Conrad Holmboe

Articles from Conrad Holmboe

  • WHY PRIORITISE THE BASICS, WHEN YOU CAN FOCUS ON THE SEXY?

    Because sadly, prioritisation doesn’t always mean doing the easiest thing first…. or the sexiest. In their quest for performance, amateur cyclists, like a number of Trustees and CIOs, can sometimes focus their attention on the wrong things… in this respect, setting the right investment strategy is not dissimilar to cycling and gives rise to the same pitfalls. We love to focus on the “sexy” and forget about the basics. What’s Your Average Amateur Cyclist Got To Do With Investment Strategy? Take your average enthusiastic amateur cyclist. You ... ..read more
  • THE BALANCING ACT: REINVESTMENT RISK VS. ILLIQUIDITY RISK

    In a quest to reduce exposure to reinvestment risk are pension funds jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire by taking on more illiquidity risk, or is there a balance to be struck?   For many pension funds 2013 was a relatively good year. Developed market equities rallied (the S&P500 was up nearly 30%), credit spreads tightened and even real yields showed some improvements, albeit marginally so.   Those funds positioned to benefit from this would have seen their funding ratio rise, and for some, rise faster than anticipated by their flight plan. Those fortun ... ..read more
  • THE CURIOUS CASE OF TRADER JOE AND THE ANALYSIS PARALYSIS THAT STRUCK IN THE NIGHT

    The first time it struck me I was in the aisle of Trader Joe’s late one night, just off Sunset Boulevard in LA. I wandered in with the intention of purchasing cereal for the following day.   I normally consider this to be a simple task, and one that I’ve performed with panache for years. I stroll confidently towards the cereal aisle, swiftly scan for any of my favourite brands (one will always be there), make a quick judgement call and head towards the cashier brandishing my box of [Cheerio’s] - without so much as breaking my stride. My hunter-gatherer forbears wo ... ..read more
  • THE UK INFRASTRUCTURE QUANDARY - CONSTRUCTIONPHOBIA & INFRASTRUCTUREPHILIA (PART 1)

    Ever since George Osborne’s 2011 autumn address, UK infrastructure and how to fund it has been the plat du jour for Trustees and their advisors. A day doesn’t go by without some governmental entity reminding us all that the key to the UK’s, neigh the world’s, salvation is somehow intrinsically linked to getting institutional investors to provide the long term financing that banks can no longer provide. Easier said than done.   Leaving aside the notion that this is the answer to recovery, and dare I say, growth, for economists to fight over; infrastructure ... ..read more
  • ARE SOME OF TALEB’S ANTIFRAGILE IDEAS APPLICABLE WITHIN OUR PENSIONS SYSTEM?

    Had you walked through our office on any given day over the last couple of months you would have seen a copy of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile on someone’s desk. Love him or hate him, his writing certainly spurs debate. Taleb’s central thesis is startling, easy to grasp and delivered with the straight talking conviction of a man who eats his own cooking. He introduces his abstract theory by stating that we have no accurate antonym for the word fragile. Words such as strong or robust are only half-way houses. To truly be the opposit ... ..read more
  • VOLTE FACE OR THE "EURO-GO-ROUND"

    Some months ago I wrote a blog (see 'To Centrally Clear or Not?') in which I discussed the implications CRD4 might have on the way pension schemes trade OTC derivatives.   My conclusion at the time was that CRD4 would increase the cost of transacting OTC derivatives because CRD4 would force banks to hold more capital against non-cleared trades than cleared ones – and banks being “commercial” entities, would naturally pass this cost on to their counterparties (something which was later confirmed by the banks I spoke to about this mind numbing  fascinat ... ..read more
  • THE BEST LAID SCHEME O' MICE AN' MEN

    In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid [pension] scheme o’ mice an’ menGang aft agley [go often awry] And leave us nought but grief an’ pain,For promis’d joy!   Just when I thought I’d caught a glimpse into the future of Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives (see: To Centrally Clear or Not?), the European “Triumvirate” (i.e. Pompei Magnus: the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), Julius Caesar: the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and Marcus Crassus: the European Banking Authority (EBA)) de ... ..read more
  • Q: TO CENTRALLY CLEAR OR NOT?

    To centrally clear or not, that is the question:Whether ‘tis Nobler in the mind to pay Wider Bid / Offer spreads, Or to hold additional cash against a potential margin call,And by accepting them: to suffer a drag on the long term performance of your fund?  CRD4, and the Thousand capital implications for banksThat might be passed on to counterparties? Tis a potential increaseOn the cost of LDI! Ay, there’s the rub,For in that cost of capital, comes inefficiencyWhen you have paid the higher spread.  However, to grunt and sweat under a CCP’s variation margin ... ..read more

Conrad spent 6 years in China starting his career in corporate finance in Beijing where he advised foreign-owned companies on M&A, capital restructuring and financing. Conrad then moved to Shanghai to join DRG Investments’ team (now DRG CIN Energy) where he covered private sector growth companies.

Norwegian by blood, Conrad speaks French, Spanish and Mandarin and when he isn’t helping his clients achieve their objectives, spends most of his time backpacking around the world or training for Crossfit.