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Asset Management Conference Chairs, Sarah Burrows, MIFFT 2018, and Shreeji Parekh, MBA 2019

LBS’s 10th annual Asset Management Conference 2018 takes place on Thursday 26 April at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) Financial Centre, London. We discuss the event with Sarah Burrows, MIFFT 2018, and Shreeji Parek, MBA 2019.

For those that don’t know, could you give a brief overview of this year’s Asset Management Conference and what it’s about?

The Asset Management Conference (AMC) is the flagship annual conference for LBS’s Investment Management Club (IMC). The conference is a day-long event featuring panel discussions and keynote presentations from prominent policy makers, industry leaders, academics and researchers. We are especially excited for this year’s AMC as it is the 10th anniversary. Our theme is Hidden Risks and Excessive Rewards. We have an amazing speaker line-up which includes Andrew Bailey (CEO, Financial Conduct Authority), Alex Brazier (Executive Director for Financial Stability Strategy and Risk, Bank of England), Catherine Howarth (Chief Executive, ShareAction), Tom Gosling (Partner, PWC) and many more.

What goes into planning an event like this?

Planning starts eight months prior to the conference, starting with ideating the theme and the keynote speakers, figuring out the date, deciding on the budget and sourcing the venue. Work streams involving speaker and sponsorship origination run continuously on a weekly basis. Marketing usually starts around November with roll-out of a ‘save-the-date’ mailer to campus community, alumni, IMC relationships and, of course, City Investment Management professionals. We market our event through various investment associations across the City via their newsletters, member outreach and ticket counters etc. Operations engagement starts closer to the event in March and this segment has multiple processes like panel composition, attendance monitoring, website set-up and anything that helps conceptualise and impacts the flow of events. We are a team of 10 from different programmes, nationalities and professional backgrounds. We also have been very lucky to get support from the AQR Institute at LBS (big shout out to Vijaya Govindan), faculty, student-led initiatives team and BAML, which is the chief sponsor and the venue provider.

Hidden Risks and Excessive Rewards is an intriguing concept – how did you think of it?

Our faculty advisor, Robert Jenkins, pushed for the idea that the 10th annual conference should address broad themes that affect the industry at large, and risks and rewards are subjects that come up continuously in asset management.

We break down each of the two topics into a series of mini questions that we aim to answer throughout the day of the conference.

What risks are investor ignoring? Is risk defined correctly? What can we learn from history? And what risks concern policymakers the most? What are the trends in asset manager pay and are current levels sustainable? What are the views of asset owners and regulators on fees? And what should be the role of the money manager in reining in executive pay?

The theme is poetic in a way, because financial performance at the end of the day is always a function of the risk and reward!

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to overcome so far?

It would be balancing this C (Conference) with other Cs of School: Clubs, Coursework, Careers, Conversations, Campus activities, Contacts, Cruises (Treks!) and on and on. On a serious note, given that this is 10th year and this conference is mainly targeted towards investment professionals, it has been challenging to ensure that every aspect of it lives up to its name and is memorable like other years for our attendees. Fingers crossed!

Which parts of the programme  day are you personally looking forward to?

All of it! The discussions and debates, networking and engagement, learnings and insights… We have been working hard for months and it would be so wonderful to see our little details and big plans actualised. We really hope our attendees have a pleasant experience as much as we have enjoyed working on it.