TTF Switzerland Ambassadors

Guy Spier,

CEO,

Aquamarine Capital

 

I run the Aquamarine Fund which is an investment partnership closely modelled on the original Buffett Partnerships, investing primarily in equities. In 2014 I published a book titled, "The Education of a Value Investor" which has sold more than 50,000 copies in English and has been translated into German, Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Polish and Vietnamese amongst other languages. Investors in my fund include friends and family, high net worth individuals, their family offices, private banks investing on behalf of their clients and even some institutional investors and pension funds. One of my best learning experiences to date was my $650,000 lunch with Warren Buffett, on which Mohnish Pabrai and I successfully bid and won in 2007.Investors and business leaders that I admire include my father, Seth Klarman, Joel Greenblatt, Li Lu, John Mihaljevic, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Edward Shackleton, Marcus Aurelius, Anthony Robbins, Don Keough, Charlie Munger. My Investment process includes the using checklists - as was written up in Atul Gawande's book, "The Checklist Manifesto".


Education


I did an MBA at Harvard Business School (class of 1993). I did my undergraduate degree at Brasenose College, Oxford in PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) where I did some tutorials with David Cameron. I graduated in 1988 with a First-Class Degree and the George Webb Medley Prize for the top performance in Economics. I serve on the boards of UN Watch, and of Swiss Friends of Oxford University. I also serve on the advisory boards of Horasis and World Minds. In the past, I served on the Alumni Board of the Harvard Business School, the Dakshana Foundation and Weizmann Science and Business Club . I have been a TEDx co-Host in Tel Aviv and in Zurich with Maya Elhalal - Levavi, Peter Hogenkamp and Tim Duhrkoop and Hugo Schotman.
For more on me, go to http://www.aquamarinefund.com or to http://www.guyspier.com


My Experience:


Aquamarine Capital, CEO, February 1995 – Present. I manage the investments of the Aquamarine Fund, an investment partnership closely modelled on the original Buffett Partnerships. Investors include high net worth individuals, entrepreneurs, institutions and family offices. 
TEDxZuriberg, Co-Host, June 2018 – Present, Zürich Area, Switzerland. 


Swiss Friends of Oxford University, Member Board Of Directors, January 2018 – Present, Zürich Area, Switzerland. 


ZURICH.MINDS Foundation, Advisory Board Member, December 2012 – Present, Zürich Area, Switzerland. ZURICH.MINDS is a non-profit foundation set up in 2008 by Rolf Dobelli. The goal of the ZURICH.MINDS Foundation is "to create a bridge between the science, business and cultural communities". Its annual meeting has received some coverage in local media, such as the Switzerland edition of The Wall Street Journal, Swiss national television amongst others, members include Nobel prize laureate Kurt Wuthrich, former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, philosopher John N. Gray of the London School of Economics, director at the Max Planck Institute Gerd Gigerenzer, writer and politician Matt Ridley, economist Paul Romer, neuroeconomist Ernst Fehr, and experimental psychologist Roy Baumeister. 

 

Harvard Business School, Alumni Board Member, October 2012 - June 2015 (2 years 9 months). The HBS Alumni Board works to advance the interests of alumni worldwide. Board members are selected from the pool of active alumni volunteers. The HBS Alumni Board is a group of approximately 50 alumni, comprising current and former club officers, class secretaries, Fund agents, reunion volunteers, and other active alumni from around the world. It provides an important link between HBS alumni and the School. The purposes of the Board are to: Communicate the interests and concerns of HBS alumni worldwide to the Dean, faculty, students, and staff of HBS Propose actions to enhance the well-being of HBS alumni. Encourage communication of the School's activities, priorities, and educational resources to alumni. This year, the Board is continuing to support clubs and associations, while also focusing on additional areas of current interest to the School and its alumni: enhancing alumni engagement, and improving volunteer interaction. 


Weizmann Science and Business Club, Co-Chair, June 2011 - May 2014 (3 years), Zurich. The purpose of the Weizmann Science and Business Club (WSBC) is to act as a conduit for support of the Weizmann Institute. The WSBC will support the activities the Swiss, European and other committees of friends of the Weizmann Institute. In addition to supporting the existing committees, the WSBC will seek out new, and younger supporters of the Weizmann Institute by: Bringing valuable scientists and members of the Weizmann Institute to events in Switzerland and in Europe together with WSBC members for learning and discussion. Facilitating and enabling networking between members of the WSBC amongst themselves and the broader Weizmann community. 


