Zurich Presentation & Romantic Road

Zurich Presentation & Romantic Road

Zurich Presentation & Romantic Road by Vitaliy Katsenelson, Vitaliy Katsenelson’s Contrarian Edge

I am back from Europe. To be honest, I am under the weather (I either have the flu or massive jetlag). I am going to keep this email very short. My brother Alex and I spent a few days in London, visiting Alex’s daughter Irene, who studies viola at Trinity College of Music in Greenwich. She is an incredibly talented and dedicated violinist (the practices-four-to-six-hours-a-day type). I recorded this video at her high school graduation performance in 2014.

Guy Spier and I presented and did a joint Q&A with the UK CFA Society, and then the next day we flew to Zurich. There we did another presentation, this time for the Zurich CFA.

What was interesting about that presentation was that twenty minutes before the talk, when Guy and I showed up, we realized that the Zurich format was different from the one in London and Frankfurt. We were joined by the well-known European investor Georg von Wyss, and each of us was asked to describe his particular flavor of value investing. Both Guy and I were very excited about this – we didn’t have any slides or even an outline. We just jotted some points we wanted to make, and there we went. (Unfortunately the only paper I could find at the last minute was sticky notes. Therefore, while I was presenting I kept dropping my sticky notes). I think that going forward I’ll be rethinking how I use a slide deck when I present. I think I rely too much on it and this stiffens my presentation – my presentation stops being a story. Going “commando” (without the slide deck) like I did Zurich was very refreshing.

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The Zurich presentation was recorded – you can watch it here:

Alex and I enjoyed Guy and his wife Lory’s hospitality for a few days. We shared a Shabbat dinner, and then the next day we drove to Frankfurt, which is less than 260 miles from Zurich. We could have driven there in a day, but instead Alex and I took the “Romantic Road” (Romantische Strasse). The Romantic Road is a product of the ingenious German travel industry, created in 1960 to bring visitors back to Germany. The travel industry identified a dozen, mostly small towns that were not impacted by WW2, and now tourists can follow the route through them. I get the joke that I drove the Romantic Road with my own brother; but hey, my wife couldn’t get away, and besides, my brother Alex is my best friend and a perfect travel companion.

The Romantic Road ended for us in a fairly large city, Wurzburg. Alex and I got up early in the morning there and went to see Marienberg Fortress. The following two hours turned into one of the most memorable mornings of my life. The whole town was covered in fog from the river, though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, just bright sunlight. The combination of fog, sunlight, and late autumn created an incredible mystical environment. In those two hours I probably took half of the pictures from the whole trip. Some of them are amazing. I feel like I’m cheating when I share these photos because they overstate by a long mile my skill as a photographer. But anyway, here is a video I put together on the plane (an eight-hour flight gives you a lot of time to kill). I hope you enjoy it.

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I was born and raised in Murmansk, Russia (the home for Russia’s northern navy fleet, think Tom Clancy’s Red October). I immigrated to the US from Russia in 1991 with all my family – my three brothers, my father, and my stepmother. (Here is a link to a more detailed story of how my family emigrated from Russia.) My professional career is easily described in one sentence: I invest, I educate, I write, and I could not dream of doing anything else. Here is a slightly more detailed curriculum vitae: I am Chief Investment Officer at Investment Management Associates, Inc (IMA), a value investment firm based in Denver, Colorado. After I received my graduate and undergraduate degrees in finance (cum laude, but who cares) from the University of Colorado at Denver, and finished my CFA designation (three years of my life that are a vague recollection at this point), I wanted to keep learning. I figured the best way to learn is to teach. At first I taught an undergraduate class at the University of Colorado at Denver and later a graduate investment class at the same university that I designed based on my day job. Currently I am on sabbatical from teaching for a while. I found that the university classroom was not big enough for me, so I started writing and, let’s be honest, I needed to let my genetically embedded Russian sarcasm out. I’ve written articles for the Financial Times, Barron’s, BusinessWeek, Christian Science Monitor, New York Post, Institutional Investor … and the list goes on. I was profiled in Barron’s, and have been interviewed by Value Investor Insight, [email protected], BusinessWeek, BNN, CNBC, and countless radio shows. Finally, my biggest achievement – well actually second biggest; I count quitting smoking in 1992 as the biggest – I’ve authored the Little Book of Sideways Markets (Wiley, 2010) and Active Value Investing (Wiley, 2007).

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