The information provided on this blog offers perspective on my professional interests. Selected articles may appear elsewhere in corporate publications.
Finding investors is an athletic event. Project sponsors can fail to appreciate that capital sources are deluged with deal flow. One key to unlocking cash is to start the process with a fully qualified list of candidates, identified through intensive desktop research. Overnight success is likely winning the lottery; it seldom happens.
I did not have an earthen feel for commodity investing until I moved to Florida, where the largest economic sector is agriculture, not travel and tourism. Many financial-market practioners are distracted by the ebb-and-flow of commodity futures trading; I prefer to think about long-term cycles.
Investment flows between nations can be impacted by political events, adding a layer of complexity to risk analysis. Government actions sometimes support cross-border business, but they are an obstacle more often than not. On the international stage, strongmen leaders are overturning established commercial strategies.
My firm is at home with corporate venture capital. Maybe it is the suit-and-tie mentality of most enterprise executives. That culture gave birth to my own entrepreneurial spirit. My first-round advice to startup founders: Facts and figures must be fully-defendable. Those shark-like men and women across the table probably know more than you do.
The notion that fintech is a new asset class is misleading. Banks have always had computers. Fintech may simply describe the current phase in the history of the financial services industry. Innovations range from cryptocurrencies to peer-to-peer lending platforms to mobile banking.
If it were a stand-alone nation, the Sunshine State would rank in the top-20 worldwide by economic output. Yet it is still a touch smaller than New York, Texas, or California. One little known fact: Brazil is traditionally the state’s largest international trading partner, in part because of the tourism sector.
Perhaps I was first mesmerized by frontier markets on a trip to Zamboanga in the 1980s. The intent was field research to polish off academic work on piracy in Southeast Asia. When I asked the shopkeeper at the local market about his hefty stock of Japanese-labelled soy sauce, he explained, "It's a one-time cargo offer."
Those years spent working as an investment strategist for a bulge-bracket Wall Street firm offer priceless memories, largely because of the outlandish talent with whom I worked. The most surreal story? It must have been that extended stay at Cannes' Carlton Hotel for a 20-minute meeting with a certain gliterato. It was a very good meeting.
I was once reading a book about the history of the Islamic faith on a flight from Jeddah to Riyadh. The Saudi man sitting across the aisle leaned over mid-flight and declared, "You don't look Muslim." I replied, "I've read the Quoran. Where does it explain what a Muslim is supposed to look like?"
My first resort project was an ultra-lux development deep in the Amazon jungle. It was a stunning property, complete with its own airstrip. Investors were ill at-ease with the site visit. At the time, the location offered few modern amenities. The six-hour connecting flight from Sao Paolo to Santarem was a rough-and-ready experience.
Making cities more livable sounds like a winning scenario, but urban-based technologies may also accelerate the sharp divisions in society between the technologically-savvy and the poorly-educated. More apps and better internet are not a cure-all for racial, social, and ecological problems.
Banner Image: Urbanlight at Can Stock Photo Inc.