Jim Aiello, Bruce Mcguire, Simon Carkeek, Peter Tesei Exclusive Interview with Matt Bird at Greenwich Economic Forum
Jim Aiello, Bruce McGuire, Simon Carkeek, and Peter Tesei exclusive interview with Matt Bird at Greenwich Economic Forum (Greenwich, CT).
- Greenwich is the hedge fund capital of the world
- FT Live produces over 150 different events globally every year
- Global wealth grew during the past year by 2.6% to $360 trillion
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Jim Aiello, Co-Founder of Greenwich Economic Forum, Bruce McGuire, Co-Founder of Greenwich Economic Forum, Peter Tesei, First Selectman of Town of Greenwich, Simon Carkeek, Head of Commercial for FT Live with Matt Bird
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:00
Gentlemen. Thanks for taking the time. This is your second annual event, the Greenwich Economic Forum in conjunction with the Financial Times. I think it’s safe to say this was epic in its simplicity and scope. Some of the most sophisticated content I think any of us have seen very long time short of the World Economic Forum itself. Some people were pointing this mini WEF. Everybody here has had a major part development of it. And let’s talk about some of the highlights and some of the fun parts, some of the ups and downs. Peter, you’re the longest standing mayor in Greenwich, Connecticut. You’re part of the inception of this from the approval process and the development side. When these guys came to you with the idea, what were your initial thoughts?
Peter Tesei – First Selectman, Town of Greenwich: 00:49
Thought it was a brilliant idea. I think it showed an entrepreneurial spirit to want to harness the talent that exists in our area and showcase it. And both Bruce and Jim really put a tremendous amount of energy into conceptualizing it. And jointly we were able to convince Mr. Dalio to get behind it and I think it just blossomed from there. So it’s a signature event that I really think puts Greenwich on a global stage and reinforces Greenwich as a brand, as a community, as a lifestyle, and will certainly read dividends for the town in years to come.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 01:47
I’ll add into it. We have to actually give credit to Bruce Mcguire. Bruce is the head of the Connecticut hedge fund association and did a similar event to this. Very similar at a different venue and also in Greenwich back before the crash, back in 2007. He did it a couple of times and they were quite successful for various reasons, they stopped. He said, we should think about doing an even in a more significant way with some of the real founding sort of thought leaders in the alternative space. And of course, we immediately thought of Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones and others, and we said, but we’re going to need to engage them. And who better to do that then Peter, who knows Ray fairly well but it was your suggestion in one of our meetings.
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 02:38
Yes. And I would add to that that one of the elements that was missing in the first edition of this event, which is now the Greenwich Economic Forum, was the close connection to the town itself. So the town really wasn’t engaged in the first project and we knew that that was something that needed to happen if this was really going to take off. And so proposing this idea to and having Peter and Jim be receptive to the concept and really buy into it and really put, you know, a lot of gravitas behind it made all the difference.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:06
You know, this event, I’m kind of curious about when you guys first came up with the idea and you put your heads together and think that we can do this. What sparked that idea? I mean, what was the glue that started to form the event before it even got here?
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 03:18
Greenwich, Connecticut is known as the hedge fund capital of the world. Right. So, we knew we had all this talent living amongst us and then close by in New York City. And we also know that a lot of us get on jets and we fly off the places like Davos, Switzerland, we fly to Miami, Florida, or out to Las Vegas for conferences. And we thought if they can do it, we can do it here. And in fact we could save ourselves a lot of travel.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:48
Right. So year 1, what happened you got through it, year two decided to partner Simon from the Financial Times. What was the difference between year one and two?
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 04:06
There was a stark difference of this one being considerably better than the previous experience. And, and I would say at the highest level who is, we really wanted to professionalize the entire process. And the FT assignment had said earlier, 200 events a year. And, and the quality standard is exceptional. We also wanted somebody that, we’re running a global conference and we have just by for various reasons, great connections to China. We don’t have that greater connections outside of China, especially in the Europe. The FT brings a whole European perspective, not only with people that we can bring on stage for speakers and so forth, but even just the moderators. And they were very generous and bringing people like Gillian Tett and Billy Nauman and Hannah for the healthcare panel. And we had some just it, just the level of the quality and the experience that the FT offers is really exceptional.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 05:06
So you were tasked to step it up this year.
