Independent advisor Borja Martin is based in Chile but his roots are most definitely in Spain. He tells Samantha Muratori about running a tapas restaurant in his spare time and why getting clients to stick to long-term investment goals is getting trickier.
Company: ABCD Group
Investment experience: 13 years
Inspirational investor: Warren Buffett, for his simple advice: If you don’t understand, don’t put your money in it
Favorite team: Real Madrid
What was your first job?
I started working as a waiter when I was in college and every summer I also used to do shifts in a factory. My parents believed I should work during the month of July before the summer holiday. I had to earn my own money.
In regards to private banking, after finishing college I immediately moved to Luxembourg and started as an intern on a six-month contract at the European Investment Bank, a multilateral bank focused on the development of the European Union.
After my time there I signed with Accenture and later joined Morgan Stanley.
Why did you choose a career in finance?
I have always liked interacting with people. After a year behind a computer as an analyst for Accenture, I got an interview with Morgan Stanley to join its back office, and I thought ‘this is my way in’.
I believed once I got in, I would be able to grow and learn until I was ready to deal with clients in the front office. After two very interesting years, understanding markets and talking to the managers of every mutual fund we had in order to prepare monthly factsheets, I was promoted to the front office and started facing clients directly.
If you weren’t working in finance, what would you be doing?
I already have a couple of projects outside of my work in finance. I own a restaurant with two friends called La Caña and I am a teacher at the Universidad de los Andes. I was born in the US and spent a few years in Chile when I was younger but I have Spanish roots.
Our restaurant serves typical Spanish tapas: huevos rotos, croquetas, rabas, always accompanied by a cold Mahou beer. If I wasn’t in finance I would try to develop my soft skills and would probably work within human resources. I like people and I like to help them.
What are your clients most concerned about?
Right now my clients are operating in a very different market from the one that existed a few years ago.
Volatility works differently and there are more factors to take into account, it’s not just supply and demand moving prices anymore. I think the biggest challenge is establishing really concrete investment goals that clients won’t deviate from, even if things aren’t working at first. Staying focused isn’t easy and investor confidence in the banking system has waned a bit.
What was the best investment decision you’ve ever made?
I recommended buying oil when it was at $29. I also tipped Santander when it was at €3. Having said that, I like to think there is a lot of common sense involved in the recommendations a financial advisor gives to clients. In my case, as a Spaniard, I thought the market’s concerns over Spain were affecting the bank’s valuation.
And the worst?
During 2008, everything was a disaster, so most things became a bad investment. I was hit particularly by anything related to Lehman Brothers and real estate. I was working for Banco Santander at the
time and they had pushed each banker to back these investments.
What is the best encounter you’ve had in your investment career?
My best, from a professional point of view, was the day Spain won the World Cup in July 2010. I was working for Santander at the time and I met Emilio Botín, the former executive chairman of Santander who died in 2014. He was one of the most influential businessmen in the history of Spain.