The Investment Perspectives 2021 online conference, following on seamlessly from six successful annual Czech Investors Forum conferences, was held on Wednesday 20 January 2021. In the light of the prevailing circumstances, the conference was held in an entirely virtual format for the first time.
Twelve acclaimed experts gave presentations on interesting topics via professional interactive broadcasting. This was one of the most influential specialist and educational investment-related events of the year for professionals and the general public alike, as underscored by the almost 300 active attendees. “Leading Czech and foreign economists and investment managers provided a range of viewpoints not only on how to invest in 2021, but also on what we can expect of the Czech economy this year and what strategy to pursue if we want to defeat inflation,” says Petr Laštovka, a partner at event organiser EMUN PARTNERS family office.
The technically flawless virtual conference was split into three stimulating blocks over the course of more than four hours. Eva Zamrazilová, the Czech economist who has chaired the National Budget Council since January 2018, reported on the current economic and market environment and shared her outlook for 2021 with the audience. She expressed her belief that it would take up to a decade for public finances to recover. KPMG’s Mojmír Hampl pointed out that some areas of inflation remain barely visible, noting, for example, that real estate prices have soared in recent years, but are not included in the consumer price index.
The conference stressed a sophisticated and comprehensive approach to diversified investment. According to EMUN PARTNERS family office’s Filip Savi, this is the best way to reliably protect assets on markets against a backdrop of rising inflation and a lack of interest income from safe instruments. “Rigorous diversification, allocation to long-term growth assets and, most importantly, investment strategy discipline will shield you from the effects of inflation,” says Savi. A panel discussion was then moderated by PPF banka’s Ľuboš Mokráš, during which experts answered the audience’s questions.
The second block, covering selected investment strategies in the Covid era, highlighted the fact that we are experiencing a whole new reality. Interest rates are very low, inflation is rising and stocks are too expensive. Should we be buying real estate, stocks, gold, or equity? The head of the Bohemian Empire hedge fund Štěpán Pírko, KPMG’s Igor Mesenský, RSJ Real Estate’s Lukáš Musil, Prague Stock Exchange CEO Petr Koblic, and Aurélien Bullot, in charge of the Five Arrows Private Equity Programme at Rothschild & Co (who joined the conference remotely from Paris), all weighed in with opinions. According to Lukáš Musil, investments in logistics centres have been the hands-down winners of the Covid crisis so far, and this trend is set to continue in 2021. On the M&A market, Igor Mesenský believes that sellers hold the upper hand, but that year 2021 will also unlock lucrative opportunities for buyers.
In the third block, Alexandra Bízková and Silke Horáková discussed passion and impact investing. Bízková, financial director of Pro arte, a fund specialising in fine art, later posted on her LinkedIn profile: “Twelve speakers and twelve-plus ways of making returns and beating inflation this year. Hard to compare when it comes to yields, but I can definitely say with absolute certainty that, no matter what the price, the aesthetic pleasure and joy that works of art bring is immeasurable!”
During the conference, attendees were given the chance to take a survey on the developments of selected asset classes in 2021. The results showed that 70% more respondents place greater faith in US stocks compared to those from emerging markets. EMUN PARTNERS family office investiční společnost’s Filip Savi reacted by observing that: “It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. In my opinion the current ‘risk-on’ landscape actually opens the door to growing interest in emerging market stocks. My main reasoning here is that the new US administration is expected to stick to a loose fiscal and monetary policy. This should keep the dollar down and fuel growth in emerging markets (measured in USD). In addition, I’m eyeing the valuation differences based on estimated earnings – EM P/E 16 vs US P/E 22.5.” Participants are also expecting one or two rate raises by the Czech National Bank and a stable-to-slightly-stronger Czech crown.
Flawless though the online broadcast may have been, what pleased the organisers the most was that more than 75% of participants are hoping that the conference will return to a conventional in-person format next year, complete with refreshments and networking opportunities.