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 05:06
Yeah. so I’m just a bit of background about how it all came about. So Bruce contacted me. It would have been about 18 months ago for the first time, right. Through our hedge fund correspondent Lindsey, and we were chatting, but even before the event happened last year and I was getting quite excited about the potential you know, even last year I could see what they’d managed to achieve in terms of the level of speakers and the focus of the event. And it seemed very active. It seemed like it was the kind of event that we could really get behind. So once the event was over, I think I shot you an email and said, I hope the event went well. And then that of got things going. And you know, over the next couple of months we came to an agreement about how we could work together. And since sort of January, February of this year, you know, been working tirelessly to make this event the success that it has ultimately been. And you know, all credit to Jim and Bruce they could have done this without us. But I do feel like we have added a certain element that maybe they didn’t have last year. I don’t want to take anything away from their hard work because you know, they’ve done the bulk of the work around the agenda and the amazing speaker roster. But what we, you know, bring is as Jim alluded to some of the expertise from our journalists and also the kind of event management skills that we have because of all the events that we do globally.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 06:57
It’s a very entrepreneurial thing to run these events and it takes a wide variety of skillsets and talents and expertise. And that’s where you guys have had and doing the 200 conferences a year. And you know, let’s say between Peter and Bruce and I, you know, we have lots of different ideas, but how to actually put those into fruition, you know, how you actually execute those, they’re just ideas and you’ve helped us actually execute those. And I think it’s been very collaborative. I’m sure we drove you crazy more than, more than once or twice.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 07:42
What gave you the most brain damage in the process?
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 07:57
Spreadsheets. So there’s lists of speakers, there’s lists of sponsors, there’s lists of attendees, there are lists of things that need to be done. There are lists of people that are invited to this particular event, but not to this event. There are lists of people that we want to invite as guests to the event and list of people that we want to go out to for paying tickets and managing all of that is a challenge. But you know, that’s what we do.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 08:31
I think part and parcel with that was we were trying to, we were trying to create an ecosystem of LPs, you know, funds, sorry, LPs, the investors and GPS, the funds. And it’s not so hard. I mean, it’s hard, but it’s not so hard to get the funds here, the GPS here, the hedge funds and private equity firm, venture capital, because they’re here, right? A lot of them are here and then they’re magnets around the world. But to get the LPs or the asset owners, the pensions and endowments and foundations and sovereign wealth funds, they’re all over the world and they’re not concentrated here. We actually created a committee headed by Jay Madia whose name I can’t say enough because he did such an amazing job loser, who’s the head of risk assets and Axis Capital. And he’s, he’s devoted, you know, tremendous amount of time. And he’s a peer. He’s an LP himself. He’s an insurance investor. And so he basically called his network and his networks networks and said, look, this is a special event. Let me give you an opportunity to tell you why. And he helped us basically double the number of LPs this year. There’s incredible, but we have Stanford’s around AUM size and are they allocating to this industry actively. And so we had to turn away a number of people that really didn’t weren’t allocating or were small.
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 09:18
And so that was a process that applied to come as an LP. And some of the people that probably weren’t LPs at all, or if they were, some of them were identifying the potential world and then reviewing that was a lot of brain-dump to go.
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 10:13
And I would add to that and on a different note, it’s selling for me. I don’t think we’re natural salespeople. We are great at building and we’re great at branding and marketing, but I think we’re realizing this process that sales is also a vital part of building an event like this or an entity like this. That was the most challenging thing, you know, from my perspective. And at some point I think you, you feel like I’ve done my job, I’ve put the best content that I could think to put up here on stage. This should sell itself. I think the reality is that, you’ve got to tee it up the right way.
Peter Tesei – First Selectman, Town of Greenwich: 10:56
Frankly, it was an easy endeavor because I think if there were there any challenge that presented itself is that there were so many people who wanted to participate or a 10, but not recognizing the economies are putting on such an event and that you need to have a sponsorship for entry to partake because of the risk associated with hosting something like this. So the overall ease though of promoting it was, it was a breeze because it drew so much attention. So much interest.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 11:31
You had all the intellectual property in the town. Greenwich is a very unique place. I don’t know many other cities that could put something like this on. I mean obviously New York and others, but the intimacy there was quite incredible. All right let’s go the other way. Biggest “oops.”
