67 WALL STREET, New York - October 25, 2011 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published its International Investing Strategies Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. This special feature contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.
Topics covered: Global Urbanization and Infrastructure Investing - Investing in Emerging Markets - Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses - Valuations Before Investing
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In the following brief excerpt from just one of the many interviews in this in-depth report, an experienced portfolio manager discusses the outlook for the Latin American region for investors.
Heiner W. Skaliks is the Portfolio Manager for the Strategic Latin America Fund since its inception in May 2010. Since April 2010, Mr. Skaliks has served as the CEO of the adviser, Strategic Asset Management, Ltd. Mr. Skaliks was previously employed as a Financial Adviser by Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz S.A. Prior to that, he worked for the International Finance Corporation. For three years, Mr. Skaliks managed a mutual fund company, while being the Portfolio Manager of three domestic mutual funds.
From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Skaliks was the CEO and Portfolio Manager of a Bolivian broker/dealer and boutique asset manager. Mr. Skaliks joined Banco Mercantil in 1996 and spent two years with the institution overseeing a diverse loan portfolio, ranging from microcredit to corporate loans. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an MBA with a concentration in finance, both from the University of Notre Dame, as well as an MPA with a concentration in macroeconomics and financial markets from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
TWST: Please begin with a brief introduction to Strategic Asset Management, including a couple of highlights from your history, a bit about your role there and your total assets under management.
Mr. Skaliks: Strategic Asset Management is a registered investment adviser in the U.S., registered in the SEC, and I guess our main function right now, or our main client, is the Strategic Latin America Fund. At this stage, Strategic Latin America Fund is what we always put forth rather than Strategic Asset Management because it's the tangible real product that's already out there. So how was Strategic Latin America and Strategic Asset Management born?
In 2006, Grupo Mercantil Santa Cruz, which is the largest financial holding company in Bolivia, acquired the operations of Banco Santander in Bolivia. Under Grupo Mercantil Santa Cruz, we have a commercial bank, an asset manager, a broker/dealer, a five-star hotel and some other businesses. After acquiring the banking operations of Banco Santander in Bolivia, the group basically doubled in size overnight. We became the largest bank in 2006 basically overnight, and today we still have that rank. We are number one in basically all indicators. Just to give you an idea, we manage around $1 out of every $4 that flows through the economy in Bolivia. So after that growth the question became, What's next? We grew overnight; we positioned ourselves well in the market.
What do we want to do next?After a brainstorming session and several strategic planning sessions, the beneficial owners of the group decided to explore growth and diversification outside of Bolivia. Okay, where do we want to focus, and what do we want to do there? And they came to the conclusion that they wanted to set up an investment management firm in the U.S. or to cater to the U.S. market - it had to be in investment management, because that's where most of the experience of the board members and the top management was, with asset management and investment management. So it made sense to stay along those lines, not to get into a new venture.
And the next step was: Where do we want to focus? We'll focus on the U.S. because several of the managers had exposure to the U.S., either went to school there or they had ties with the U.S. And considering the fact that the U.S. market is such a big market and effective market, if we can tap into 0.0001% of America with whatever product, we're going to be extremely happy. So the decision was made to stay in the investment management services business line and to start operations in the U.S. So now the key question was: What are we going to offer in the U.S. where we can have a competitive edge and we can have a value-added proposition? And the idea was to set up a mutual fund, the Strategic Latin America Fund, that would invest mainly in Latin America, in both equities and fixed income.
So why Latin America? Because that's where we were born and raised. We are in the region. We are on the ground here in Bolivia. We think we have a good grasp of the political, the social, the economic conditions that are found in the region considering that we are from the region. We travel frequently throughout the region, and the fact we have strategic alliances in the region, it makes sense for us to focus our investments on Latin America.
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- Latin America