News > All

Mikhail Zelman, the man behind Burger&Lobster on his first McDonald’s hamburger and selling 5,000lbs of lobster a day
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Mikhail Zelman is certainly one of the most successful restaurateurs in London. His company Global Craftsman Group (GCG) includes 13 Burger&amp;Lobster chains, 3 Goodman steakhouses, Smack Lobster Roll, Rex &amp; Mariano, and Beast, which only serves Canadian crab and Nebraska-fed beef, writes FinBuzz.</p> <p>Zelman’s business started in London, but now seven more restaurants will open, one in Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE. Mikhail invited Gyuzel Gubeydullina to interview him at his Mikhail Zelman School of Success office. Here, aspiring restauranteurs are taught how to welcome guests, choose meat, and cook the world’s best burgers and lobster.</p> <p>In fact, there is no menu, just two options: a burger or lobster.</p> <p>In London, it is expected to have to wait for a table, but it is rare to see a queue of people lined on the streets in the rain for a lunch. This is what I saw at the Burger&amp;Lobster in City, near the Royal Exchange. Right now it is my favorite restaurant, but there is one but – you even need to book a table for lunch. But who knows the price/quality balance better than investment bankers, working here in City?</p> <p>Soon the empire is set to expand. London’s chattering classes are talking about the (so far unconfirmed) news that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a sovereign wealth fund, has invested 30 mln pounds in Zelman’s business. If the rumours are true, they are understandable for them to be impressed by the fact that the total monthly revenues of his restaurants are between £50,000-140,000. In an attempt to understand the phenomenon of Mikhail Zelman, who before was a stockbroker in Russia, we went for an interview.</p> <p>BEING A RESTAURANTER IN RUSSIA IN THE 1990s</p> <p>Mikhail, tell us how it all began?</p> <p>I finished school at age 14 in 1991 because I wanted to start working. In the 1990s, there were stores in Russia that were selling foreign stuff and everyone wanted to buy these things. I needed money to take girls out on dates, so I finished school as soon I could and went to work for my father — as a fitter-adjuster in the tool shop, where I stamped lids for the canning. I lasted only seven days. But I still remember my mentor Zura Mikhailovich.</p> <p>What a great career! How did you get interested in restaurants?</p> <p>I quickly understood that I had a unique opportunity to build my own business, do things that my father would have shot dead for. So I had this desire to make money and went to work for the Commodity Exchange, I was the youngest broker! I was trading vouchers for former Soviet factories that still produced and sold stuff like canned meat, machinery. Because of the weak economy, everything was sold on a barter basis. That year I bought myself my first car. Then I went deeper into business and started to organise logistics for the factories that were selling abroad. My older brother was already living in Israel. I visited him and was struck by when we ate at a Mongolian bar and grill After coming back to Moscow I persuaded a friend to open the same restaurant in Moscow. We called it Tamerlan. Working there I first realized that I had to be a restaurateur and that meat is my passion.</p> <p>Why meat?</p> <p>It all comes from the childhood. My dad — a very welcoming character. We always had guests at home, laughing and enjoying homemade barbecue from a hand selected meats. </p>
The rise of robo-advisors
FinTech
<p>The increasing presence of robo-advisors in the financial industry worries some investment professionals. If artificial intelligence can meet the needs of clients who want low-cost, tailored, active management of their savings, then the role of human intermediaries will soon become obsolete.</p> <p>Kurt Schacht, managing director of Standards and Financial Market Integrity at the CFA Institute, took a deep breath and checked out a robo-adviser.</p> <p>He found that it was “highly effective and efficient—probably a much better service and product than the traditional retail brokerage account with a salesperson on the other end”.</p> <p>The robot welcomed him to the platform, asked a dozen questions about his financial history, objectives and risk tolerance and quickly created an optimal portfolio of low-cost, no-transaction-fee funds.</p> <p>“It was slick and much more tailored and calculated than working with a typical broker salesperson”, writes Schacht.</p> <p>But there was a flipside. The experience was cold and impersonal.</p> <p>“It was as if investment management had been reduced to the equivalent of a drive-through fast food restaurant”.</p> <p>But, quant providers feel that their time has come. At a recent event in New York where he participated as a panellist, Schacht found that they are convinced that few aspects of financial analysis, security selection and asset allocation can be delivered better by humans.</p> <p>Eventually, they argue, soft skills for client relationships and communications will be unnecessary.</p> <p>After all, who needs to talk with a real person who understands your financial challenges and appreciates your desired outcomes if a computer can get you to the same place in seconds?</p> <p>“For traditionalist CFA charterholders who bleed the virtues of client loyalty, service, and professional judgment, the robo-adviser trend is disturbing,” writes Schacht.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cyberport and NexChange are hosting an O-2-O meetup that will discuss this issue as well as examine many other opportunities and challenges that new financial technologies are creating in the wealth management industry.</p> <p>The event will feature five speakers closely involved in the latest developments and it should attract a wide cross-section of more than 200 delegates:</p> <p>Date: October 27, 2015</p> <p>Time: 16:00-19:00</p> <p>Venue: Cyberport 3, Hong Kong</p> <p>Please register here</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: Andrej Blagojević</p>
