Igor Cornelsen: Inside the Mind of an Investment Guru


Igor Cornelsen is an accomplished entrepreneur and serial investment banker from Brazil. Igor was born on October 4th, 1947, in Curitiba, Brazil. He attended the Federal University of Parana in 1947 which one was the only engineering school in the states of Santa Carina and Parana. It was also very competitive to be selected which goes to show the kind of student Igor Cornelsen was when it came to academics. Igor would later decide to opt to study economics at the same university after just two years of studying engineering.

Igor went to graduate in 1970 and got a job in investment banking soon afterward. It was common for people with a background in engineering to go into investment banking at that time. This is because of the rare ability to compute compounded interests with precision. This was an invaluable asset in Brazil, especially where computers and advanced calculators were unheard of at that time. Igor sensed an opportunity as a result and maximized his potential thus making a name for himself in the industry.

He would soon end up in Rio which was then a bustling commercial hub in Brazil and his experience as an investment banker did come in handy in the banking sector. Igor continued to shine in his new role and quickly climbed the ranks to be the best in his class. This made him receive a promotion to sit on the board of directors of Multibanco in 1974 at the tender age of 27. He was appointed as the CEO of the same company 2 years later in 1976.

Multibanco was soon acquired in 1978 which saw Igor pursuing other opportunities. The first opportunity that came along was from Unibanco, which at the time was one of the biggest investment banking companies in Brazil. He stayed in the company for almost 7 years leaving when the inflation rate has just become astronomical in the country.

Igor Cornelsen then moved to Libra Bank PLC which was a London affiliated merchant bank. This was the beginning of an interesting point in his career. It was also the first time he got to be paid in US dollars which was a game changer since the country was still recovering from inflation. It also presented a whole new world for him the world of investment banking. Continuing with his line of success, Igor moved together with his colleagues from London to Standard Chartered Merchant Bank, as one of the members of the board of directors and top representative in Brazil. He enjoyed success in investment banking for a period of 7 years until when he decided to open his own investment firm offering the same services he was providing at the Standard Chartered Merchant Bank.

Igor on Investment Advising Career

According to Igor, the idea of starting his own firm came as a result of over two decades in the field. He has been managing funds since 1971 and the idea of starting a firm just came naturally.

Igor on His Typical Work Day

In an interview with IdeaMench, his day starts early morning in Sao Paulo, which is also the same time the markets are opening in Europe. He then goes on to look at international news. Later in the day, he will study countries economies and companies.  There are some days he will attend meetings and others will be spent meeting with peers to discuss the market dynamics.

Bringing Ideas to Life

According to Igor, his strategy is based on following economies. His decision is informed in improving the assets in those countries based on the performance of the economy.

Igor on Trends

Igor is all about catching the trends before competitors. According to him, this always gives him leverage on determining the trends which are likely to change the market conditions and forces. Markets will always have an ideological bias which is not a good ideology for investors in the long run according to Igor.

Productivity in Entrepreneurship

According to Igor, what makes him productive is the amount of research he puts in his work. He is always looking for unbiased news sources like Reuters to make decisions based on the prevailing economic and political environment of a country. Igor believes Reuters delivers accurate information and has no bias.

His Advice on Upcoming Investment Bankers

Igor believes information is everything when it comes to trading. His advice to upcoming investment bankers is to focus on reading factual sources and depend less on opinion. They should also learn to perceive news and how it affects the markets and look at everything from an international perspective.

Igor on Strategy

Igor believes that there is no single strategy that guarantees success. You need to try and iterate ideas depending on the prevailing marketing conditions. He also prefers investing in lower performing markets which is not a popular strategy among investment bankers. He likes investing in international stocks. His strategy is basically to search for a country that is on an upward trend economically and then invest in businesses from the country.

He advises his clients to invest in damaged stocks with potential instead of going for well-performing stocks when just entering the market. It is all about looking at the bigger picture because the company has a high chance of recovering and the investor can then resell the stocks at a bigger profit. He also advises those investing in the markets to observe the currencies as they can affect the investments.

Dealing with Failure

One way of overcoming failure in the in investment banking is selling what is expensive and to keep what to buy what is cheap. Igor did the exact opposite in 2007 when the world economy was going through turmoil.

Following the Law

Cornelsen believes in following the law when doing business. This is especially true in a foreign country which the regulations could be tricky. There are also the cultural norms and tradition to put into consideration. An investor should do due diligence to avoid the hefty penalties and fines which will be accompanied by overwhelming paperwork.

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