< The Finance Professionals' Post: April 2013

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8 posts from April 2013


A “Calculating” Tip for Level I and II Candidates

CFA Exam Prep

If you have cracked open an exam curriculum book (or clicked open the e-book version), then you are familiar with the structure of the curriculum. You know that topics are divided into study sessions, assigned readings accompany study sessions, and learning outcome statements – or LOSs – are developed for each reading. I’m not really telling you anything new here.

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Photonics: The Prospects of an “Old” High-Tech Market—Part II

In Part I of this article, I discussed cutting-edge research in nanophotonics from the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft in Holland, the University of California, Berkeley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In Part II, I review more practical achievements, which I have placed into two categories: Lab-to-Fab, for research in need of commercialization, and Prêt-à-Porter, for currently available commercial products. I have chosen most of the technologies and devices from among Laser Focus World magazine’s list of the top 20 photonics innovations of 2012 (Wallace 2012), and from the highlights of the SPIE Photonics West 2013 conference in San Francisco. Despite the diversity of the technologies, they can be further classified according to three recurring themes: multispectral and broadband applications; terahertz technologies; and green, bio-optical, and acoustic engineering. 

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The Global Access to Nutrition Index

The global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI)—launched in March 2013—is a groundbreaking initiative designed to address two of the world’s most pressing public health challenges: obesity and undernutrition. As such, they pose a set of risks and opportunities to food and beverage manufacturers. The ATNI Global Index benchmarks 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers’ performance on addressing obesity and undernutrition, highlighting how well positioned these companies are commercially to respond to these challenges. Recognizing the relevance of nutrition issues to this sector, 40 investment organizations from around the world, that collectively manage more than USD$2.6 trillion in assets, have signed up to ATNI’s Investor Statement.

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Photonics: The Prospects of an “Old” High-Tech Market—Part I

In 2010, I reviewed six companies recognized by The Wall Street Journal in its Technology Innovation Awards (see Totty 2010 for awards and Lerner 2010 for review).

Most of these companies were in the field of optics and photonics. Since then, I have rarely touched domestic equity markets, but it is time to return to them. The defense sector is the largest consumer of electro-optic devices, and with significant cuts to the US defense budget looming in 2013, investors would be wise to look at alternative applications of photonic technology.

This time, again to avoid personal bias, I have chosen technologies from Laser Focus World magazine’s list of the top 20 photonics innovations of 2012 (Wallace 2012). I have had to omit some developments from my review due to my inability to understand the underlying technologies and the magazine’s inclusion of purely manufacturing-related advances that hold little new technological content. Laser Focus World’s list is divided into four sections: Looking around Corners, Controlling Light, Sensing Redefined, and the Photonics Toolbox (the last section deals mainly with manufacturing techniques). I have used a different classification: Cutting Edge, Lab to Fab, and Prêt-à-Porter.

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Ten Routes into Banking Jobs When You’ve Failed the First Time


A lot of university students still want to be investment bankers despite the degree of banking bashing around the world. But with banks retrenching from student hiring, not many of them make it. According to High Fliers Research, there were 82 applications per investment banking job in the UK last year.  So, what do you do if you’ve applied for an entry level position in an investment bank after a university course and haven’t got in?

Here are the ten best options:

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Leaders (Desperately) Wanted: Bad Bosses Need Not Apply

People today don't trust banks, Wall Street, or government. We need men and women with the leadership skills necessary to fill the leadership vacuum of our times. 

Many bosses think they're leaders. But they're wrong. They're merely bad bosses.

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Recent Research: Highlights from April 2013

"A Fund of Hedge Funds Under Regime Switching"
The Journal of Alternative Investments (Spring 2013)
David Saunders, Luis Seco, Christofer Vogt, and Rudi Zagst

This article investigates the use of a regime-switching model of returns for the asset allocation decision of a fund of hedge funds. In each time period, returns follow a multi-variate normal distribution from one of two possible regimes, corresponding to periods of “normal” and “distressed” markets. The prevailing regime in any given period is determined by the value of a two-state Markov chain. The case where serial correlation is absent and returns in different time periods are i.i.d. Gaussian mixture variables is also considered. The models are tested on empirical data and compared to a benchmark, assuming i.i.d. normally distributed returns. The results show that in a mean–variance framework, the use of regime switching can improve risk and performance measures. The importance of the sensitivity of optimal portfolio weights to the estimate of the probability of the distressed regime is discussed, and methods for calculating sensitivities are presented and illustrated on market data.

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Book Review: Hungry Start-Up Strategy


Entrepreneurship has become an increasingly recognized career path. Many business schools now offer courses on entrepreneurship, and have become business start-up networks. College students have created successful businesses. College graduates have gone the start-up route, instead of working for an existing organization. Business executives and academics have chosen the start-up route as a new career path. In the financial services industry, the consolidation and constant layoffs have prompted some to explore starting a business.

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