An impressed cynic – Week of finance and consulting (3)

Maybe it is because of my background or the fact that I have been around the block for a while or simply just due to my personality, but I generally can’t claim to be an easily impressionable person. Yet this week even I couldn’t resist to feel excited about the companies we visited, the people we met, the discussions we had.  I guess, the proximity of the “Big Money” and the ”Movers and Shakers” of the finance world have awaken even my hunger and ambition.

I guess, what I have appreciated the most, next to the surprising hospitality and approachability of these busy top managers at Zephyr Management and General Atlantic, was their complete honesty. They were not trying to sugar-coat their intentions and try to be politically correct on praising social enterprise just for the sake of being social. Nor were they trying to sell, that the countries they invest in are completely free of corrupt practices or that it was sustainability, which was top of their agenda. They were ready to admit to prioritize return on investment first next to ‘avoid doing evil’. As my friend and colleague, Hari Subedi so correctly quoted at their team’s NASDAQ presentation from the film “Jerry Maguire”, their mantra was to “SHOW THEM THE MONEY”.

While the above two private equity firms gave introduction into how they pinpoint good investment opportunities geographically identifying the relative advantage of countries and sectors, Steven Ibach, on the other hand, was talking about the future of finance. His approach was more highlighting the importance of technological advancement in the upcoming change of the financial industry, including convergence of players in the VC, angel investment side and the appearance of new financial products. My key take-away was that the world is becoming flat even in finance and that with the democratization effect of the internet, which can already be perceived by following the rapid popularity increase of crowd-funding, finance will become much less hierarchical. With wider access to information, increasing number of competitors and financial products will appear for savvier customer to invest in.

Last, but not least the afternoon at NASDAQ, the team presentations and being able to participate at the closing bell, even if the cynic in me whispers about “business tourism”, I have to admit it has made the week complete and the day magical.

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