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 11:49
Well not hiring the FT for sure. We won’t go into detail. Yeah. That’s the one. That’s the easy way. The last year.
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 12:03
I think the quality speaks for itself. And you were here, you witnessed this. I don’t think there was anything that significantly went wrong for us. There were some things that we learned, things that we could do better. I think we can better helping our delegates interact with each other. Something as simple as having an app so that they can find each other and meet with each other more efficiently. That’s something that we’ll add next year.
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 12:25
I have a small funny one. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it’s funny now. Underestimating how long it would take to stuff 400 delegate bags full of maybe stuff. I can’t remember how many inserts they were. No, there weren’t 50 inches. No, don’t do it. Like 15. And not having the space to do it because this room was full of chairs. So that was interesting. It’s a small thing, but it took longer than we anticipated.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 12:59
All right. Let’s go highs. Let’s pendulum swing this, best moments.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 13:06
The presentation. Some of the presentations were incredible.
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 13:08
Having Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones together on stage in conversation was a home run for us and it really showcases what Greenwich is all about.
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 13:19
But the momentum carried on after that really high-quality content and presentations.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 13:24
And this morning with Mohamad El-Erian who is out in the public space a fair amount to have him here and have that interaction. He’s also very important advisor to a Greenwich based fund and to see the dynamic view, Robert and Mohamad and you know, he’s a brilliant guy and we, and we don’t have a lot of economists, we’re, we’re a little bit more on the, you know, the very senior LPs, the senior, you know, GPS themselves and mentally the economists, he brings that whole perspective. It’s very quantitative, which was I think a very grounding for today.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 14:01
I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of theory. There was a lot of use case applications and that was much different than any commerce I had been to use a lot of people advocating for an idea or a use case. You know, but everything here was tangible. Everybody with had actually something to say from a vantage point that most people are looking to aspire to. And I thought that was inspiring.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 14:27
Talking about your questions at the end there. You had people discuss.
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 14:29
Yeah, and I suppose that’s where those questions came from. You know, I deliberately chose them because I thought they’d get a positive answer. But no, seriously the questions came from the fact I was inspired and I felt like I walk away from this conference able to do my job better, feeling more confident about my understanding of the investment world, but also the world more, more generally. I thought there was so many presentations that really lend themselves to a perspective on where the world is right now and how business needs to respond rather than, you know, getting down to much in the weeds on typeface. So it was fascinating.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 15:29
I thought it was also exciting. We had a number of sponsors who were though, you know, the life to be able to put on something like this. He came up and said they had an incredible experience. Right. They got a lot out of it. I had no idea. That to me is a big highlight to be able to get that kind of feedback as well.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 15:45
I tell you what, we’re running at a time, so I’m going to take two more questions. Actually, we’ll start with this one. Two words to describe what it takes to pull off an event like this. Simon?
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 15:57
A great team.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 15:59
Luck and skill.
Peter Tesei – First Selectman, Town of Greenwich: 16:03
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 16:06
Stamina and more stamina.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 16:09
Good. Last question and something you’d like to see next or that you didn’t have this year?
Simon Carkeek – Head of Commercial, FT Live: 16:14
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 16:23
More interaction. We have these meetings Swedes we only didn’t relate to. I think those were very beneficial for people. It’s a dense space here to have more of those good.
Peter Tesei – First Selectman, Town of Greenwich: 16:37
Perhaps in expansion, bringing in art.
Bruce Mcguire – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 16:45
And I would say I agree that we, I think we did a great job of putting together an ecosystem of managers and investors. So we put the buyers and sellers together. I think we need to do a better job of helping them to connect. And I think that’s something that we can easily do. There are models that we can look to. So that’s number one and then number two, there was a lot of talking about government and I think having some senior policy officials, not just from the United States but from around the world coming here to this event and we’ll also be very additive or smart.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 17:16
Well gentlemen, FT, Greenwich Economic Forum, congratulations. Cheers. Thanks guys.
Jim Aiello – Co-Founder, Greenwich Economic Forum: 17:24
And thanks for you raising your help and letting us know you exist.
Matt Bird – Host, Traders Network Show: 17:32
We’re proud to be part of it and we can’t wait for all of the contents of it. Well that’s it. Thank you guys.