業50,000以上のフォロワーが既に持っています!クリックしてください


For more Buy-Side or Sell-Side roles in Asia-Pacific, contact our TMJ Partners Japan & Asia Finance team in Tokyo.
                  
                              Mark  Pink                                             Shinichi Nagasawa
                      Tel + 81 3 3505 3891                                    Tel  +81 3 3505 3891
          Email pinkmark@tmjpartners.com                 Email nagasawa@tmjpartners.com

Friday, July 14, 2017

CEO Asia Q&A: 金融インタビュー : James Hawrylak: Sustainalytics (AI Quant Edge) ジェームズ・ホリラック: サステイナリティクス (AI クオンツデータ)

Today, we interview James Hawrylak, the Institutional Relations Director of Sustainalytics in Tokyo. James has resided in Asia for 25 years, developing his career in general management and sales & marketing leadership roles while building North American franchises in Japan, Greater China, Korea, Singapore, and Australia.

He has extensive leadership experience gained while running the APAC operations of two Xinhua Finance-portfolio companies: cross-border investor relations boutique Taylor Rafferty and proxy advisory service Glass Lewis. James was since the Executive Director in charge of ISS's commercial initiatives in APAC until June of 2016. In September, 2016 he established the Sustainalytics Tokyo office.

 
1.    When did Sustainalytics start and how many staff are there today globally? What is your focus in Japan, and have you closed any deals of note in Asia?
An early pioneer and driver of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement, Sustainalytics’ current CEO Michael Jantzi originally founded Jantzi Research Associates in 1992. Following years of successful collaboration with several leading European ESG research providers, Jantzi Research Associates merged with these firms in 2009 and formed what is known now as Sustainalytics.

Today, Sustainalytics is an independent ESG and corporate governance research, ratings and analysis firm with 13 offices worldwide.  We support hundreds of the world’s leading asset owners and investment managers with the development and implementation of responsible investment strategies. Our company consists of more than 350 staff members, including 170 analysts with varied multidisciplinary expertise of more than 40 sectors.

Our size and history are worth noting because both position us to leverage our three decades of experience and global footprint to develop cutting-edge solutions such as our ESG Signals, a quantitative artificial intelligence (AI) solution that combines ESG big data, quantitative modeling, and machine learning to identify portfolio risk and opportunities.

Sustainalytics continues to be a growing global company with an interest in entering new markets where the integration of ESG and corporate governance considerations into the investment process appears promising. Japan is such a market since it is the fastest growing market for sustainable and responsible investment, according to recent industry reports. With our office in Tokyo, we are well positioned to capitalize on these market opportunities and better serve our Asian clients directly and global clients with portfolio holdings in the APAC region. In Japan, we have been fortunate to expand our footprint with leading firms such as the Development Bank of Japan, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking, Nissay Asset Management, and Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management. We hope over time to partner with increasing numbers of assets managers who are looking to incorporate ESG into their investment processes.

2.    Where do you see the opportunity for your firm to grow? is there any key advantage you have today in Japan or Asia?
While there continues to be growth opportunities in every major region worldwide, we are seeing significant growth in ESG investing in Japan, followed by Australia. In both Australia and New Zealand combined, responsible investment assets have grown from 2014 to 2016 to reach $515.7 billion, and to a point where in Australia, sustainable investments now account for 50 percent of all professionally managed assets. Our clients in Australia and New Zealand are turning to us for our ESG research to help inform their ESG integration and exclusionary screening practices. We anticipate continued organic growth in both countries for our products and services.

We also anticipate strong growth in Japan as more asset managers incorporate ESG into their investment processes. As one of the largest, most established ESG firms in the world, we believe our key advantages in Japan lie with our ESG company coverage (7,000+ companies) as well as our strong on-the-ground presence. Our Head of Asia Pacific Research is now based in Tokyo, and we have a team of four ESG analysts, who leverage our broader global research infrastructure. In addition, we have a client services manager, and myself, leading the commercial side of growing the business here. In Japan, we see large-scale growth opportunities across asset classes: equities, fixed income, and infrastructure. For equities, research, data, and screening tools are in demand. For fixed income, green bond issuances, for which we write second party opinion research, are at an all-time high and growing rapidly. And for infrastructure, we are seeing new demand for our expertise as Tokyo transforms into a green metropolis.

3.    What attracted you to this opportunity to pursue research on the ESG risks of corporates in Japan?
I had been working in the corporate governance-related space since 2002, but I have been interested in environmental and social issues since I was a university student. Since the fall of 2013, Japan started on a path of drastic reform in corporate governance while a quieter movement into ESG also started to gain momentum. At the time, investor engagement was almost completely limited to proxy voting, but following a series of market developments such as the Japanese Stewardship Code, the launch of the JPX-Nikkei 400 governance index, the Corporate Governance Code, MITI’s Ito Review, the Corporate Law amendment on governance, and the large-scale changes in the GPIF’s asset allocation, governance reform had become the centerpiece of Prime Minister Abe’s Third Arrow. When the GPIF signed the UN Principles of Responsible Investment in the fall of 2015, the heavy lifting was well on its way to completion, and the transition from governance-based shareholder engagement to ESG-based stakeholder engagement was in full swing, and Japan was poised to go from an ESG laggard to an ESG leader seemingly overnight.