Horasis, Advisory Board Member, June 2010 - June 2013 (3 years 1 month), Zurich. Horasis: The Global Visions Community is an independent international organization committed to enacting visions for a sustainable future. Horasis is a visions community - together with our members we explore, define, and implement trajectories of sustainable growth. Horasis provides strategic foresight to public and private entities who envisage growing into global and sustainable organizations. Horasis hosts annual meetings to advance solutions to the most critical challenges facing corporations today. Participants jointly identify globally relevant business issues and develop sophisticated and interdisciplinary solutions. Participants then leverage these solutions to enhance corporate performance and long-term growth. Among the participants are the Chief Executive Officers of the world's most respected corporations as well as key business leaders from emerging markets. Also participating are renowned thought leaders and relevant public figures including heads of government and ministers. 


Oxford Alumni Association of New York, President, 2005 - 2007 (3 years), Ran the Oxford Alumni Association of New York with Amanda Pullinger.

 

European Commission, Stagaire, 1990 - 1991 (2 years), Cellule de Prospective / Forward Studies Unit. 

 

Braxton Associate, Research Associate, 1988 - 1990 (3 years)


Education


Harvard Business School, MBA · (September 1991 - June 1993)


Oxford University, BA, PPE - Politics, Philosophy & Economics · (September 1984 - June 1988)


Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Certificate, German studies · (1984 - 1985)

 

The Great Divide

You can read the speech by  Andrew G. Haldane, FAcSS (the Bank of England's Chief Economist and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics) that he gave on 18th May 2016 at the New City Agenda Annual dinner.

 

The speech is entitled The Great Divide and it is a first class explanation of why the trust deficit really matters and why it makes sense to try to do something about it.

 

Please click on the green button to access it; if you're not convinced of its relevance to our initiative, here's part of it:

 

..."The most important and compelling message the Bank received at the Open Forum came in the first session. The Bank had conducted some polling of perceptions of the financial sector – for example, by asking people what one word best described the future of financial markets. Among the Bank’s usual contacts, including those in the financial sector, the most used word was “regulated”. Many of us will have heard that message from financial insiders concerned about the perils of over-zealous regulators.

 

For me, the more revealing responses came from the general public, from the customers, rather than the producers, of financial services. The word most used by them when describing financial markets was a rather different one: it was “corrupt”. Not far behind were words like “manipulated”, “self-serving”, “destructive” and “greedy”. I am sure many of you have heard those messages too. They are certainly ones I have encountered frequently on my visits around the country."...

 

Please click the green button  below to access the full speech. If you need to read another piece first, here it is:

 

..."At least until recently many economists like me, when faced with this evidence, might have shrugged our shoulders. Social capital had no real role in our models of economic growth, unlike physical capital and human capital. Trust did not butter our parsnips and nor did it enter our production functions.

 

Recently, however, that orthodoxy has changed and the importance of trust has become clearer.

 

Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity. 

 

At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.

 

Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.

 

Those social capital effects appear to be particularly potent when it comes to financial decisions. Evidence suggests that a lack of trust leads people to retreat from the stock market and banks and to move towards cash holdings and informal sources of credit, such as payday lenders and loan sharks. That jeopardises the second key benefit of finance to society – improved risk-sharing by households and companies.

 

So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.

 

That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.

 

The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being."...

 

Please click on the green button to access the full speech. If you're not yet convinced you should, here's a final snippet:

 

..." As a survey in 2013 of financial professionals found, rather remarkably, that over half believed their competitors engaged in illegal or unethical behaviour.  A smaller, but still high, fraction of 24% believed their own company engaged in such practices. Similar percentages believed their industry did not fulfil its fiduciary function of putting clients’ interests first.

The significance of these findings is not the precise percentages, as striking as these are.

 

More fundamentally, it is because of what they reveal about finance’s perception of itself, the mirror it holds to the social identity of finance."...

 

Click onto the button below to access the full speech; you'll be glad you did, it's profoundly thought-provoking for anybody interested in the future of the financial services industry:

If you are not already on the right page and want to read about our major international project to help rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services, click on the orange button below:

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