Barron's Roundup: The bulls still have it
Capital Markets
<p>October 17, 2015</p> <p>The bulls aren't gone yet. More than half, or 55%, of those surveyed by Barron's say they are bullish or very bullish about stocks at least through next June. When Barron's did a similar poll in the spring, only 45% of respondents were so optimistic. Maybe that 11% market correction in August has people feeling a bit better about the the value of stocks, or maybe it's the Fed's continued drag on actually raising interest rates. Either way, it's pretty much sunshine and rainbows for these equities guys.</p> <p>Hold on to your EMC stock; double digit gains are in your future. Dell's proposed purchase of EMC hasn't benefited shareholders yet, but Barron's is pretty optimistic that it will. Investors could earn a more than 10% return when the $67 billion deal closes, likely next summer, Barron's reports. Worst case scenario for EMC, if the Dell deal does fall through, there are other available options, such as a spin off.</p> <p>Looking for your next best stock pick? Chris Davis, chairman of Davis Advisors, sees opportunities in financials. Investors are, of course, still feeling the financial crisis burn when it comes to investing in financial stocks. But financials are looking as compelling as they did in 1991, Davis tells Barron's. Top picks? Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Markel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: Uguran Betin</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Al Gore’s 'sustainable' generation investment beats most hedge funds
Hedge Funds
<p>Former Democratic vice president and almost-president Al Gore is known as a visionary and a thinker on a grand scale. Gore has remained politically and socially active since the turn of the century, and has spent his time writing several books and championing important environmental issues.<br /> Although not a lot of people are aware, Gore has also been focused on making money since he retired from politics. He and several colleagues founded a firm called Generation Investment Management a little over a decade ago. The asset management firm is focused on, and limits its investments to, businesses that operate on the principles of environmental sustainability.<br /> Gore and his colleagues at Generation describe their goal as the demonstration of a new version of capitalism that will create incentives for financial and business operations to reduce the environmental, social and political damage caused by unsustainable capitalistic excesses. In practical terms, Gore and his Generation partners have made more money using an environmentally conscious model of “sustainable” investing than most fund managers who were seeking profits at almost any environmental or social price.<br /> Keep in mind that this is just the track record of one firm, which has managed assets of relatively modest size for just over a decade. Generation has an AUM of close to $12 billion as of early October, with pension funds and other institutional investors the largest sources of capital, around half based in the U.S and half overseas.<br /> The MSCI World Index reports an overall average growth rate of 7% over the last 12 months. Based on data from Mercer, a UK analytics firm, the average pre-fee return for the global-equity managers it surveys was 7.7%. This meant that after fees (averaging about 70 basis points), the returns brought in by the average professional money manager barely kept up with low-cost passive index funds.<br /> However, Mercer’s data shows that the average return for Generation’s global-equity fund was 12.1 percent a year, which is more than 5% greater than the MSCI index’s growth rate. Among the over200 global-equity managers in Mercer’s survey, Generation’s 10-year average ranked as second.</p> <p>Gore is not shy about discussing his firm’s success. “I wanted us to start talking when the five-year returns were in, but cooler heads persuaded me that we should wait until now,” he noted</p> <p>The Generation team is not, however, bragging to try and drum up new business. Gore and the Generation team are rather aiming at a relatively small audience within the financial world that controls the flow of capital, and at the politicians that set the rules for the financial system. “It turns out that in capitalism, the people with the real influence are the ones with capital!,” Gore said in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this year. They hope that Generation’s success will bring attention to the fact that they can make more money if they change their practices to largely avoid the environmental and social damage modern capitalism can do.</p> <p>This article was originally published by </p>
Career Insights: Shaped by the financial crisis, millennial bond manager readies for rate hike
Asset Management
Andrew Szczurowski is the new breed of bond manager: For the bulk of his career, interest rates have hovered near zero. Szczurowski is one of many millennials who came charging onto Wall Street just as the markets crested, joining Eaton Vance in 2007 after two years at BNY Mellon.  Mortgages, of course, were ground zero for the crisis. Szczurowski, who
What we're reading: fantasy falters but reality inspires hope
