Alexander Kostyra's picture

Reflections on the AIC: A Unique Opportunity for Students

I have just arrived back in London but I am still reflecting on my experiences at the Asian Investment Conference (AIC) in Hong Kong last week. In this blog, I would like to encourage all of you to participate in Project Firefly’s Emerging Leaders Competition (ELC) in future years.

But first, I want to thank Daniel, Simon and the rest of the Project Firefly team for organizing this wonderful trip and Credit Suisse for giving me the opportunity to take part in this amazing conference. Moreover, I want to thank my fellow ELC ’14 winners, Gregory and Nikolai, for the unforgettable moments in Hong Kong.

The AIC is one of the major finance conferences in the APAC region and attended by some of the world’s most important policy-makers, business leaders and professionals in the field of finance. Anyhow, I am sure you can familiarize yourself with the agenda of the conference online and therefore I will not elaborate on it in this blog. Instead, I would like to highlight the value of this conference for everyone who thinks about participating in the ELC in the future.

Of course, attending the AIC allows you to learn about today’s and tomorrow’s global economic issues in panel discussions and keynote speeches; thereby, you can deepen your knowledge of finance and economics. Hot topics this year included challenges related to Abenomics in Japan and structural reforms in China as well as the future of monetary policy in the United States. In my experience, however, the biggest benefit of the AIC often tends to be overlooked: enlarging your personal network! During the last week, I have met many senior managers at hedge funds, private equity firms and asset management companies, corporate C-level executives and international policy-makers.

All of the people I have met were really approachable and keen to share their experiences in the industry. I was particularly interested in the investment style of various hedge funds and the background of their managers. Most of these funds invest in APAC stock markets (long/short or long only strategies) and the portfolio managers indeed confirmed the inefficiency of these markets – one of the results of my ELC essay. Out of the three factors determining market inefficiency which I scrutinized in this essay, corporate governance issues have caused the biggest concerns for investment professionals.       

On the other hand, various portfolio managers wanted to read my essay and asked me to forward it to them. In follow-up meetings, I then received the opportunity to discuss the technical details of my empirical analysis with them. It was great to listen to their views on Asian stock markets and to obtain information on how to exploit the market inefficiencies as well as ideas for many more essays. These are the kinds of experiences that are invaluable for students. 

If the opportunity to increase your financial and economic knowledge, and the opportunity to enlarge your personal network still do not motivate you to participate in future ELC competitions, then you may feel incentivized by a trip to Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most vibrant cities, and an abundance of luxurious food and drinks. It is totally up to you what you take away from the AIC.

In any case, I do hope that this blog post has encouraged you to take part in the Emerging Leaders Competition in future years. Remember: it requires some effort to be invited to the AIC in Hong Kong, but you will be rewarded handsomely!

Best of luck to all of you!

Alex