A Lesson on Finance, Politics, and More
Experts from Expat Capital introduced the AUBG students to Bulgaria’s first exchange-traded investment fund, the Expat Bulgaria SOFIX UCITS ETF, on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Nikolay Vassilev and Maria Boychinova were invited by the Assets Trading and Management (AT&M) Club at AUBG to present the company’s newest business line, to talk more about internship and work opportunities as well as to share some useful life lessons.
Vassilev is currently CEO and Member of the Board of Expat Capital. He also served as a member of two consecutive Bulgarian governments as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy (2001 – 2003), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport and Communications (2003 – 2005), and Minister of State Administration and Administrative Reform (2005 – 2009). He is also a member of the Board of the Bulgarian CFA Association. Boychinova received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from Vassar College, New York. She is currently Head of Research at Expat Capital and a CFA holder.
At the beginning of the presentation, Boychinova explained the major characteristics of the Expat Bulgaria SOFIX UCITS ETF, which is a collective investment scheme that fully complies with the UCITS directive of the EU. The fund was launched at the end of September 2016 and is listed for trading on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange – Sofia. It is divided into shares, which are offered to institutional and qualified investors by Expat Asset Management on the primary market. The minimum trade size is 100,000 shares or a multiple of it and investors are required to buy at least 2,500 BGN worth of the ETF shares. For the ordinary investors, the fund is available on the secondary market through the Bulgarian Stock Exchange – Sofia.
The students, however, were primarily interested in the effect of the Bulgarian ETF on the country’s capital market. Regarding the correlation between the introduction of the fund and the doubling of the daily returns of the Bulgarian stock exchange, Vassilev said that “the market just woke up after years of sleeping.” He explained that after 2001, when the government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to power, the Bulgarian stock market set a world record for increase in its returns. For six years, it the market’s returns increased 27 times in EUR currency terms. However, after the Global Financial crisis in 2008, the market also witnessed the highest drop in its history and still has not recovered.
Therefore, Vassilev concluded that a country needs political stability in order for its financial market to be stable. Since Bulgaria is considered an emerging economy, if we have a crisis, the SOFIX, the first official stock market index of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, may not double as expected by many professionals in the field. However, if things stay the same, Vassilev concluded that the cheap market in Bulgaria will attract lots of foreign investors. “The ETF was the catalyst that unlocked the country’s potential. Before that nobody cared about Bulgaria,” he said and explained that for now the main goal of Expat Capital is to list the fund on the European stock exchange markets.
“The lecture of Expat Capital was quite useful for me in terms of understanding the structure, the composition and the current performance of the first Bulgarian Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Expat Bulgaria Sofia UCITS ETF,” said Aleksandar Aleksandrov, a fourth-year student.
Vassilev and Boychinova also introduced the students to the internship opportunities at Expat Capital Bulgaria. They explained that the company takes about 15 interns per year and the internship lasts between one and three months. To conclude the presentation that eventually turned into an informal discussion with the students, Vassilev gave some useful advises to the students in the Auditorium, stressing on the importance of knowing more than one foreign language, going on exchange programs and doing internships. “You will never have more time than you have now,” he said and urged the young people in the audience to use their time wisely as they work on achieving their future goals.
“This lecture was unique as it went beyond the scope of the actual topic. Nikolay Vassilev and Mariya Boychinova did a lot more than to simply tell us about Expat’s ETF, they gave us practical and direct career advice – something we do not see too often from potential employers in the financial industry,” said Biliana Kraeva, president of the AT&M club at AUBG.
She shares that from her personal experience as a fourth-year student, it is not easy to “to find directions and hints on how to concentrate on the correct set of goals to achieve and skills to develop in order to land at the best job.” However, in her opinion, “Expat Capital’s talk helped students with getting a feel of this direction.”
“This is exactly the kind of lectures we aim at as a club,” Kraeva concluded.