An article by current MIF student Samuel Harrison, who just got back from the New York trip with some other selected members of MIF class 2011.

Financial markets have been remarkably resilient so far this year. Perhaps investors have finally come to terms with the array of macro uncertainties present within today’s investing framework. That is certainly one possible scenario, although the cynics among us would argue that this resilience is blind optimism and simply marks the underpinnings of another build-up to disappointment, a la, the latter half of 2011. Whatever thesis turns out to be correct, one thing is for sure: 2012 will be an extremely interesting year for global investors.

To gain further insight into the current investment climate, select members of the MIF class went to New York last week on an excellent trip organized by Dr. Kevin Spellman, the pioneer behind IE’s portfolio management module. Once in NYC, we met up with high ranking employees of investment banks Goldman Sachs, Citi, UBS, as well as numerous hedge funds and asset managers, including Brave Warrior, Rothschild asset management and many more (including a tour of the NYSE). While some students actively pursued career opportunities at these firms, even taking interviews there and then, others were just there for the excellent learning experience.

What came to light in visiting such a wealth of talented financiers over such a short amount of time is the obvious divergence in viewpoints that exists concerning today’s current investing climate. While some individuals were confident, advocating being bullish financial stocks for example, others warned that their active investment strategy was staying well clear of any industry’s with overhangs (ie Financials), and cited regulatory uncertainty as more than worrisome. The latter were maintaining a neutral to defensive stance. Indeed, a distinct lack of clear market direction was a signature trait of 2011, and while 2012 has kicked-off with a solid foot forward, the lack of agreement amongst leading financiers we met could be a clear indicator of more of the same for the ensuing year.

 

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