I try not to be influenced by other analysts or professors or anything like it. I believe it is better to make my mind with facts rather than opinions.”
Igor Cornelsen was born October 4th, 1947, in Curitiba, Brazil. In 1965 Igor attended engineering school, at the Federal University of Parana. At the time, it was the only engineering school in of the States of Parana, and Santa Catarina. Making for an extremely competitive admissions protocol. After 2 years of studying to be an engineer, Igor would make a fateful decision to begin studying economics at that same university.
Mr. Cornelsen graduated in 1970, and went on to a job at an investment bank. A common practice for engineers at the time, because of their unique ability to calculate compounded interest rates with sliding rules. An invaluable skill at a time when calculators and computers were not as widely used.
Igor made a name for himself in this sector, eventually ending up in Rio, with a special opportunity to work as an investment banker. He would go on to be the best in his class, and would receive a promotion to the board of directors of Multibanco in 1974, soon after becoming the CEO two years later in 1976.
But Multibanco would be acquired by the Bank of America in 1978, and Igor left to pursue other opportunities. The first one that presented itself was a move to Unibanco, which was one of the leading investment firms in Brazil. He would stay there until 1985, when the inflation rate was exploding. Then Igor moved on to work for Libra Bank PLC, which was a London Merchant Bank.
This marked an interesting point in his career, as it was the first time his salary would be paid in US Dollars, opening up a whole new world of investment opportunity. After continuing his success here, Mr. Cornelsen moved on with his London colleagues to Standard Chartered Merchant Bank, as a member of the board of directors and a representative in Brazil. There he became an extremely successful member of the board for the next 7 years. Until 1995, when Igor Cornelsen left to form his own investment firm, providing the same services he was providing for the London merchant banks. Igor still works as an investment manager, and has a hand in operating his investment fund daily.
Where did the idea for your investment advising career come from?
The idea of my business is a consequence of my experience as an investment banker. I used to manage funds in the stock market, since 1971 for the banks I have worked for, so it was a mere consequence of my own experience.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My work day starts very early in the morning in Sao Paulo, when markets are opening in Europe. I continue lo look to international news, and to study economies and companies during the day, adapting the portfolio of my fund accordingly. Some days I attend meetings with other colleagues, and meet friends to learn about their views.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I follow the economies which are improving investing assets in those economies and normally sell assets in countries I believe will deteriorate due to political problems or economic decisions.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What excites me is when I perceive before other participants a new trend that will change the market. Markets have ideological bias, and ideology is not a good advisor for investments.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
What helps me in investments is the amount of time I get information directly from Reuters, instead of wasting time with analysis produced by other investors or analysts. Reuters has no bias, and delivers good information.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give to young managers is to read a lot of information and less the opinion of other market participants. They have to learn how news will affect the markets and to look to the world as a whole instead of small pieces.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I do not know one single idea the all other market participants disagree with me.
There is always someone who would tend to think on one subject like I do.
There were some ideas that most market participants would disagree with me in the past.
One was the euro that almost everybody would believe it would vanish in the first European recession and I was convinced it will stay until an international currency replaces it.
In 2010 I had sold all my assets in Brazil because I thought the new economic model the government was implementing in Brazil would be a disaster for the economy. Some economists did agree with me, but I do not know anybody who had sold all Brazilian assets they had due to it. I have sold all mine in March 2010, well before other investors did.
Russia defaulted on its debt at the end of last century, on those days nobody believe Russia would be back to the market, and would try to pay its bond. I do not know of anybody who bet that Russia would try to come to an agreement with its creditors. I bet on that, and I was very well rewarded for it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I do not have a specific strategy to grow my business. It grew due to finding out assets depreciated before others did.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I failed as a investor when in 2007 I did close all the positions in commodities I was short, instead of selling all shares I used to have. One has to sell what it is expensive, and to keep what to buy what it is cheap. In 2007 I did the opposite believing I was being conservative.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I do use Reuters news as they have no bias and they just report what it is going on.
What is your favorite quote?
I try not to be influenced by other analysts or professors or anything like it. I believe it is better to make my mind with facts rather than opinions.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.