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>A warning for bubble investors, a disgruntled banker, a cure for ISIS, a list to reflect on and a happy tale of human resilience.</p> <p>The fantastic rise and fall of daily fantasy sports: A salutary lesson for venture capitalists as the FBI and US Justice Department investigate the business models of FanDuel and DraftKings. A relentless pursuit of customers with the promise of huge prizes, all funded by investors frightened about being left behind. The Wall Street Journal</p> <p>Another banker in court, but this one thinks he was screwed. A Dutch derivatives trader tells a British employment tribunal that he was fired so his boss could take the credit for his idea to save Barclays £51.5 million and boost his own bonus. Who would’ve thought that such machinations take place in the City? The Daily Telegraph</p> <p>Blocking financing to ISIS. Efforts to train and equip anti-Islamic State fighters have failed, so the U.S. and the West need to focus on choking financial support for ISIS. Nothing else has worked and besides, military action has been mired in confused objectives and has fuelled the misery for Syrians. Funding could well be ISIS’s Achilles Heel. The New York Times</p> <p>10 things you can’t live without. Okay, unlike the author my life would not be impaired by the absence of polka dots or red lipstick, but the list gives pause for thought. Even better, try to compile your top-ten without including anything techy. The Huffington Post</p> <p>Young Spanish entrepreneurs show creativity and initiative. Despite economic crisis and massive unemployment, the youth of Andalucía are combining new technology with old traditions to make their way. Time for the tourists to return and enjoy the beaches while gorging on locally produced food. The Spectator<br /> Photo: Hartwig HKD</p>
Opportunities for Asia's private bankers
Asset Management
<p>Asia’s wealth management scene is competitive, fluid and expensive. Cost-to-income ratios in Hong Kong are more than 70%, almost double the proportion in Western Europe, as blue chip private banks fish for talent in a small pool of relationship managers with networks among China’s new rich.</p> <p>The bait is a big salary and juicy benefits; the reward for the banks are connections to the world’s fastest growing market of high net worth individuals, according to the latest Capgemini and RBC Wealth Report 2015.</p> <p>However, single- and multi-family offices are gaining traction within Asia, undermining the strategies of the leading banks who argue that scalability is essential to survive. Experienced staff see an opportunity to use their contacts to set up on their own or join a niche, more focussed firm with a realistic expectation of even higher compensation as well as greater independence.</p> <p>Kenneth Ho, the former head of Julius Baer’s investment solutions group in Asia Pacific is the latest high profile banker to make the move. At the beginning of this month, he joined US-based Carret Asset Management where he is tasked to set up an Asian multi-family office, reports AsianInvestor.</p> <p>He is looking to buy independent asset managers in Hong Kong and Singapore, and might also form a private equity fund.</p> <p>In September, another private banking veteran, Stephen Repkow quit Union Bancaire Privée to launch an independent platform in Singapore that will serve both as an external asset manager and a multi-family office.</p> <p>If more bankers strike out for independence then, of course, the talent pool for the big wealth managers will become even shallower. They will have to offer larger salaries and bonuses which will push the cost-to-income ratio higher so that eventually head office must wonder: why bother?<br /> Photo: Mart</p>
China's taste for red
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Everyone knows that a Parisian instinctively reaches for a bottle of Merlot to quench his thirst and that French babies are weaned on the juice. But, astonishingly France is no longer the biggest consumer of red wine.</p> <p>Last year, the Chinese overtook the French, guzzling almost 1.9 billion bottles of plonk and are now set to become the world’s leading winemakers, according to The Little Red Book published by Week in China.</p> <p>“Xi Jinping’s campaign against free-spending officials has hit China’s fine wine salesmen hard, with purchases of expensive bottles all but drying up. But there’s a silver lining to the slowdown as millions more consumers choose to drink more affordable wine for the first time,” say the authors.</p> <p>The boom in the best vintages is apparently subsiding, and the industry is now excited by the start of a new era for wine in China as drinkers opt for cheaper – and no doubt more hangover-inducing - brands.</p> <p>And China’s much reported anxiety about food security and farmland scarcity seems to subside after a couple of glasses.</p> <p>The Chinese have more than doubled the amount land devoted to the vine during the past 15 years and claim to have almost 11% of the global grape area, according to the International Organization of Vine and Wine.</p> <p>But, like China’s GDP figures, these numbers are a bit misleading. A large portion of the country’s new vineyards hasn’t reached production and much of the harvest in the short-term is likely to end up as table grapes and raisins.</p> <p>So that’s good news for international wine firms. Ganbei.<br /> Photo: F Delventhal</p>
Weekend Scan: Risk on pushes major bourses higher; Europe's refugee crisis worsens
Capital Markets
