Meet Alejandro Jimenez, our portfolio manager at Grünfin.
What do you do at Grünfin?
I manage the investment portfolios of our customers, engage with the world’s largest companies on sustainability issues, and provide research on sustainability and financial markets.
I usually start my day early by reading market news and third-party research. I then study our investment positions and overall portfolio movements. This routine keeps me informed and on top of portfolios.
I then explore how to actively influence the world’s largest corporations towards more sustainability. Big companies have a huge impact on the planet. Without their efforts, we cannot reverse climate change. At Grünfin we make a difference by directing capital to the most sustainable companies and, through shareholder activism, by calling for impactful changes from corporates.
We meet with the upper management of big companies, participate in their shareholder meetings and engage with the world’s largest fund managers to vote on matters important to our customers.
We are pushing for greater change with companies like PepsiCo, Unilever, Nestle, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, BASF and Credit Suisse.
The rest of my day’s activities vary considerably and usually involve working closely with other departments like marketing, technology, legal and customer service.
However, I cannot stop myself from checking the markets every 15 minutes. It’s been a habit for 25 years! But to be clear, I don’t believe in short-term trading. I invest with a long-term horizon…but it’s always fun to peek.
What’s your superpower at Grünfin?
My long professional investing experience. I managed money at J.P. Morgan in New York and Geneva for nearly two decades.
You can’t call yourself a portfolio manager until you’ve experienced both bad and good markets. I started working when the internet bubble popped in the early ‘00s, navigated the financial crisis of ‘08 and experienced the great 11-year bull market that followed.
At J.P. Morgan I managed large portfolios and advised some of the world’s wealthiest and most accomplished clients. I got to invest across all asset classes and instrument types globally: stocks, bonds, ETFs, hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, real estate, commodities, derivatives, currencies and cash.
Additionally, I led teams of 30+ investment advisors across multiple jurisdictions. On the last team I managed we held close to US$ 30 billion in client positions, roughly the size of Estonia’s economy (GDP).
I probably also have a higher-than-normal ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This was fostered by lots of moving as a child and adult. I’ve lived in eight cities, six countries and three continents.
What do you like about working at Grünfin?
The go-getter spirit of the team, i.e., the “let’s stop watching climate change from the sidelines and do something to fix it” attitude.
We, humans, have done tremendous damage to Earth. The devastating effects of global warming are felt all around, yet we can still fix this. I love the quote, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”
Grünfin is made of people who’ve already had successful careers. We’re here not because we need a job, but because we want to. This makes the team environment fun and aligned to the same goal of attaining a more sustainable planet.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a huge basketball fan. I love to shoot around or watch a game. I’ll get intense when debating who the GOAT (greatest of all time) is. If you’re wondering, it’s Michael Jordan (sorry LeBron), even though I’m a Lakers fan and he demolished us in the ‘90s.
What is your favourite book you would recommend to others?
If you’re interested in climate change, the book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates is a great start for a general understanding.
If you already know the basics, the book Speed & Scale by John Doerr outlines an excellent and detailed plan on how to solve global warming.
What’s your most useful eco tip?
Recognize that nearly everything we use leaves a carbon footprint at some point, be it at the time of production, transportation or consumption. This may include the clothes we wear, food we eat, phone we use, house we build, tea we boil, etc. So don’t stress about changing everything in your daily life at once, but do focus on reducing those things with the biggest carbon emissions.
In my case, household heating is a big one. Even though my heating is run by electricity, I know the source of that electricity is mainly fossil fuels. Therefore, I’ve made an effort to lower my thermostat by 2C. If Europe turned its heating down by that much in all residential and commercial buildings, natural gas imports would fall by 10%. That’s a big impact for doing something so simple.
These decisions are very personal of course. Start step-by-step and gather momentum to make even greater changes.
If you had to teach a class on one thing, what would you teach?
Investing. And I have some crazy stories from the ‘08 financial crisis. A scary time with many lessons learned. We need many hours to go over these stories. :-)
My simplest investment advice is think long-term, continuously invest your savings, diversify, keep costs low and focus on the sustainability impact. All this, of course, with a risk level that you can handle.
If you could spend a day doing only what you love to do, what would that day look like?
I love spending time with my kids and wife. Our home is located inside a nationally-protected forest and we enjoy outdoor activities there. Whether it’s chasing after my kids, exercising or picnicking, any activity there with them is a perfect day.
Last but not least, a few fire questions.
What’s your favourite place of all the places you’ve travelled, and why?
Bordeaux, France. The food, parks, architecture, pedestrian streets, squares and, of course, the wine tours :-)
Are you a coffee or a tea person?
Coffee. Need the caffeine.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Dog. I find them more fun.
Ocean or mountains?
Mountains. I like the views from up high.
Summer or winter?
Neither. Spring…it’s the perfect weather.