Fletcher Features

Fletcher’s SovereigNet Hosts International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds for On-Campus Workshop

Though attentions may have turned elsewhere after Commencement last May, campus was not as quiet as one might assume: Early this summer, The Fletcher School welcomed dozens of guests to campus, including members of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF), for a two-day workshop focused on risks and opportunities to long-term investors. The event was hosted by SovereigNet, the school’s interdisciplinary network dedicated to the study of sovereign wealth management.

Launching the conference, Dean James Stavridis extended his personal welcome and offered up for discussion four major risks to global security: cybersecurity, the re-emergence of “big power” politics, the persistent geopolitical challenges that remain in the Middle East, and the possibility of a global pandemic that could undermine security through threats to large, vulnerable populations.

Following the Dean’s remarks, participants spent two days engaged in spirited dialogue on a variety of themes, including cybersecurity, climate change, operational risk, political risk, and the role of populism. Topics also included legal and regulatory risks to foreign investment, and the unique challenges of managing risks of direct investments and private equity.

“The workshop was truly invigorating,” said Patrick Schena, Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Business Relations and co-head of SovereigNet. “The two days were filled with enriching conversation across a broad range of risks faced by sovereign investors.”

To close the event, participants engaged in a collective “thought experiment” that asked them to anticipate the cover of The Economist in 2030. Designed as a long-term trend analysis, the session was facilitated by Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance Bhaskar Chakravorti, who guided participants to project risk factors that could inform portfolios and investment decisions over the next 15 years.

May’s workshop was the first event of its kind not hosted by a IFSWF member and was representative of the new steps being taken to grow the relationship between Fletcher and IFSWF. In October 2016, SovereigNet was appointed as one of only two official academic partners of IFSWF.

“Our partnership with IFSWF builds on a solid working relationship,” said Schena. “We’ve already seen it extend and deepen our research and educational initiatives in global finance and global capital.”

“Having access to organizations likes IFSWF and its members right here on campus is very helpful,” said recent graduate Auyon Rahman, who attended the workshop this summer. “During the fall 2016 semester, I worked as a consultant for one of IFSWF's benchmarking projects. The work I did with IFSWF, as well as participating in the conference, influenced and informed my views when working on my capstone thesis.”

To learn more about SovereigNet, click here.