<p>October 17, 2015</p> <p>Good day.</p> <p>Major world stock markets enjoyed strong gains throughout the week, closing at two-month highs on Friday. Investors absorbed a raft of quarterly earnings announcements in the US which in the end contained few negative surprises. Earlier caution gave way to confidence, boosting share prices on most global bourses.</p> <p>China A-shares were the stellar performer, surging more than 6% during the week on hopes of further stimulus measures. The same expectation in Japan too pushed the Nikkei 225 index over 3% higher.</p> <p>For a change, traders also turned their attention away from speculation about US interest rates and instead were encouraged by hints from European Central Bank (ECB) officials that they would inject more liquidity into a still moribund European economy.</p> <p>The prospect of further ECB quantitative easing provided support for the US dollar against both the euro and the yen. Meanwhile, oil prices staged a rally as traders covered short positions</p> <p>Stocks in major world markets rose to a two-month high on Friday and the dollar ticked up, boosted by views that the European Central Bank may provide more stimulus to the euro zone economy.</p> <p>Here’s what else is happening in the world:</p> <p>Hungary closes its border with Croatia to stem migrant flow. Europe’s refugee crisis continues with Hungary erecting razor wire fences against the tide of hapless people escaping from worn-torn Syria and Iraq. Hungary has been the gateway to their transit to Germany and Austria, and Croatia says it will now direct them to Slovenia instead. BBC </p> <p>Palestinian-Israeli fighting ignites again. After weeks of  fighting between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers that has claimed several lives, a group of Palestinians set fire last night to a compound housing Joseph's Tomb, a Jewish religious site in the West Bank. Both Palestinian and Israeli authorities condemned the act.</p> <p>UN corruption scandal. A US judge set bail at $50 million for Ng Lap Seng, a Macau property tycoon, accused of orchestrating an alleged bribery scheme involving United Nations officials. Prosecutors want to keep him in jail and are considering an appeal because they consider him a flight risk. WSJ (paywall)</p> <p>Europe and Russia plan trip to assess settlement on the Moon. European and Russian space agencies intend to send a robotic lander to the Moon's South Pole to determine the feasibility of permanent settlement. It is not a sci-fi fantasy. Luna 27 will embark in five years’ time and the project’s scientists are confident that in future this largely unexplored area will be an outpost of human civilisation. BBC </p> <p>Barclays plans further investment banking job cuts. The new chief of the UK lender Jes Staley plans to speed up reductions in staff levels in its troubled investment banking business and focus on its “core markets”. Does that mean more branches on UK high streets or simply slashing the wage bill? Financial Times (paywall)</p> <p>Goldman Sachs fires cheating analysts. About 20 analysts have been fired from Goldman's New York and London offices for cheating on internal tests. The tests are firm specific, and not regula</p>
ETF industry needs major reform: SEC’s Aguilar
Asset Management
<p>It looks like the ETF industry is under the gun. Securities and Exchange Commission officials held a meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, and began to lay out the case for reform in the ETF industry. In specific, SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar outlined the kind of questions they’re asking in their inquiry regarding the rapidly-growing exchange-traded funds market.</p> <p>Questions about the ETF industry began to emerge after August 24th, an extremely volatile trading day and he worst session for U.S. stocks in four years. August 24th witnessed multiple halts in both stocks and ETFs, stoppages that short-circuited the arbitrage mechanism of ETFs and led to ETF prices plunging well below the indexes they’re designed to track for a short period of time. The major glitch in the system was a painful lesson for investors and has brought regulators attention to a number of problems with overlapping market rules implemented following the 2010 “flash crash”.</p> <p>Statement from SEC Commissioner Aguilar about ETFs<br /> Commissioner Aguilar did not beat around the bush in his speech at the SEC committee meeting. He made his agenda clear in his introduction: “Why ETFs proved so fragile that morning raises many questions, and suggests that it may be time to reexamine the entire ETF ecosystem.”</p> <p>In his remarks, Aguilar raised four general questions about the events of August 24th.</p> <p>1) Should ETFs have industry-specific volatility curbs? Do so-called limit up/limit down volatility bands need to be updated? Should market-wide circuit breakers factor in the number of securities that are currently halted?</p> <p>2) Should rules for “clearly erroneous” trades be reformed?</p> <p>3) What roles should exchanges have in ETF trading?<br /> 4) How can market makers be more incentivized to stay in the market during times of extreme volatility?</p> <p>Democratic SEC Commissioner Aguilar also went on to argue that the commission needed to ask bigger, even existential questions about the ETF industry and its very rapid growth, including the issue of whether the growth needed to be curtailed. Here, he outlined four general areas for consideration:</p> <p> How does the growth of ETFs and their gradual movement into less liquid asset classes challenge the effectiveness of the ETF arbitrage and pricing mechanisms?<br /> Are sophisticated traders able to exploit inefficiencies in the pricing mechanisms of less liquid ETFs and exploit retail investors?<br /> Should alternative pricing methods for less-liquid ETFs, such as so-called NAV-based trading, where ETFs are traded at a specific premium or discount to the ETF’s net asset value, be allowed?<br /> Should the growth of ETFs be limited to protect investors and the entir</p>