How to optimize your career in the finance industry

A Chat with Bernstein

Notes from a fireside chat with BERNSTEIN on June 19, 2024


How I could have become Walter White, but stumbled into the world of high finance

My alternative path: Breaking Bad



Surprises in the finance industry, that business school did not prepare me for at all


The value of knowing economic history. The potentially negative value of predictions, especially macro predictions

  • Reflexivity, adjusting expectations and behavior vs. equilibrium

  • Herd psychologynarrative, hedge fund “clubs”

  • The importance of money for growth, leverage, procyclicality (vs. equilibrium)

  • Relative multiples vs self, peers, history, market, trends/fads/narratives, vs. DCF (absolute, exact)

  • Relationship with companies & clients (& colleagues) over objectivity & sound business

  • Recommendation structures; Neutral = Sell, relative not absolute

  • Index benchmark vs absolute (relative, rotation), float effect, passive investing effect

  • Flow vs. stock, rotation, cash is not an option: liquidity sloshing around, rarely shrinking

  • The Federal reserve (academics, old data, career opp., money printing) never gives up! Always has more tools.

  • Authorities kicking the can vs. long term responsible and rational. The game is rigged to the upside.

What I had to unlearn:

  • EMH and equilibrium vs. fads, trends, changing preferences, procyclicality

  • DCF and price targets vs. multiples, narratives, CAGR

  • Equilibrium vs. pendulum, trends vs. cycles. Markets move away from equilibrium

  • Trusting people (vs. trust no one: verify, verify, verify, really, really, really, 5Ys)

  • E-mail vs IRL: the real stuff happens in real life

  • Discount rate vs CAGR (invert!)

  • Valuation based rational long-term investment decisions vs “rotation”, “tracking error”, “career risk”

How to transition from sell-side buy-side?


Acquire a wide range of knowledge and skills, and…:

BUT WHY should you?!

  • Ask your fund manager clients what they expect and need

  • Give them that. Be useful. Actually useful, not just an admin cog

  • Tell them you are interested in moving

  • Tell a headhunter firm too

  • Keep a verifiable track record of your calls and your returns

  • Otherwise, start your own fund (prove you can manage money)

  • Be prepared to accept lower pay in the transition from sell-side to buy-side

My transition was haphazard


The internet stock mania started just as I got my first job as an equity analyst 1994

Computer literate and junior => luck and circumstance gave me the responsibility for (small) IT stocks research

Studied network architecture: What is the internet and WWW actually made of? => knowledge



Naive and optimistic, unjaded => could stomach making buy recommendations most of the the way up in the IT bubble => was liked, respected, had contacts => was headhunted to a hedge fund

Kept reading books, research, talked to analysts, tried to understand how the market actually works. Matured as an analyst just in time to ride internet shorts all the way down as a PM

Slow but thorough…

Investing philosophy

  • Buy “low” multiples and v.v., but your own E and your own year

  • P/E below 10 (whose E, what year, very flexible interpretation)

  • Status quo, nothing new under the sun, mean reversion

  • Find the stable patterns in F, F’, F’’, or other variables. Know your uncertainty

  • multi-year CAGR, not instant NPV target prices

  • DCF is useless except for explaining why P/E should be 15-16 (10% return), and implicit RRR

  • Horizon: 4-12 years. Long Only.

  • Don’t have to win every battle. Take the stop loss if the trend is against you

My evolution




Tech only

Sweden only


Added Banks and global perspective

Studied macro and the role of money. Austrian economics.

From long only to Long/Short


From shorting some things, to always long something (so, back to long only but with more asset classes)

Gravitating toward established large caps, (from moonshot companies)

From absolute, DCF, pure numbers; to intuition, narrative/industry/rotation, multiples. From double up to stop loss



LESS predictions. Less big visionary ideas about change. Counting on the status quo


  • Intuitive – understanding is more important than details

  • Robust – avoid many (detailed) assumptions, complexity, 3-body problem

  • Market wisdom – the last 100 years are still in play, are still valid, same humanity

  • History repeating – history is cyclical, many different cycles (Ray Dalio)

  • Patience above all. Patience. You can wait longer than the market can stay irrational (institutions can’t)

  • Never go all in – leave room for bad luck, for capturing volatility dividend

  • A to B: Know and understand point A. Imagine point B

Futuris’ track record. Our 69 big decisions over 15 years



Balancing returns vs capital projection


Privately, I don’t think about preserving capital in my portfolio of listed stocks. There I buy very high risk companies, looking for 10-100 baggers

Professionally, all calculated risks are okay if they can be explained. However, knowing you don’t know, opens up for a certain kind of stop-loss rules, and to limiting your investment options to large, liquid holdings

Down years are no big deal for a private investor. But it can be a career killer for a fund manager

What’s at the top of your mind now?


Electrification (mining, nuclear power, solar energy, batteries, coal)

Real assets: gold, silver, uranium, ETH, BTC, real estate, distressed debt

Automation (AI, robots)

4th Turning vs. Status Quo, New or Old World Order: what might happen to fiat money, gold price, Bitcoin, multinational supply chains?

Tip:become a native on Apple Vision Pro or similar VR platforms

Tip: use several different AI tools every day. Make the effort to become fluent, like in Excel or Word. Be creative. Changes will only come faster, make sure you see them

Tip: excel in something, anything, put in the quality hours in a hobby, don’t doom scroll or watch TV

Coming two years:

  • Hold gold, silver, Bitcoin, Ether, uranium

  • Make short lists for accumulating quality companies in panic dips

  • Alternatively, low quality, highly leveraged at crisis prices, and hope for the best

  • Choose future-proof sectors: Electrification, automation, robotics, AI (difficult to find cheap winners, though)

  • Track past winners: Which companies surged the most in 2021 and 2023-24?

  • Save 10-20% in cash, and put off using leverage for if a ‘crash’ occurs (index down >35%)

  • Follow successful investors on Twitter, blogs, pods, newsletters, 13F reports: Marks, Dalio, Hussman, Burry, Ackman, Jesse Felder, MacroVoices


Keep in mind that investing is mainly about psychology, not mathematics


The Investing Course

A 6 Week Online Course in Stock Investing

Learn how to find, analyze, and invest in stocks

Taught by Mikael Syding, who was the managing director and partner at Futuris Asset Management (European Hedge Fund of the Decade 2000-2010)

We are contacting applicants Between 24-31 March.
Apply before April to be guaranteed a spot.

Enrollment between April 1-8 by payment on website. Course starts April 8th.