EHL becomes a new focal point for finance

Private markets

Unlisted investment products are on the rise. The amount of fund managers in private equity has almost doubled since the financial crisis in 2008. It is also a less abstract financial activity for a youth in search of meaning, with tangible added value. It means stimulating the real economy through investment, creating intellectual property, encouraging transparent governance, generating growth and employment. Value needs to be created at all levels, if only to get out of an investment and make a profit. It is also an activity with varied human dimensions. “Private equity is an activity largely dominated by human relations. It is a question of establishing a relationship built on trust to work together over time. This attracts talent, perhaps wearied by the statistical models of public equity and the dehumanizing dimensions of stock markets” explained Cyril Demaria, speaker at the conference and Head of Private Markets for Wellershoff Partners, a Zurich-based financial consulting firm. Although most participants agreed that the private markets were nearing the end of a particularly good cycle, there is still great potential for Switzerland, a country which still accounts for relatively few private equity funds for a colossal amount of assets under management by private banks.

Participants of choice

Pension funds, insurers, cantonal banks, Zurich and Geneva-based private banks, family offices, investment funds: everyone wants to be up-to-date and most of the main Swiss financial players responded to the invitation to the conference. For good reason: the outstanding speakers. Per Strömberg, an economist at Stockholm University and member of the Nobel committee, was mandated by the Norwegian sovereign fund (the second largest pension fund in the world) for an analysis of the opportunity to invest in Private Equity. He came to present the main conclusions of his report. “We have time to ask ourselves questions and think about them. It is a luxury that practitioners don’t have. It is important that we can meet, as we did at EHL, to create and maintain a bridge between business and academic research”, he underlined in an interview. His research, which served as a status report for the industry, was one of the topics discussed during the two days of the conference. Other high-quality interventions took place, with notably the participation of Tim Jenkinson and Ludovic Phalippou, both university professors at Oxford, reporting on the current and future state of private markets.

    The connexion with EHL

    The hotel business is changing, and so are the required skills. At EHL, faculty members engage in research like any other university, and finance is no exception. “Hotels are an illiquid asset par excellence which we know very well”, Emmanuel Jurczenko, director of the Hospitality Real Estate Finance Institute at EHL and initiator of the conference, recently said. However, not only the hotel industry needs finance, but also the financial sector that needs EHL graduates. During the conference, Cyril Demaria confided that “EHL graduates are different from the purely technical profiles with standardized courses. They have decisive interpersonal skills to interact with entrepreneurs from various social and industrial backgrounds. Knowing how to listen to them and adapt is important for negotiating, convincing and then collaborating with them”. This mix of business knowledge and human know-how is the reason for which, increasingly, EHL graduates are being offered positions in finance, but also in luxury, consulting and many other service activities.

    About the EHL Private Markets Research Conference

    For one of the co-organizers of the conference on private markets, Emmanuel Jurczenko, “this event is a forum to explore the latest advances in private market research combining academic and practitioner perspectives. Its ambition is to become in the next five years a leading European reference on private investments thanks to both the quality of the work presented and the diversity of actors represented”. Investing in private markets requires an in-depth knowledge of private equity, private debt and real assets (real estate and infrastructure). Although difficult, it is becoming more and more popular among institutional investors due to the low yield environment and the potential for diversification of private investments. Despite the absence of data sets for private markets, significant breakthroughs have recently been made in the research on understanding the performance and risk factors of private investment.

    Sherif Mamdouh
    External Communications Manager
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    About Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

    Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a
    pioneer in hospitality education since 1893. It has created and inspired a unique professional community
    of over 25,000 hospitality managers, united by the values and the legacy of EHL.

    EHL is a leading university that provides learning solutions for enthusiastic, talented and ambitious
    students from 119 different countries. With undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, EHL
    offers its students a range of on-campus and online education opportunities at different stages of their
    professional journey.

    EHL is regularly recognized as the best hotel management school in the world with the highest graduate
    employment rates in the industry. EHL is a member of EHL Holding SA, a Group dedicated to hospitality
    management education.

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