Sustainalytics had long been on my radar, and while governance always interested me, ESG was my passion. So, I jumped on the opportunity to open the subsidiary in Tokyo and build the team and business. The ESG market globally, and especially in Japan, continues to rapidly expand and evolve, and Sustainalytics, with its singular focus on ESG, its well-developed reputation as the quality play in ESG research, and its commitment to Japan with a team of seven, is well positioned for long-term growth in the country.

4.    Has this opportunity within analytical research data in Japan or Asia changed in any way due to government actions?  Where do you see ESG going in Asia and Japan over the coming years?
When it comes to ESG expansion, government initiatives have always been one of the most important drivers globally, and it is no different in Japan. Japan’s USD 1.3 trillion GPIF is part of Japan’s Ministry of Labour, Health, and Welfare. So, when the GPIF leads, the market follows—and the GPIF has expressed a strong commitment to develop best-in-class ESG standards, and we believe that this commitment will translate into further appreciation of the value of understanding ESG risk in both investment and proxy voting decision-making procedures.

5.    Are there gaps in understanding that overseas investors do not fully understand that Sustainalytics try and fill regarding Japanese companies? Are there assumptions by overseas investors that are not likely to be true in Japan or Asia that need education?
Yes, one of the most important reasons for opening our Tokyo office was to build a research team with native expertise to research Japanese companies with local insights. Sustainalytics covers about 2,900 Japanese companies in our Controversies research and about 600 Japanese companies for our ESG reports, and now with a team of four Japanese-speaking analysts in Tokyo, every effort has been made to ensure that Japanese primary source materials are researched and used in our research reports on Japanese companies. Japan equities constitutes a material slice of the holdings of large global pension plans, and getting Japan right is critical to overall portfolio performance.

The gaps in understanding that we try to fill generally stem from cultural and linguistic differences in the name of disclosure. Japanese companies tend to disclose less than their peers in North America or Europe. And this sense of humility and understatement that the Japanese often try to communicate quite often tends to get mistaken as a lack of desire to engage. This is where Sustainalytics comes in. With our four Japanese ESG analysts in Tokyo, we are capable of going through voluminous Japanese language disclosure, engage directly with Japanese companies, ministries, regulators, etc., gather feedback, and incorporate it into our internal databases.

6.    Are there project partners or investors that you are searching for at this time for your unique AI analytical product opportunities?
Yes. Quant funds and any other multi-strategy hedge funds that would be interested in testing ESG Signals, which combines ESG data, quantitative modeling and machine learning to identify portfolio risk and opportunities. In the past, ESG integration was limited to a few indicators that showed correlations with alpha and beta, and big data techniques were not being applied to large sets of ESG information. Today, asset managers are looking to integrate more ESG research into their quant models.

ESG Signals explores past correlations between ESG factors, financial and trading variables with three-month forward returns. Heads of research and portfolio managers can use ESG Signals as a portfolio monitoring, alerting and investment decision support tool.

I believe ESG Signals is unique in its approach and could generate some real interest in the quant community. An early adopter would be one of a small handful of players in the market using such a tool, and I think that having such a new and unique view on performance indicators would be enough for most hedge fund managers to have some interest in exploring our AI capabilities.

7.    Where do you see your firm growing the most in the next 2-3 years globally? Will this continue or change into another new direction?
There are several market trends propelling the future growth of our business. While equities have historically been the focus for responsible investing strategies, we are now seeing increasing asset class diversification.

First, we are seeing growth in ESG among retail investors. While we do not directly serve retail investors, we are working with many of the world’s leading investors to help them build ESG products and services for their retail clients. We expect this will only continue to grow as investors create more ESG-related products and services.

We are seeing strong demand from investors looking for credible and transparent sustainability bonds. Green bond, social bond and sustainability bond issuances reached USD 87.6 billion in 2016, and the Climate Bonds Initiative estimates the market to reach USD 130 billion to 150 billion in 2017. We have leveraged our deep understanding of investor expectations and market best practice to support a range of global issuers to provide second party opinions, Climate Bonds Verification and ongoing compliance reviews. 

Funding the transition to a low carbon economy and supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is also leading to more focus on impact and thematic investing. There is a desire by our institutional clients to demonstrate what they are doing as it relates to impact investing and how they are doing it. We are helping investment managers to develop impact frameworks to identify investment opportunities, and constructing frameworks to assess these opportunities.


All of these trends are driving us to create new products and services and enhance existing ones, and our scale and unparalleled subject matter expertise enables us to ensure the long-term relevance of our offerings as investors continue to expand the role that ESG plays in their investment strategies. Those desiring to learn more about our products and services can visit us at www.sustainalytics.com or emailing me at james.hawrylak@sustainalytics.com. We can also be contacted directly on LinkedIn.

Please visit us for our Friday Feature Review where TMJ Partners will review books, movies, services and anything else with a financial theme.  Follow us now for our free weekly updates, just click here. Thank you for reading and learning more about how money is made in finance!

