«We should always do what is right for our clients and staff.»
Michael Sabbatini is a strategy and capital markets analyst at Capital Group with global quantitative and asset allocation research responsibilities. He has 22 years of investment experience, all with Capital Group. Michael has global quantitative and asset allocation research responsibilities in Capital’s Quantitative Research and Analytics team and, oversees the active asset allocation process for institutional global and US balanced mandates. Earlier in his career at Capital Group, he was a quantitative analyst and a benchmark research analyst. He holds master’s degrees in economics from Yale University and Lausanne University.
Michael Sabbatini, what does success mean to you?
As a quantitative researcher in an asset management organisation committed to fundamental research, success begins with winning the trust of our investors by contributing to their understanding that quantitative methods, analysis and expertise can help them meet their investment objectives. From there, success is sustaining that trust over the long term, attracting new talent to our quantitative research team and creating the opportunity for the next generation of associates to continue to grow and meaningfully contribute to Capital Group’s ability to produce attractive investment results for our clients.
What is it that motivates you?
I’m fortunate enough to do, daily, what I love doing: learning, creating and influencing decision-making. Among Capital Group’s core values are a belief in a long-term focus, both in how we invest on behalf of our clients and how we manage the business, and respect for individual thinking. This allows for an environment of intellectual and methodological freedom in which I can explore new ways of addressing investment challenges and prototype innovative solutions, which is intensely motivating and rewarding
Which values underlie your day-to-day actions, decisions, plans?
The simple philosophy that we should always do what is right for our clients and associates is the foundation for our every action and decision. Our business is based on trust, so integrity, accountability and rigorous analysis are essential principles in what we do. Furthermore, in our quantitative research team, we implement a robust peer-review process that helps to consistently remind us about the importance of intellectual humility and the value of collaboration, which are beliefs that Capital Group embraces more broadly.
What are your guiding/leadership principles?
Acting as a thought leader and mentor in our quantitative research team, my role is to set the tone for excellence in the quality of our work and bring enthusiasm for deepening and extending our research agenda. This means championing intellectual rigor and honesty, in particular with regard to the limitations of our work; it also implies demonstrating a sustained desire to learn. It entails continuously identifying new and challenging problems to be solved, encouraging collaboration and transparency, as well as inviting original ideas and a diversity of viewpoints.
What drove you to do what you do today?
A fair amount of luck along the way. After studying at the University of Lausanne’s Faculty of Business and Economics, where I discovered a passion for econometrics and finance, I attended graduate school in the US with the goal of pursuing a career in academia. I would spend every summer back home, conducting research mandated by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Serendipity had that, at a summer party, I was introduced to a portfolio manager who worked for Capital Group in Geneva, where he invited me to attend an interview. Despite it not seeming an obvious route, given my interest in quantitative research and the organisation’s commitment to fundamental research, I became convinced that it would be a great place to work and grow. With that in mind, I joined the team that did the editorial and research work for the Morgan Stanley Capital International MSCI Indices, which were originally created by Capital Group in the Geneva office back in 1965. Shortly after I joined, Capital Group and Morgan Stanley, which by then owned the commercial rights and was the publisher of the indices, decided to consolidate the index research team with the rest of MSCI’s activities, creating a separate company. While I was the only person from the team to remain a Capital Group associate, I worked for both organisations for about two years to help facilitate the transition. During this time, I led the research and development of the Global Industry Classification Standard GICSâ at MSCI, among other tasks. After that, I fully embraced the role of quantitative analyst at Capital Group, which was a new role at the time, and have had the chance to develop in that role over the last 22 years.
What do you enjoy most in your job, what least?
What I enjoy the most is having the room to think, read research and learn from others. Having the independence to create, develop and prototype new ideas and frameworks is something I treasure just as much. What I enjoy the least are administrative and repetitive tasks.
How do you achieve that crucial work/life balance?
Spending time with my family and friends is what keeps me healthy. Capital Group’s values and culture create the conditions to more easily manage that balance, so it’s not unusual for people to spend a very long time at the firm, and many – myself included – stay with Capital Group for their entire career.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in asset management today or your younger self?
I advise anyone starting on their professional journey to think deeply about the people they want to work and engage with on a daily basis. When I think back to the start of my career, what convinced me to join Capital Group was the promise of engaging with bright, passionate and collegial people. Specifically, for those embarking on a career in asset management, I would advise them to learn how to code.
What is your favorite travel destination in Switzerland or abroad?
A beach by the Indian Ocean at any time of the year, or New York, where my wife and I lived for some time early in my career at Capital Group, and where we always enjoy visiting.
What are you thankful for?
A sense of humor and a gift for procrastination.
What book are you currently reading?
I particularly enjoy reading biographies and am currently reading Keith Richards’s memoir “Life”, which is not only very revealing and highly entertaining but also a formidable survivor’s story
If you could pick any country, where would you most like to live and why?
That’s easy: Switzerland. I was born in Malawi (Africa), where my family lived for a number of years before moving to Rome. Then, while still young, I moved to Switzerland, where I completed most of my education. Capital Group is truly a global organisation, and I could perform my role from any one of our investment offices around the world, but I choose to live and work here because it’s home for me. Considering what Switzerland has to offer in terms of quality of life, education and competitiveness, the country is hard to match. This also explains why Capital Group chose to open its first office outside the US in Geneva way back in the early 1960s and remains committed to this location today.