Blog post written by Mario Federico Grasso, current student of the Master in Finance 2015.


Before the Easter´s break I had the pleasure to join the anual IE optional trip to New York City which was organized by IE Finance Professor Kevin Spellman, and the Academic Department represented by María Fernández de Mesa.

I would just like to share with you how lucky I feel to be part of IE. The network that IE Business School has overseas is unbelievable. Professor Kevin, the coach, introduced us to the best financial institutions in the most important financial center in the world.

We had the opportunity meet with a Director of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager.  We had a very interesting chat with Joseph Wolfe, Director of the BlackRock Large Cap Series, a quant expert about risk management, which Mr. Wolfe defined as “the most misunderstood branch of finance”. What I enjoyed the most about all the meetings was the extremely friendly attitude of every professional whom we met with. I don’t know exactly how many students of European Business Schools had the chance to discuss the pros and cons of HFT with a Blackrock quant expert in Manhattan, but I am quite sure the number is very limited and we, IE Finance students, were some of the very lucky ones.

We also visited the Citi’s hHadquarters where we met John Rogers, Associate Director of Research with 12 years of experience who taught us the three things that as analysts we should do with our clients:

  • Make them think
  • Make them laugh
  • Make them make money!

On the 2nd day of the trip we all moved to Stamford (everyone was excited about going to California, but then we realized that it was in Connecticut!) in order to meet with the team of the firm of a living Wall Street legend: Steven Cohen. Point72 is the new name of SAC Capital Advisors (since March 2014). The firm has roughly $12 billion of AUM: S. Cohen contributed for 80% of the capital; the rest was provided by the employees.

I was truly impressed by the team composition of Point72. Three quarters of the PMs are home-grown and some are in their early thirties. Can you roughly estimate the percentage of the home-grown PMs in any asset management branch of a bulge bracket I.B.? The commitment of the people at Point72 is exceptional and this will pay off in the long term.

Another inspiring meeting that we had was with a former student of professor Kevin Spellman, from Ohio, who set up his own hedge fund. Listening to his story and what inspired him to set up his own business motivated all of us. After graduation Aasim Khwaja struggled to get a job and had to wait for months until he found a family office willing to hire him. After several years of hard work he gained the trust of his boss, who helped him start his own fund.

During this trip, we met a great number of people who are very worth mentioning, such as the UBS Director of US Equities Research, the #1 ranked investment strategist in the US, hedge fund managers, equity traders; but for me, the unconventional life experience of Aasim Khwaja was one of the best lessons of the week.

To sum up, the trip to New York City was a tremendous opportunity for our group to connect not only with highly skilled professionals from New York, but also with current students of all the Masters in Finance Programs at IE Business School (Master in Finance, Master in Advanced Finance, Global Master in Finance) as well as the students of the University of Winsconsin-Milawaukee and I greatly appreciated having this trip as part of my academic experience at the IE Master in Finance.