Earlier this month, NEPC kicked off its 23rd Annual Investment Conference—our largest ever with over 200 of our clients and prospective clients in attendance—at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel in the picturesque seaport district in Boston. Given the prevailing political and investment landscape, it was only fitting that this year’s theme was disruption.
Tim McCusker, our CIO, set the tone on Day 1 with his take on megatrends. He was followed by Joe Coughlin, the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. The key takeaways from his talk: people are not only living longer, but also better; they are placing greater focus on experiences and not material objects; and the 47-to-57-year-old female is the future alpha consumer. We also heard from Manulife Asset Management’s Chief Economist Megan Greene, who shared her views on US GDP growth, trade skirmishes and the latest developments in Italy, in a conversation with NEPC’s Kristi Hanson. We ended the day with Mihir Desai, a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, discussing his latest book The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return.
Day 2 started with a discussion around the Market Outlook for a World in Disruption led by NEPC’s Phillip Nelson, which saw the audience weighing in on various topics, ranging from the likelihood of President Trump winning a Nobel Peace Prize or engaging in a Twitter war, to trade relations between the United States and China. This was followed by breakout sessions, covering the gamut from tax reforms, European venture capital, to the importance of women in the investment industry, defensive equity strategies and apps promoting financial wellness.
In addition to grilled chicken, lunch included NEPC’s Kiersten Christensen moderating a panel on healthcare disruption with Beth Nicklas at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Jeanne Gilchrist from Loomis Sayles, and Canaan’s Julie Grant. The topics on the table: the role of Massachusetts as a model for innovation and public-private partnerships and investable healthcare technologies.
The final speaker, Mark Kvamme, discussed the evolution of technology, detailing three major unique waves, and the upcoming fourth one and what that may mean for the future of business. Food for thought: some business practices can go the way of a drone, which has the capability to follow a target and does not need to be controlled by humans. That’s disruption for you!
We thank everyone who attended the event and look forward to seeing you next year! For the uninitiated, we hope you can make it to NEPC’s 24th Investment Conference on May 7-8, 2019 at the Boston Park Plaza.