Citywire Americas chats to Bogotá-based Simon Correa, equity strategist at Colombia’s Ultralat Capital Markets, who talks about why he chose to work in finance and what he’d do if he weren’t in the investment industry.
What was your first-ever job?
I started in Helm Bank while I was finishing my economic studies at the Universidad del Rosario. I worked there two years, and moved from the retail area to asset management, specifically to their international equity team.
I think the experience I gained on the retail side is one of the most valuable things I gained because it showed me the most important perspective in private banking: the client’s.
It molded my way of presenting things to a client, keeping it simple and friendly but at the same time original. Many ideas and businesses get lost along the way because the client – or the retail area – doesn’t understand it, no matter how good the idea is. Simple as that.
And that’s the core of private banking, making something complex very simple (to the client). I then moved to Grupo Aval, the biggest financial group in Colombia, before later joining Ultralat.
Why did you choose to work in finance?
I’m a very curious person. I like to know the details of every process, how things are made and what is the force behind everything. That’s why I love capital markets.
Here I can see how the world is changing. It’s like art. There are no boundaries and every day there is something new: a new theory, a new company, a new product. I like the fact that I’m always looking for new stuff.
What is the best investment decision you’ve ever made?
Quite a few, like the timing of Fed hikes, Brexit and Trump. But I think the best decision is thinking like a client and it’s very simple: I don’t invest or recommend something I don’t fully understand, regardless of the potential.
What is the worst investment decision you’ve ever made?
Obviously I’ve made bad choices (like everybody), like investing in something I wasn’t convinced by 100%, or following a trend, or succumbing to pressure.
One thing that springs to mind is investing in penny stocks. I didn’t understand them well (still don’t) and was not convinced if it was a good idea, but the client was very intent on investing in those kind of things, so I kind of gave in to him. The results were not good at all. Fortunately, the client was very aware of the risks and didn’t make a big fuss about it.
What is your favorite movie or novel?
That’s a tough one. I think it’s a tie between Scarface and the Back to the Future trilogy. But my favorite genre is horror.
What are your favorite spots in Bogotá?
I think Bogotá is more a cultural city. There aren’t as many sightseeing places as in other cities, but there are a lot of places and events to go to like restaurants, concerts, theaters.
The traffic is here is crazy, so you have to pick your transport options carefully. Recently I’ve been going a lot to the bars and restaurants in La Macarena (a district downtown); it has a nice and casual vibe that is very unique.
If you weren’t selecting funds for your clients what would you be doing?
I’ve always liked the idea of being an actor... or something related to music. Something completely different from the financial sector.
This article was published in the April edition of Citywire Americas, to get a subscription, click here.