December 2020 | 

Advice for Investment Professionals: Invest in Yourself

Advice for Investment Professionals: Invest in Yourself

Even as seismic changes continue to upend financial markets, causing record sell-offs and rebounds, there’s some good news for investment advisors. The demand for and reliance on professional advice has greatly increased since March of 2020, meaning for many, business has never been better. Plus, there have never been more, and more easily accessible, sources of information about emerging trends, specific asset classes, economic forecasts, and changing tax laws.

But within that good news is some potentially alarming news: A recent survey of financial advisors from around the world found that about half are using social media to research investment products and services. While many trusted authorities have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, business podcasts, and other platforms, so do sources that are less reliable, along with those who have financial incentives for providing information.

Wharton finance professor Nikolai Roussanov acknowledges the plethora of content available, some reputably produced by world-class investment firms, but says there is a need for “unbiased opinions and insights from people who have been looking at the data for their entire careers, analyzing the history of the financial markets in the macro economy from the standpoint of different models and theories.”

To meet that need, Roussanov has assembled Wharton faculty and distinguished speakers — many of the world’s most esteemed finance and economic experts — in Wharton on the Markets. This series of hour-long, interactive online sessions provides the latest research on and practical knowledge of investment sectors, approaches, and trends. Roussanov says the program, held live each Monday for 12 weeks, “offers perspectives on what drives markets, what drives the macro economy, and how we can position ourselves for the future, both in the near term and also in the long term.”

The sessions explore subjects such as factor investing, real estate, government debt, and an overview of COVID’s impact on major asset classes. Roussanov says they were designed for those “supervising an investment portfolio who want an unbiased view of what the future might bode for them.” That includes high-net-worth individuals and their wealth advisors, multifamily offices, retirement advisors, financial planners advising people on what to do with their portfolios going forward, and consultants overseeing pension plans.

A highlight of the program is “fireside chats” between Roussanov and Mohamed El-Erian and Jeremy Siegel, two of the world’s foremost — and outspoken — finance experts. El-Erian is president of Queen’s College, Cambridge University; chief economic advisor at Allianz; and a senior global fellow at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at the Wharton School. His often-skeptical insights on markets, global affairs, and business are must-reads for finance professionals around the world.

Jeremy Siegel, one of Wharton’s most renowned, and recognizable, professors and senior investment strategy advisor at WisdomTree Asset Management, has a similar global reach. He shares his famously bullish perspective — recently predicting a Wall Street boom in 2021 “no matter who is president” — through news commentary, in best-selling books, and in his standing-room-only MBA classes.

Joao Gomes, chairperson of the Wharton Finance Department, says bringing world-class expertise to investment professionals as they navigate unprecedented levels of uncertainty, helping them to invest in themselves, is a responsibility. “There are very few silver linings about this crisis, but perhaps for educators and researchers like us, one of them is that we now have the opportunity and the technology to disseminate exciting new research ideas much more quickly into a much larger audience.”