Prior to the AIC I was both excited and full of questions, as I did not quite know what to expect of the coming week. I had read the agenda and been briefed on my role as a full participant in the conference, but nevertheless an event of this calibre was something quite new to me. What would I learn? Who would I meet? What was expected of me? These just were some of the many questions running through my mind at the time. So, looking back at the conference, how did it all eventually play out?
From the first day to the last, the presentations proved to be on the high level I had expected. All of the speakers were selected because of their expertise in their field, and the concentration of top-of-the-line presenters became more evident with every keynote and panel discussion I attended to.
The topics were invariably interesting. James Boullard clarified the Fed's view on the international monetary cooperation and the problems caused by ECB's insufficient QE. Several speakers shed light on the state of Chinese debt, both that of local governments as well as the situation in mortgages. A lively panel on geopolitics painted a not-too-rosy picture on the risks of nationalism and the different characteristics of the phenomena in different countries. With up to twenty daily panels or keynotes from which to choose from, the topics ranging from Macau's casinos to the value of making mistakes, the week was information-packed from the beginning to the end.
But the subjects on the official agenda were just a part of what I learned during the AIC. Attending the conference with the APAC region's most important financial professionals offered a unique opportunity to gain the kind of experience that is impossible to simulate on university courses. I engaged in personal conversations with a diverse selection of interesting people and learned first-hand how finance professionals think and how they conduct themselves in different situations. This networking was at least as valuable as the official content of the conference. For a student the chance to meet the persons who build the industry is immensely valuable, as it casts light from a different angle to the content of our formal education and the information we receive through the media.
A third, just as valuable, part of the mix were the warm, intensive and insightful mentoring received from the people of Project Firefly and the close relations with the kind folk of Credit Suisse. Thanks to the hard work of these amazing persons, I spent a week in Hong Kong whose worth for an economics student was in a league of its own. I truly believe the AIC experience will be one of the grounding stones of my professional career, and recommend anyone with an interest in finance to take part in Project Firefly's competitions.