“Three things people do all over the planet: everyone falls in love, plays fútbol and is connected to the capital markets.”
That observation was part of a captivating presentation, “Operating an Effective Equity Portfolio” delivered by J. Cooper Abbott, co-chief operating officer and executive vice president of investments at Eagle Asset Management, Inc. a Raymond James subsidiary. Abbott’s December 12, 2013 lecture, hosted by The State Farm Financial Literacy Lab at Florida International University (FIU), was one of the events he participated in while serving as an FIU Executive in Residence.
“In financial services, you can exercise an interest in just about anything,” he told the packed house of 130 people, an impressive number for a finals week event. “History, politics, geography – many things are ultimately expressed one way or another in the capital market.”
Abbott said that Eagle and its affiliates are “running $30 billion in equity and fixed income portfolios with an interesting mix of different clientele.”
Investments involve two simple things, he pointed out: math and human behavior.
“Human behavior should never be underestimated, particularly when investing,” he said. “So be very careful of believing you have the genie in the bottle, even after going through those 16 pages of spreadsheets.”
Matthew Sorkin, an accounting major in FIU’s College of Business, found Abbott’s presentation to be very worthwhile.
“My long term goal is to work for a hedge fund so hearing a major player’s insight on capital markets and investing was really interesting,” Sorkin said.
Abbott, wearing an FIU tie, also spoke on the value of education, labeling it as the one truly risk-free asset.
“The time and dollars you’re putting in now are a sound investment,” he said. “You’re planning for the rest of your lives. Education has the potential to be very transformational.”
Abbott told the business students they are very lucky to be joining the business world now.
“You are coming out of a crisis. This was not a run of the mill recession. This was a real financial crisis,” he said. “When you have these challenging situations early in your career, you benefit from some very valuable lessons. Plus, infrastructures are being re-written. We also have a unique opportunity to recreate (a more ethical) image of what it means to be in business and finance.”
Many benefit from Abbott’s visit.
Abbott spent an entire day on FIU’s main campus, meeting with students, faculty and staff in addition to the lecture. He shared some of the opportunities Raymond James offers students. He commented that he was “impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the students, professors and administration.”
Part of his time was spent with students from FIU’s Student Managed Investment Fund where he serves on the advisory board. This fund gives students a hands-on experience with equity analysis and portfolio management, and is arranged to resemble a diversified buy-side fund, split into sector teams with managers and analysts.