Several times over the past few years I have written about Global Brands. Most recently in July I wrote Global Brands II, where I stated: “We will continue to expand our business by investing in our core brands on a global basis and serving the needs of our client base in the major markets they operate in.” Summer gave way to fall and I have just returned from a two-week trip to London and Hong Kong. Asset International’s products and services are aimed at needs of the professionals in the asset management sector and they deserve to hear the vision from the CEO of the company on how we can best meet the needs of their professional managers. (I was fortunate that Mary Claire’s schedule allowed her to join me. When we returned to New York last evening and filled two dry cleaning bags and started to look at the accumulated mail, it was clear that we had been on the road for an extended period!)
We started our trip in London, where the morning news programs were focused on the battle for the opposition Labour Party to elect new leadership after 13 years in power. The fratricidal battle between the Miliband brothers played out during the day as the younger brother Ed, with strong trade union support, sent his older and more experienced brother, David to the backbenches when he lost and decided not to stand for the Shadow Cabinet. On the flight over I had started Tony Blair’s A Journey: My Political Life. In it he outlines how he managed to position the Labour Party for an extended period of governing with his New Labour approach, which moved the party toward the center-left position. There are fascinating sections on his close relationships during this time with both former presidents Clinton and Bush. Although, one could argue that the most fascinating sections deal with settling old scores with Gordon Brown, his one-time Chancellor of the Exchequer and the person who succeeded him as prime minister and led Labour to defeat this past spring. By the time we returned to London on Wednesday, October 6th, it was clear that Ed Miliband, with his New Generation theme and the appointment of his Shadow Cabinet, was breaking with the Blair/Brown years by moving the Labour Party further left in the response to the current coalition government of Cameron & Clegg, which continues to get high marks from most quarters. The tabloids quickly labeled Ed Miliband “Red Ed,” and to this observer I sense that it will be some time before Labour moves from opposition to governing.
In Hong Kong, Daniel Enskat, Senior Managing Director of our Strategic Insight division and one of our well-known global analysts, gave the closing keynote address at the Hong Kong Investment Funds’ 4th Annual Conference. Daniel is an outstanding speaker and his global insights on the opportunities for the mutual fund industry were well received. On the same day, Monday, October 4th, Daniel and I hosted a dinner at the Landmark Mandarin for a dozen CEOs from the region to announce and celebrate the opening of our new office in the International Finance Center tower, IFC Two. We were joined by two of our senior management team members, Mike Rosenthal and Jason Cassidy, and several new members of the Strategic Insight Hong Kong office. It provided us with a forum to detail and reinforce our commitment to this fast growing part of the world, which in most respects has weathered the Great Recession better than the United States and Europe.
We returned to London for a 1 day Chief Investment Officer Summit, produced by our aiCIO Editor-In-Chief Kip McDaniel (yes, we have re-branded ai5000 to speak more directly to its subscribers). More than 50 chief investment officers joined us for the event and once again the quality of the panels was superb. On Thursday evening our dinner was anchored again by Nassim Taleb, of Black Swan fame, who did not disappoint his audience with his insightful presentation. The dinner also provided us with the opportunity for Andreas Pfunder, our Managing Director of Strategic Insight Europe, and Stephen Moylan, our senior executive for sales and marketing, to invite key clients and prospects to join us in the late afternoon and for dinner and to learn more about our plans for expansion in Europe. I have always believed that CEOs need to make the time to get out from behind their desks and go out and meet their clients. Without client support and trust, the best strategies are doomed to fail. In spite of the fact that several of our brands are more than 20 years old, we need to continually interact with our global client base, particularly during this time of growth. Their support and insights are essential to Asset International.
My only regret from the trip, and it is a small one, is that I did not get to see the closing singles matches of the Ryder Cup, where the European team held off the strong challenge from the American team on the final day to win back the cup by the narrowest of margins, 14 vs. 13. I was forced to watch the highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter. I extend my congratulations to all the players and their respective captains, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, and especially to the European team on recapturing the Ryder Cup.