Workshop With Oana Trif: How Do I Identify the Right Investment for Institutional Clients?

Finance Manager analyzes stock market indicators for best investment strategy, financial data and charts with business buildings in background

What does an investment manager actually do and how do you find the right investment for an institutional client? Answers to these questions were given last Friday, March 19, 2021, in a guest lecture with integrated workshop on investment management. MBS Prof. Dr. Eva Stumpfegger had invited Oana Trif, Investment Manager at Allianz Investment Management SE, and MBS master’s student Roman Nafts, who is currently doing an internship there, as part of her Financial Management II course in the bachelor’s program International Business to introduce all interested MBS students deeper into the world of institutional investment management.

First, Roman Nafts described his experience from his internship at Allianz Investment Management. He gave insights into his daily work, where preparing reports and liquidity plans are important core tasks, and shared with his fellow students the most important requirements for such an internship. According to him, one should have a basic knowledge of finance and asset management, but soft skills such as the ability to work in a team and multitask, flexibility and proactivity, and an application-based understanding of Microsoft Excel are equally important.

Oana Trif Portrait

Oana Trif then took over and introduced the students to the complex science of investment management, drawing on 13 years of experience in asset management and investment management. Commenting on the genesis of her training, which she has been offering to new job starters and students for several years now, she said that during her early days at Allianz Investment Management, she was literally overwhelmed by the plethora of KPIs (key performance indicators), the conflicting interests and the stakeholders to consider when recommending an investment. After asking for guidance, she found her manager’s statement “All KPIs are important” not particularly helpful at the time. So after a few years, Oana Trif developed a workshop to help job starters and new interns make sense of the chaos and get a better feeling how to evaluate the different aspects of an investment decision.

Based on a real-life case study of an institutional client’s investment of €150 million cash in public equity in the U.S. market, Oana Trif worked with students to identify the most important KPIs – such as economic returns, accounting priorities, taxes, fees, liquidity, and ESG criteria – and translate the key metrics of the five different investment vehicles into an increasingly dense spreadsheet. In between, Oana dropped practical knowledge-bites, such as the tax rate on Bitcoin, how a portfolio manager’s quest for alpha in the US market is futile, and what advantages retail investors have over institution investors. At the end, students were asked to rank the different options with the help of three different markers (+, 0, -) and take a decision like a real investment manager. And see: All of the answers shared in the chat chose EFT investment and thus came to the right conclusion – seems like there are quite a few natural investment managers among MBS students!

At the end of the workshop, Oana Trif emphasized that when prioritizing KPIs and making decisions, they key is to keep the client’s needs in mind. As these can change over time, it is extremely important to know the client well, stay flexible and not lose sight of the big picture.