If you are interested in Sales & Trading, Banking or FinTech focused roles in Asia or Japan then click here. Follow TMJ Partners on Twitter, the world's #1 recruiter on Twitter, over 50,000+ followers already have! click here! 

あなたアジア日本セールストレーディング,
バンキング、フィンテックの役割に興味がある場合は、こちらをクリックしてくださいティエムジェィパートナーズTwitterでフォローしてください 世界中のTwitter第1位の採用企業50,000以上のフォロワーが既に持っています!クリックしてください


For more Buy-Side or Sell-Side roles in Asia-Pacific, contact our TMJ Partners Japan & Asia Finance team in Tokyo.
                  
                              Mark  Pink                                             Shinichi Nagasawa
                      Tel + 81 3 3505 3891                                    Tel  +81 3 3505 3891
          Email pinkmark@tmjpartners.com                 Email nagasawa@tmjpartners.com

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Feature Book Review: “Cityboy” by Geraint Anderson (Beer & Loathing in the Square Mile) 英国のトレーダー(ロンドンの金融ノムニケーション)

Unbelievable! In a word, is the only way I can describe what you can get away with in the London markets. Cityboy started out as a pen name for a real equity securities analyst who would spill the beans on the finance industry within London's City district. Many wanted to know who this insider was for a very long time. The stories were very popular, outrageous, but often too true in detail to be made up by anyone not in the industry. 

In the end, after retiring from finance, the cat was out of the bag. Geraint Anderson, the author, is indeed the former equity analyst at Societe Generale, Commerzbank. He finally joined Dresdner Kleinwort, where he was a top stock picker two years running. As a star analyst, he has seen the extremes of the glory years, and has overcome his drug addiction and other lifestyle choices to live and tell the tale. It is quite a fantastic tale and worth hearing. You get a sense that it is fiction, but you accept that it all could really be true. 

I cannot tell you how many times while reading this I laughed out loud, had to stop, and take a break because it was constantly outrageous, and oh so true. How did such a guy even get into finance in the first place? His brother and connections. When your older brother is a fund manager and he "suggests" to a sell-side client to interview him, he gets the job. All this despite just being back from a hippie tour of India, and not owning a proper suit. 

I know many others who dream about finance early on, and study very hard to learn about markets, yet have trouble breaking in. Life can be unfair, but such is in fact life. I think and also wonder what many new MBA types who read this book may learn or refuse to believe. Many parts of the front office are about output, not input as far as education. Even school leavers who "get it" will succeed, while the multiple degree types who lack vision, will still be left behind. At least that was the case until the more recent code kings with algos and AI skills took over.

The work has to get done, and the clients have to be serviced, no excuses. Geraint Anderson, certainly pulls no punches on his behaviour to excess with cocaine and boozing in the pub, but he certainly also warns of the imbalance in finance. There are too many scenes that can only be called hilarious needing full belly laughs. The amount of face time needed to justify your bonus is eye opening for many. It also rings very true when you recognize how close to reality many of these antics are everywhere in financial markets. 


The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:
1) There is no limit to how badly men in finance can drink and treat one another. Hazing culture increases when more cash or cocaine is added.

2) There is no escape from bad habits by your colleagues. Going overboard with excessive drinking while entertaining clients in particular, will be found out no matter how big your P/L.

3) There is a great culture of acceptance of faults within finance. How many times will you wake up wondering why did you do this or that? Typically, it was a good idea at the time, or so your client said. In the end, it is all fun and games if the P/L stays in the black.

This is an easy reading guilty pleasure to enjoy on a train or over the weekend at the beach. It is satisfying mind candy that is very amusing and fills a need to hear about how crazy it has been for some other dealers out there. Money often just magnifies what you are. Just because you have a big bonus, does not mean that you can handle it, or even absorb the delusion of power too many suffer from in many top investment banks. In fact, it can hurt your moral compass when you least expect it. I think the author has made the right move to leave the markets when he did. Not many can get out of the game with such solid timing in real life. This great book is really worth a read and a beer at the same time. Highly recommended!

Please visit us for our Friday Feature Review where TMJ Partners will review books, movies, services and anything else with a financial theme.  Follow us now for our free weekly updates, just click hereThank you for reading and learning more about how money is made in finance!

If you are interested in Sales & Trading, Banking or FinTech focused roles in Asia or Japan then click here. Follow TMJ Partners on Twitter, the world's #1 recruiter on Twitter, over 50,000+ followers already have! click here! 

あなたアジア日本セールストレーディング,
バンキング、フィンテックの役割に興味がある場合は、こちらをクリックしてくださいティエムジェィパートナーズTwitterでフォローしてください 世界中のTwitter第1位の採用企業50,000以上のフォロワーが既に持っています!クリックしてください


For more Buy-Side or Sell-Side roles in Asia-Pacific, contact our TMJ Partners Japan & Asia Finance team in Tokyo.
                  
                              Mark  Pink                                             Shinichi Nagasawa
                      Tel + 81 3 3505 3891                                    Tel  +81 3 3505 3891
          Email pinkmark@tmjpartners.com                 Email nagasawa@tmjpartners.com