An Interview with Prof. Demir Bektic, Hedge Funds specialist
Dr. Bektic just won the 21st Annual Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Awards for his article “Extending Fama-French Factors to Corporate Bond Markets” in Quantitative Strategies Special Issue 2019, written with Josef-Stefan Wenzler, Michael Wegener, Dirk Schiereck and Timo Spielmann.
What are you teaching and why is it very important for students?
I teach Hedge Fund Management at the IUM and it is important in many ways as Hedge Funds are an essential part of a larger financial environment and represent the cutting edge of active investment management. There are lots of reasons why you might choose a career in hedge funds. Sure, it’s a tough business to get into – and to stay in – but it is undoubtedly worth it. It’s not just that a lot of money can be made in hedge funds, and that this wealth outlook still has a strong attraction for many students, but rather the various functions of hedge funds that require a wide range of skills and abilities. Hedge funds need a wide variety of specialized and transferable skills, including investment banking, accounting, corporate finance, business, and economic analysis to name a few. So, whatever your finance specialism, you should be able to find a role that suits you ranging from sales, analyst and research positions to trading as well as portfolio and risk manager roles.
What is the most important added value of having professional teaching students?
In my opinion, It’s crucial to teach students a combination of academic and practical skills to produce employable graduates and it’s crucial that educational institutions set their focus on the industries they train their students to work in. There are great benefits to gain from an industry-focused education that concentrates on both academic and practical skills. For one, graduates have a clear competitive advantage when they apply for jobs. Secondly, this approach is actually fun for both students and professors. When it comes to motivation, having fun is a core element. Being industry-focused means two things: keeping up with the industry and involving the industry. I’m fortunate to teach at an institution with industry focus as a declared goal. It imbues IUM’s curriculum and it’s something I, as a professor, strive to implement throughout all of my lectures.
In your opinion, why is it still important to have a Master’s in Finance degree in the finance world of today?
The MSc in Finance is usually intended to prepare students for a wide range of careers both inside and outside the financial industry. It usually aims to produce finance generalists, whereas at the IUM two specializations are available – namely in Hedge Funds & Private Equity or Private Banking & Wealth Management. There’s something about having specific responsibilities that allow you to get really focused on a defined skillset. This is perhaps the biggest benefit of specialization. Specialization comes with a greater sense of trust in the eyes of employers. An employer is going to have more trust that you know what you’re doing if you’ve exhibited a history of focusing your efforts on a singular skill or objective.
Why would you hire an IUM student?
In general, the advantage of hiring students who have no preconceived notions about the industry is that they may see things from a different angle. They might see a process or project in a way that seasoned employees won’t simply because they don’t know the traditional ways of doing things. Yes, sometimes this leads them to make suggestions that won’t work, but other times, their ideas may actually result in a more efficient way of doing something. In particular, IUM students are quick learners with the ability to multitask and to navigate through new, innovative technology. Additionally, Monaco offers a diverse and multi-cultural environment simultaneously fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. This gives IUM students an excellent and unique experience with the edge that they are self-confident and can speak up and voice their opinions in a remarkable manner.
What is the most important advice you can give to our MSc in Finance students?
Studying offers a unique time in your life when you can focus exclusively on self-improvement and personal development. Take advantage of it. Get to know yourself. Learn your strengths and apply them. Learn your weaknesses and overcome them. Getting a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. In a few years, you won’t even remember most of your grades. If you get a bad grade, learn from your mistakes and prepare better for the next exam, and do the same with every challenge life has to offer.
Dr. Demir Bektić is Executive Director and Head of Quant Fixed Income at Deka Investment, where he is responsible for a double-digit billion-dollar amount of assets under management. Prior to joining Deka Investment, he has worked as a portfolio manager Global Macro / Multi-Asset at the Monti Investment family office and in the Portfolio Management / Trading Absolute Return division of Lupus alpha Asset Management. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the International University of Monaco and an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Technical University of Darmstadt. Furthermore, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Miami. Demir is also Managing Director of the private institute for quantitative capital market research (IQ-KAP) at the DekaBank. He regularly presents his research at international conferences and publishes in journals such as the Journal of Portfolio Management, Journal of Fixed Income and Journal of Asset Management. Additionally, Demir referees for journals such as the Journal of Banking and Finance, Financial Analysts Journal and Journal of Asset Management.
During his doctoral studies, he was a visiting Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and he obtained his Ph.D. in Finance from the Technical University of Darmstadt. Demir received his Diploma (equivalent to Master) in Business Informatics from the University of Mannheim where he was a research assistant to Professor Martin Weber at the Banking and Finance Department (University of Mannheim) and at Mannheim Business School.
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